What You Need to Know About SSD Benefits for Children and Adolescents

Disabilities don’t affect just adults. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 2.8 million American children currently live with disabilities.

Children and teens with disabilities have the right to access certain programs to help them live their best lives. These include the right to a free and appropriate education in public schools and the right to seek disability benefits from the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program.

In order to qualify for disability benefits, a child or adolescent must:

  • Have a physical or mental condition (or a combination of conditions) that cause “marked and severe functional limitations.” Usually, this means the child’s activities are very seriously limited in some way.
  • The condition must be disabling for at least 12 months or be expected to result in the child’s death.
  • The child must not be earning more than the SSA’s limit per month from work. In 2015, the limit was $1,090 per month.

The SSA also considers the resources the child has to pay for care and the resources available to the family.

For some conditions, the SSA may agree to pay benefits immediately, even if the disability claim is still being reviewed. These conditions include HIV infection, total blindness or deafness, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, muscular dystrophy, severe intellectual disabilities in children older than age 6, or birth weight below 2 pounds, 10 ounces.

Young adults who become disabled before they reach age 22 may also seek SSDI benefits. The SSA refers to these as “child” benefits, even though the person receiving them may be over age 18, because they are based on the work record of a parent.

The experienced Disability lawyers in Rhode Island at Marasco & Nesselbush are dedicated to helping Rhode Island families receive the benefits they need. Our passion for our work takes us beyond the courtroom.

On May 14, Social Security Disability attorney Mariam Lavoie and Dianne Flaherty, LICSW – M&N Community Liaison, will be speaking to The Providence Center Child and Family Division on the important topic of disability benefits for children and teens. Together, we can help ensure that children with disabilities get the support they need to enjoy a bright and promising future.


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