Can My Children Get Disability Benefits?

Our Social Security Disability attorneys at Hardison & Cochran regularly encounter questions regarding the eligibility of children for disability benefits. The questions generally have to do with the eligibility criteria. When a parent receives Social Security retirement or disability benefits, his or her children also may be eligible for benefits.

We have compiled some general responses to common questions regarding disability benefits for children. Our Social Security Disability attorneys assist clients throughout North Carolina with applications and appeals, including seeking SSDI and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for children. One of our knowledgeable North Carolina disability benefits lawyers can discuss your specific questions and address your child’s eligibility for disability benefits after reviewing the details of your situation.

Obtaining disability benefits for a child is a complex bureaucratic process.  Working with an experienced N.C. disability attorney at Hardison & Cochran can ease your burden and improve your chances of success. We have helped hundreds of clients obtain disability benefits. If your application has been denied, you only have a limited amount of time to appeal. Call today for a free consultation with an SSD attorney who can discuss how we can help you and your family.

Can My Child Claim Disability Benefits?

Your child or children may qualify for disability benefits depending on how old they are.

Children up to age 18 may be entitled to Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits if they meet other requirements. The child must have a medically diagnosed disability and have little income or financial resources.

To apply, you will need to fill out a Child Disability Report providing information about your child’s medical conditions, prognosis, medical records, education and employment status. You can complete the report by visiting the local Social Security Office, or by calling the toll-free number 1-800-772-1213 and stating that you want to complete a Disability Report on behalf of your child.

Gathering all the records and information required can seem like a full-time job by itself and be stressful if you are also caring for a disabled child. It can be helpful to have the guidance of a knowledgeable disability attorney who knows the types of medical documentation that claims reviewers are seeking and can gather the documents and medical records on your behalf.

How Does the Government Decide if a Child is Disabled?

Your child must meet a number of requirements to qualify for SSI disability benefits.

Your child must have a physical or mental condition that causes severe functional limitations and significantly limits your child’s activities.

The child’s disabling condition also must be expected to last at least 12 months or be a terminal condition.

A child, who is not blind, must not be working or earning more than $1,180 a month. This amount usually is adjusted each year. If the child is blind, the child is not allowed to earn more than $1,970 a month and still qualify. Claim reviewers also take into account the family’s household income and resources.

What types of records will be reviewed regarding household income and resources?

You may need to provide copies of employment records, bank accounts, real estate holdings, life insurance, automobiles and other assets that could be converted to cash.

How long will it take to determine if my child qualifies for SSI benefits?

Disability Determination Services, a North Carolina government agency funded by the Social Security Administration, reviews disability claims and may take three to five months to issue a decision on whether your child meets the criteria for disability benefits. You will receive a letter informing you of the decision.

The process can take longer if the child’s medical record is incomplete. If the state requires additional medical information, a claims reviewer may arrange for a medical examination of the child.

If a child has certain qualifying disabling conditions, the Social Security Administration may start making payments right away, even while the application is still under review.

What Are Examples of Qualifying Conditions for Child Disability Benefits?

Some examples of disabling conditions include:

  • Total blindness
  • Total deafness
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Down syndrome
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Spinal disorders
  • Cancer
  • Symptomatic HIV infection
  • Birth weight below 2 pounds, 10 ounces
  • Autism
  • ADD
  • ADHD.

Your child may qualify to receive Supplemental Security Income benefits if he or she is under age 18 and disabled and your family meets the income and asset requirements for SSI benefits, even if you do not personally qualify for benefits.

I receive Sociality Security Disability benefits. Is my child also eligible?

If you are receiving SSDI benefits, then any child of yours under age 18 or any child attending high school and under age 22 may be entitled to a benefit equal to half of your disability benefit amount.

The child may be your biological child, your adopted child or your stepchild. A dependent grandchild also may qualify.

Your child also may be entitled to be paid benefits as a survivor if one of the parents is deceased.

What is an Adult Child Benefit?

Adults who became disabled during childhood typically have not worked enough years to have a Social Security earning records that qualifies for disability benefits on their own. But they may still qualify to receive disability benefits based on a parent’s Social Security earnings record.

While your child is an adult, this benefit is referred to as a “child benefit” because the amount of benefits is based on the parent’s Social Security earnings record. By relying on a parent’s work record, a disabled adult child may collect thousands more dollars in benefits over a lifetime.

If your child is over age 18, unmarried and not in school, he or she may receive disability benefits based on your earnings record. To qualify, the following conditions must be met:

  • The disabling medical condition must have begun before the age of 22; and
  • The adult child must meet Social Security’s definition of “disability” for an adult.

If your child qualifies for SSD benefits as an adult disabled child, he or she may be entitled to significantly more benefits than available through SSI benefits. If your child was diagnosed with a disability before the age of 22, it is very important to discuss your eligibility for disability benefits with a knowledgeable SSD attorney.

Within your family, the child may receive a monthly benefit of up to one half of your full disability benefit. But there is a cap on the amount of disability benefits a family may collect.

How Long Will My Child Receive Disability Benefits?

Typically, disability benefits stop when a child turns 18 years old unless the child is still a full-time student in a secondary school.

If the child is still a student, the benefits will continue until the child graduates or until two months after the child turns 19, whichever happens first.

What Happens When a Child Turns 18?

If a child collects dependent benefits before age 18 based on a parent’s record of Social Security earnings, then he or she may be eligible to continue receiving benefits based on that record if the child is disabled.

If a child is receiving disability benefits, the Social Security Administration will review the child’s medical condition at age 18 and determine whether he or she qualifies for benefits based on the adult disability rules.   SSDI “child” benefits for a disabled adult may continue as long as the individual is disabled.

My child’s application for disability benefits was denied. What should I do now?

If the SSA has denied your child benefits, then you should talk with a knowledgeable disability benefits attorney. If you live in North Carolina, the disability attorneys at Hardison & Cochran are available to answer your questions and offer guidance about appealing the decision.

Sometimes a benefits application is delayed or denied because it lacks adequate medical documentation of a child’s disability. An experienced disability benefits attorney will know what documents and medical evidence should be included and can make sure the correct information is submitted.

Obtaining disability benefits for a child can be challenging.

Our dedicated attorneys have helped many people whose disability applications were initially denied obtain the full benefits available by law. We will discuss the best steps to take regarding your claim denial and work hard to get your child SSD or child SSI benefits, depending on your child’s eligibility.

How do I pay a disability lawyer to handle my case?

The attorney handling your disability claim will only collect a legal fee if you or your child is awarded back pay for the time you have waited for a decision. The amount a lawyer can charge in a disability case is set by law. A Social Security disability lawyer can only charge 25 percent or 6,000, whichever is less, out of your back pay.