Rhode Island Child SSI Lawyers (Supplemental Security Income)

Nurse pushing child in wheelchair with mother

Children with serious disabilities face many physical, emotional, and even financial challenges. Some disabled children may be eligible for the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program.

Generally, SSI provides benefits for qualified individuals who have restricted incomes and limited resources. In addition to aiding disabled individuals, SSI benefits may also be available for individuals 65 years or older that do not have retirement resources to rely on.

Furthermore, disabled children under the age of 18 whose parents or families have restricted incomes and limited resources may also qualify for monthly SSI benefits.

Child Eligibility for SSI Benefits

The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program was designed to help eligible, low-income people avoid poverty and get the medical care they need and deserve. A child’s SSI eligibility is determined by two sets of criteria:

  1. allowable family income and resources (known as a “means test”); and
  2. disability determination (or the degree and type of disability).

Income and Resources

The SSA evaluates the income and resources of a disabled child individually and in relation to the income of family members living in the child’s household. This “means test” also applies to children who are away at school (or hospitalized) but remain in their parents’ custody. If a child’s/family’s household income and resources exceed the permitted amounts, the SSA may deny the child’s application for SSI payments.

SSI Definition of Disability for a Child

In order for a child to be considered disabled and eligible for SSI benefits, he or she must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Must not be working and not earning more than $1010 a month in 2012 (this amount changes annually and is called Substantial Gainful Activity, or SGA);
  • Must have a “severe impairment,” which the SSA defines as a medically determinable physical or mental condition, or a combination of conditions, causing “severe functional limitations” in which a child’s activities are seriously limited;
  • Must have conditions that are long-lasting (i.e., have lasted for at least one year, or are expected to last at least one year) or which are expected to result in death.

The SSA considers children disabled if their conditions cause severe “functional limitations” for at least 12 consecutive months. However, if the conditions do not cause this degree of limitation, or do not last for at least one year, SSA will likely deny SSI benefits.

It may take many months before the SSA determines if a child is disabled and eligible for SSI benefits. However, children with certain medical conditions may be awarded SSI payments immediately and for up to six months while the SSA finalizes their decision. The conditions that may qualify for immediate payment (known as “presumptive benefits”) include:

  • Mental Health Disorders, such as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Depression and Anxiety, to name a few
  • HIV infection
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Down syndrome
  • Mental retardation
  • Certain childhood cancers
  • Total blindness
  • Total deafness
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Birth weight less than 2 pounds, 10 ounces

 SSI Eligibility for Children

Once a child begins receiving SSI benefits, the SSA will review the child’s medical condition periodically to confirm that the disability is still severe and persistent. A review may occur:

  • every three years for a child under age 18 whose condition(s) is expected to get better; and/or
  • by age 1 for a baby receiving SSI payments due to very low birth weight.

Even if a child’s condition is not expected to improve, the SSA may conduct a disability review. During a review, the SSA requires proof that a child has a disability and continues to receive necessary medical treatment.

Unwavering Commitment to People with Disabilities

The trusted Rhode Island Social Security Disability attorneys at Marasco & Nesselbush work tirelessly to ensure disabled individuals receive the benefits they deserve. If you qualify, we are here to help you successfully negotiate complicated Social Security Disability determination and appeals processes. Our ability to offer clients the best possible representation and a clear understanding of what is necessary to win is a source of great pride. To schedule a free initial consultation, or to learn more about how our Child SSI lawyers can help, please call 401-274-7400.