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3 things to know about children’s disability benefits

If you are an Iowa parent or legal guardian of a child with special needs, you no doubt understand how challenging it can be to get your son or daughter the care and treatment that he or she needs to function on a daily basis. If you have a child with autism, Down Syndrome, cerebral palsy or intellectual impairment, it is critical to know where to seek support, particularly financial assistance, if you are a low-income family.

The U.S. Government offers Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to families who meet certain requirements of eligibility. This is the only federal government-funded program that provides financial assistance to families who have children with special needs. There are several key issues to keep in mind regarding SSI for families in Iowa and throughout the country.

SSI has saved many children with disabilities from poverty

You may be able to relate to other parents or guardians who have struggled to stay afloat, financially, as they do their best to provide care for a child with a disability. You might also be one of many parents who has undergone a loss of employment in order to stay home and take care of your child each day. SSI benefits is a key factor to helping families on the verge of poverty to bridge the gap and make ends meet while caring for a child with special needs.

Improvement of your child’s condition can place benefits at risk

There is a usually a downside to every financial supplement program. With regard to SSI, one of the downsides is that there are stringent eligibility requirements. Also, if your child has a condition approved for benefits, the SSI will conduct a periodic review. If his or her condition has improved, your family may no longer be eligible to receive benefits. Loss of benefits due to improved condition has happened to many families in the past.

SSI benefits can be used for financial needs beyond your child’s medical care

If your family qualifies for SSI benefits, such benefits may be used to pay a mortgage, buy groceries and clothing, or to meet any other financial needs you might have in your household. SSI is a stable source of income that you may use, as needed, to provide care, not only for your child who has a disability but the rest of your family, as well.

Nearly 1.7% of children in Iowa and across the U.S. are SSI recipients. Typical monthly SSI benefits would be less than $700. If you are unsure whether you meet income and asset requirements or whether your child’s condition is on the approved-for-benefits list, it is a good idea to consult with someone who is experienced in navigating the system and who can advocate on your behalf, as needed.