Everyday People Matter


| Aug 8, 2012 | Children

Children from birth to age 18 may receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA) if they are:

  • Disabled and
  • Family has little or no income or resources

Children’s disability claims are evaluated at a different standard than those of disabled adults. Children must have a physical or mental impairment that is “marked or severe.” The disability must very seriously limit his or her activities and the condition must have lasted or be expected to last a year or more or result in death.
Some conditions are considered “marked and severe” if they meet a medical listing under SSA guidelines. Some of these conditions arising in childhood that may qualify under an SSA listing are:

  • HIV infection
  • Blindness
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Down syndrome
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Severe intellectual disorder
  • Low birth weight (under 2 pounds and 10 ounces)
  • ADHD (although symptoms must continue to be severe with medication)

In order to determine if your child’s conditions meets a listing requirement, you can access the listings at Social Security’s website.

Other conditions that may arise in childhood may not constitute listings per se, but may be considered “severe” if one or more conditions can meet the listing criteria by being medically equally or functionally equal. Some of these conditions may be:

  • Asthma
  • Seizure disorder
  • Learning disabilities
  • Low IQ

If a limitation is severe, then a diagnosis or a problem in one of these areas will usually be enough to establish eligibility. If the limitation is “marked” but not quite severe, then SSA determines how the impairment impacts functioning as compared to a child of the same age. Multiple impairments may be evaluated to determine overall functioning. SSA will evaluate your child’s functional impairment by assessing his or her cognitive or communication functions; social functions; personal functions, and concentration, persistence and pace as compared to children of the same age. In order for your child’s condition to be functionally equivalent to a medical listing SSA will consider his or her abilities in :

  • Acquiring and using information
  • Attending and completing tasks
  • Interacting and relating to others
  • Moving and manipulating objects
  • Caring for self
  • Health and well being

In order to support your child’s claim for disability you will need the following documentation:

  • Medical findings in medical records
  • Historical information in school records and from parents
  • Testing results

Children’s disability claims are often complicated and require the expertise of an attorney competent in handling these specialized claims.