Social Security Assistance

Supplemental Security Income

Parents need to explore every avenue of rightful financial benefits for their children.  This page provides one avenue to take in determining if your child may qualify.

What Is SSI?

SSI is short for Supplemental Security Income. It pays monthly benefits to people who are 65 or older, or blind, or have a disability and who don't own much or have a lot of income.

SSI isn't just for adults. Monthly benefits can go to disabled and blind children, too.

People who get SSI usually get food stamps and Medicaid, too. Medicaid helps pay doctor and hospital bills.

Who Can Get SSI?

To get SSI, you must be 65 or older or blind or disabled.

Blind means you are either totally blind or have very poor eyesight. Children as well as adults can get benefits because of blindness.

Disabled means you have a physical or mental problem that keeps you from working and is expected to last at least a year or to result in death. Children as well as adults can get benefits because of disability. When deciding if a child is disabled, Social Security looks at how his or her disability affects everyday life.

SSI Benefits For Children With Disabilities

Non-Medical Rules

SSI is a program that pays monthly benefits to people with low incomes and limited assets who are 65 or older, or blind, or disabled. Children can qualify if they meet Social Security's definition of disability for SSI children and if their income and assets fall within the eligibility limits.

As its name implies, Supplemental Security Income supplements a person's income up to a certain level. The level varies from one state to another and can go up every year based on cost-of-living increases. Your local Social Security office can tell you more about the SSI benefit levels in your state.

Rules For Children Under 18

We consider the parent's income and assets when deciding if a child under 18 qualifies for SSI. This applies to children who live at home, or who are away at school but return home occasionally and are subject to parental control. We refer to this process as "deeming" of income and assets.

Check with your Social Security office for information about your child's specific situation and for a full explanation of the "deeming" process.

Rules For Children 18 And Older

When a child turns age 18, we no longer consider the parent's income and assets when we decide if he or she can get SSI. A child who was not eligible for SSI before his or her 18th birthday because the parent's income or assets were too high may become eligible at age 18.

If a disabled child getting SSI turns 18 and continues to live with his or her parents, but does not pay for food or shelter, a lower SSI payment rate may apply.

How We Decide If A Child Is Disabled For SSI

While your local Social Security office decides if your child's income and assets are within the SSI limits, all documents and evidence pertaining to the disability are sent to a state office, usually called the Disability Determination Service (DDS). There, a team, consisting of a disability evaluation specialist and a medical or psychological consultant, reviews your child's case to decide if he or she meets our definition of disability.

If the available records are not thorough enough for the DDS team to make a decision, you may be asked to take your child to a special examination that Social Security will pay for. It is very important that you do this, and that your child puts forth his or her best effort during the examination. The results of the examination will not be considered valid unless your child puts forth his or her best effort. Failure to attend the examination, or invalid results due to poor effort, could result in an unfavorable decision.

Deciding SSI Disability For Children Under 18

The law states that a child will be considered disabled if he or she has a physical or mental condition (or a combination of conditions) that results in "marked and severe functional limitations." The condition must last or be expected to last at least 12 months or be expected to result in the child's death. And, the child must not be working at a job that we consider to be substantial work.

To make this decision, the disability evaluation specialist first checks to see if the child's disability can be found in a special listing of impairments that is contained in Social Security's regulations. These listings are descriptions of symptoms, signs or laboratory findings of more than 100 physical and mental problems, such as cerebral palsy, mental retardation or muscular dystrophy, that are severe enough to disable a child. The child's condition does not have to be one of the conditions on the list. But, if the symptoms, signs or laboratory findings of the child's condition are the same as, or medically equal in severity to the listing, your child is considered disabled for SSI purposes. If your child's impairment(s) does not meet or medically equal a listing, the DDS then decides whether it "functionally equals" the listings. They assess the effects of the condition or combination of conditions on your child's ability to perform daily activities by comparing your child's functioning to that of children the same age who do not have impairments. To do this, they consider questions such as:

To determine whether your child's impairment causes "marked and severe functional limitations," the disability evaluation team obtains evidence from a wide variety of sources who have knowledge of your child's condition and how it affects his or her ability to function on a day-to-day basis and over time. These sources include, but are not limited to, the doctors and other health professionals who treat your child, teachers counselors, therapists and social workers. A finding of disability will not be based solely on your statements or in the fact that your child is, or is not, enrolled in special education classes.

State Children's Health
Insurance Program (CHIP)

Legislation passed in 1997 created a new Title XXI of the Social Security Act, known as the State Children's health Insurance Program (CHIP). This new program enables states to insure children from working families with incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid, but too low to afford private health insurance. The program provides protection for prescription drugs, vision, hearing and mental health services and is available in all 50 states, and the District o Columbia, Your state Medicaid agency can provide more information about CHIP. Or, you can go to


Social Security Administration
SSA Publication No. 05-11000

Please click the links below for more SSI information.

Thank you Mr. Tews for bringing these to our attention!

Kentucky Education Rights 
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