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Navigating Social Security benefits systems for children with disabilities

As an Iowa parent of a child with special needs, you are likely no stranger to advocating on your son’s or daughter’s behalf. Whether the issue is in regard to education, health care or social constructs, it is not uncommon for a concerned parent to be proactive in making sure to meet his or her child’s needs. If you are wondering whether there are Social Security benefits available for your son or daughter, the information in this post may be helpful.

Under the Social Security Administration (SSA), there are several programs that provide benefits to people with disabilities. It is possible that your son or daughter might qualify for one program but not another. It is also possible that he or she may be eligible for several benefits programs.

Do you have an adult son or daughter whose disability occurred in childhood?

The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program provides financial support to adults who have suffered disabilities as children. However, in many cases, children under age 18 can also qualify for this program. In such situations, the income of a child’s parental household is taken into account to determine eligibility. The child in question does not necessarily have to be residing in your household at the time. For instance, he or she might be staying on campus at a school away from home.

This program is based on financial need. In short, the less income or financial resources available in a child’s primary residential household, the more benefits to which he or she may be eligible.

Additional eligibility factors for SSI

To determine if your child is eligible for SSI benefits, additional factors of consideration are taken into account, including those shown in the following list:

  • The applicant must not earn a certain amount of income or above, per month.
  • Your son or daughter must have severe or marked functionality challenges due to his or her condition.
  • The condition must be terminal or cause disability for 12 consecutive months or more.

Immediate payments and return payments for ineligibility

In certain circumstances, such as if your child has HIV, total blindness or deafness, cerebral palsy or another severe condition, SSI benefits may be available to him or her, even before the application is fully processed. However, if the application is denied, you would be required to reimburse any payments received up to that point.

The entire SSI benefits application process can take several months to complete. If your child is eligible for benefits, the SSA will periodically review his or her case to determine whether the disability in question still exists. The review typically occurs every few years.

Ask questions ahead of time

The regulations that govern SSI benefits and other financial supplement programs for children with disabilities are complex and sometimes difficult to understand. It is always best to seek consultation with an advocate who has experience in navigating the system before submitting an application.