If you are the parent, caregiver or representative of a child younger than 18 who has disabilities, there are many possible government benefits that you and they could be eligible to receive. In addition, an adult who became disabled in childhood prior to age 22 might also be eligible for benefits as well.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
SSI makes monthly payments to people who have limited resources and a low income who are 65 or older, blind, or disabled. If your child is under age 18, he or she may be able to qualify if they have a physical or mental condition, or a combination of conditions that meet Social Security’s definitions. In addition, his or her income and resources must also fall within eligibility limits. Payment amounts may vary from state to state because some state agencies will add to a potential SSI payment.
To qualify as disabled, a child must have a condition or combination of conditions that result in “marked and severe functional limitations.” In addition, the condition(s) must have been disabling or expected to be disabling for at least 12 months, or the condition is expected to result in death.
Income restrictions for 2018 are that the child must not be working, or earning more than $1,180 per month. It should be noted that this amount changes from year to year and is based on increases in the Consumer Price Index.
State agencies review initial SSI claims and make take up to six months to determine if benefits should be awarded. However, if the child has certain medical conditions, payments may be made immediately. Some of those conditions may include HIV infection, total blindness or deafness, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, muscular dystrophy, a severe intellectual disability (if the child is four years old or older), or a birth weight below 2 pounds, 10 ounces.
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Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) for adults disabled since childhood
The SSDI pays benefits to adults who have a disability that began before they turned 22 years old. It is considered a child’s benefit because it is paid on a parent’s Social Security earnings record. To receive this child benefit, one of the disabled adult’s parents must be receiving Social Security retirement or disability benefits, or the parent must have died but worked enough to qualify for Social Security. The SSDI disabled adult benefit payments will continue for as long as the individual is disabled.
In most states, children who receive SSI payments qualify for Medicaid. In some states, this benefit is automatic, while in others, you must sign up for it. Some children may qualify for Medicaid even if they do not qualify for SSI benefits. This will vary from state to state, so it is best to check with a local Social Security office or state Medicaid office to see if and how you can qualify.
This is a federal health insurance program for people who are age 65 and older, and for people who have been getting SSDI benefits for at least two years. However, a disabled adult child can get Medicare immediately if they have a chronic renal disease and need dialysis or a kidney transplant; or they have been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
CHIP allows states to provide health insurance for children from working families who have income that is too high to qualify for Medicaid, but too low to afford private health insurance. Criteria will vary from state to state, and it is best to contact your state Medicaid agency to get more information about this program.
State Level Health Programs
Under the Children with Special Health Care Needs provision of the Social Security Act, state agencies provide some services through clinics, private offices, community agencies, or hospital-based treatment centers. Local health departments or social services offices should be able to help you identify and contact your local Children with Special Health Care Needs programs.
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This article was featured in Issue 72 – Sensory Solutions For Life