• youBelong Staff

Obtaining Disability Benefits

Parents of children with special needs are well aware of how costly it can be to provide the best care for their loved one. Fortunately, disability benefits are available to provide financial assistance.


Conditions that May Qualify


Children can medically qualify for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA) for a wide range of disabilities, though a child’s condition must meet a pronounced severity level in order to be eligible.


Just a few of the medical conditions that can qualify a child for disability benefits are:


  • Growth impairments and muscular, skeletal, joint and neurological disorders.

  • Vision, hearing, and speech impairments.

  • Systemic conditions that affect multiple body areas, such as Down syndrome.

  • Genetic conditions and congenital impairments of the organs, including the heart, lungs, kidneys and digestive tract.

  • Childhood cancers, immune system disorders, disorders of the endocrine system, like diabetes.

  • Mental and behavioral disorders, including intellectual and developmental disabilities like ADHD, Autism, and personality, anxiety and mood disorders.


Severity Level Determinations


To determine if the effects of the condition are severe enough to result in disability, the SSA closely evaluates the child’s medical records, school information and details provided about his or her daily activities and abilities.


With adult disability applicants, the SSA looks at whether or not a medical impairment prevents employment. With children, however, they review whether an impairment causes delays in development– whether physical, mental or emotional- or in social functioning and interpersonal interactions.


Applying for Benefits


To apply for benefits on behalf of a child with special needs, parents must complete an interview with an SSA representative. That interview must be scheduled in advance and generally takes place at a local SSA office.


The following documentation and evidence are required in order to complete an application:


  • Medical records, including doctor’s notes, diagnostic test results, medication records and records regarding hospital stays or other treatments required.

  • School records, if applicable, including information on academic and intellectual assessments, disciplinary documents and other performance records.

  • Information concerning the child, income, assets and other financial resources.


What to Expect


Children will only qualify for disability benefits through the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) since SSI is the only program that does not require any work history. This program is need-based and, therefore, your financial information will be crucial to determining eligibility. For more information on the financial eligibility requirements for SSI, visit: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/ssi/text-child-ussi.htm


You should also keep in mind that most applicants wait at least four months for a decision, and even then your application may be denied. However, you can file appeals and seek assistance, if necessary, in order to get the benefits you need for providing the level of daily care your child deserves.


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