Social Security Benefits for Children - - FAQs
Q: Can an adopted child receive Social Security disability payments?
A: There are two Social Security disability programs that include disabled children.
Under the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, a child from birth to age 18 may receive monthly payments based on disability or blindness if:
Under the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program, an adult child (a person age 18 or older) may receive monthly benefits based on disability or blindness if:
- He or she has an impairment or combination of impairments that meets the definition of disability for adults; and
- the disability began before age 22; and
- the adult child's parent worked long enough to be insured under Social Security and is receiving retirement or disability benefits or is deceased.
Under both of these programs, the child must not be doing any "substantial" work ($940 in 2008 and $980 in 2009), and must have a medical condition that has lasted or is expected either to last for at least 12 months or to result in death.
You will find helpful links to the online forms and the steps you need to take to apply for childhood disability benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov/applyfordisability. At this time, you cannot complete an application for SSI childhood disability online, but you can complete the Child Disability Report Form online. You can also view the Fact Sheet and Checklist in the Child Disability Starter Kit to see what information you will need and the kinds of questions we will ask when you have your disability interview in your local Social Security office or over the phone. The Disability Report asks for information about the child's conditions or impairments.
Call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or visit your local Social Security office right away so that you do not lose potential benefits, even if you complete the Disability Report Form online.
Q: Is the decision to grant disability benefits based on the severity of the disability and/or the financial need of the family?
A: Under the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, a child from birth to age 18 may receive monthly payments based on disability or blindness if:
Q: What are the requirements for a child to be considered disabled and therefore eligible for SSI?
A: Your child must meet all of the following requirements to be considered disabled and therefore eligible for SSI:
The child must have a physical or mental condition, or a combination of conditions, that results in marked and severe functional limitations. This means that the condition(s) must very seriously limit your childs activities.
The childs condition(s) must have lasted, or be expected to last, at least 12 months; or must be expected to result in death.
Your childs income and resources, or the income and resources of family members living in the childs household, must be below the amount allowed, or we will deny the childs application for SSI payments. (NEED BASED)
If your childs condition(s) results in marked and severe functional limitations for at least 12 continuous months, there can be a finding that your child is disabled. But if it does not result in those limitations, or does not last for at least 12 months, according to SSI, the child is not disabled.
Q: What are some of the conditions that are considered in the disabling categories for children?
A: The child must have a physical or mental condition, or a combination of conditions, that results in marked and severe functional limitations. This means that the condition(s) must very seriously limit your childs activities.
It can take three to five months for the state agency to decide if your child is disabled. However, certain medical conditions so limiting that it is expected that one of them will disable a child. In these cases, SSI payments may be made right away and for up to six months while the state agency decides if your child is disabled.
Following are some of those conditions:
- HIV infection
- Total blindness
- Total deafness
- Cerebral palsy
- Down syndrome
- Muscular dystrophy
- Severe mental retardation (child age 7 or older)
- Birth weight below two pounds, 10 ounces
If your child has one of the limiting conditions that is expected to disable a child, he or she will get SSI payments right away. However, the state agency may finally decide that your childs disability is not severe enough for SSI. If that happens, you will not have to pay back the SSI payments that your child got.
Q: What is the process for applying for disability for my adopted child?
A: You can apply for Social Security or SSI payments for your child by calling Social Security toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 or by visiting your local Social Security office. If you are applying for SSI payments for your child, you should have his or her Social Security number and birth certificate with you when you apply. If you are applying for SSDI benefits for your child, please have your own Social Security number with you in addition to the childs Social Security number and birth certificate. (To expedite the process you can complete the Child Disability Report online at www.socialsecurity.gov/childdisabilityreport )
You can help the process along by:
Telling as much as you can about your childs medical condition(s);
Giving the dates of visits to doctors or hospitals, the patient account numbers for any doctors or hospitals, and any other information that will help us get your childs medical records; and
Providing copies of any medical reports or information that you already have in your possession.
NOTE: You do not need to request information from your childs doctors. SSI staff will contact them directly for any reports or information that they need to make a decision about your childs disability.
If your child is younger than age 18 and applying for SSI, you will need to provide records that show your income and resources, as well as those of your child. We also will ask you to describe how your childs disability affects his or her ability to function on a day-to-day basis. In addition, SSI will ask for the names of teachers, day care providers and family members who can provide information about how your child functions. If you have any school records, you should bring them to the interview.
In many communities, special arrangements have been made with medical providers, social service agencies and schools to help us get the evidence needed to process your childs claim. However, your cooperation in getting records and other information will help us finish the job more quickly.
When you apply for benefits for your child, you will be asked for detailed information about the childs medical condition and how it affects his or her ability to function on a daily basis. You will also be asked you to give permission for the doctors, teachers, therapists and other professionals who have information about your childs condition to send the information the office. If you have any of your childs medical or school records, please bring them with you. This will help speed up the decision on your application. All of the will be forwarded to the Disability Determination Services in your state. Doctors and other trained staff in that state agency will review the information, and will request your childs medical and school records, and any other information needed to decide if your child is disabled. If the state agency cannot make a disability decision using only the medical information, school records and other facts they have, they may ask you to take your child for a medical examination or test. SSI will pay for the exam or test.
Q: Is there any good resource that I can read before I start the application process.? I cannot afford an attorney and will have to complete my own process.
A: Many resources are available on Social Securitys website at www.socialsecurity.gov.
Recommended pages include:
Q: What if I die before my adopted child turns eighteen. Are there any benefits from Social Security for my adopted child?
A: If a deceased worker worked long enough in a job where he or she paid Social Security taxes then:
The deceased worker's unmarried children who are younger than age 18 (or up to age 19 if they are attending elementary or secondary school full time) can receive benefits. Children can get benefits at any age if they were disabled before age 22 and remain disabled. Under certain circumstances, benefits also can be paid to stepchildren, grandchildren or adopted children.
Q: My foster child receives a Social Security death benefit from is birth mother or father. If I adopt the child, will the child loose that benefit?
A: No. The adoption of a child already entitled to benefits does not terminate the child's benefits.
Q: I am very close to retirement age. I would like to adopt my foster child, but I am afraid that I cannot afford rearing a child on Social Security benefits. Is there any help?
A: Your child can also get benefits on your record if he or she is your biological child, adopted child or dependent stepchild. (In some cases, your child also could be eligible for benefits on his or her grandparents earnings.)
To get benefits, a child must have:
- A parent(s) who is disabled or retired and entitled to Social Security benefits; or
- A parent who died after having worked long enough in a job where he or she paid Social Security taxes.
The child also must be:
- Younger than 18;
- 18-19 years old and a full-time student (no higher than grade 12); or 18 or older and disabled. (The disability must have started before age 22.)