How Disability Benefits For Children Work
Some people may find it surprising that disability benefits for children are available. The Social Security Administration estimates that around one million children receive disability benefits. Children receiving those benefits must receive them through a 'representative payee', which is the person authorized to handle the benefits on behalf of the child, and is usually one or both of the parents.
The main mechanism through which children receive disability benefits is as dependents or survivors on the record of a parent receiving Social Security disability or retirement payments. These types of payments are known as auxiliary benefits, being that they are based not on the disability or earnings record of the child, but that of the parent. The child does not actually need to be disabled to receive these payments. They are eligible because they are the dependent of someone who is receiving disability payments, or because they have survived a person who received benefits but is now deceased. The child themselves does not have to be disabled. They can receive benefits on the parent's record until they reach the age of eighteen, which is raised to nineteen for full time elementary or high school students. The student must fill out a form twice a year confirming that they are still attending school.
If the child has a disability that began before age twenty-two, or is the child of a person who is receiving Social Security disability or retirement benefits or of a person who died while receiving thse benefits, they can receive benefits as what's known as an 'adult disabled since childhood' or an 'adult child'. These benefits are categorized as 'child's benefits', even though a person may not become eligible to receive them until they are well into adulthood. As an example, if a child qualifies under SSA's Listing of Impairments as disabled but their parents are working and not collecting any sort of Social Security benefits, the child would not qualify for benefits. However, once their parents retire and begin to collect Social Security retirement benefits, or if their parents become disabled and qualify for disability benefits, then the child would be able to receive 'child's benefits' based on the parent's record regardless of their age.
If the child cannot qualify for SSDI benefits, they may be able to recieve SSI payments. SSI (Supplemental Security Income) is a federal program designed to assist people with limited assets and low incomes. If a child meets Social Security's definition of disability, and their own or their parents' income and assets fall within the guidelines, then they may be eligible to receive SSI disability payments. Apply for either SSDI or SSI disability benefits for children by visiting or calling the local Social Security Administration office, or calling the SSA hotline at 1-800-772-1213.