Does my child qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI)? Part 1

A child can get monthly SSI payments if he or she has impairment(s) that meets Social Security’s definition of “disabled” for children, and meets age and financial requirements.

A disabled child who is receiving SSI payments can also get, depending on the State, supplemental payments from the state, Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, and other social services. These benefits help your child get access to much needed medical treatment and other support. 

Age Requirements for Child SSI

A child must be younger than age 18 to be eligible for child SSI payments. The earliest a child can qualify for SSI benefits is on the date of birth.

Financial Requirements for Child SSI

Because SSI is a needs-based program, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will consider income and resources when determining if the child is eligible for SSI. 

Income includes earnings, Social Security checks, pensions, and non-cash items such as food, clothing, or shelter. SSA considers the child’s income (if any). Also, the income from a parent available to the child is considered to be deemed income when the child lives at home or is dependent on parents while at school. The amount of income affects a person’s eligibility for SSI, as well as the amount of the SSI payment he or she can receive.

Resources include things like bank accounts, stocks, bonds, and property.  Certain things do not count as resources, such as personal belongings, the family home, and family car.  Also, funds provided for the child in an Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) account are not counted. An individual’s resources must be worth not more than $2,000 and a couple’s resources can be no more than $3,000.  If the parent’s resources exceed $3,000, SSA considers the excess resource belonging to the dependent child.

In addition, SSA may consider the resources of a stepparent or adoptive parent if he or she lives with the child. Living arrangements can make a difference with regard to SSI eligibility.

Definition of “Disabled” for Children

SSA uses a strict definition of “disabled” for child SSI. A child is considered to be “disabled” for SSI if he or she has medically determinable impairment(s) that result in marked and severe functional limitations.  A child must be disabled for the past 12 months, or is expected to be disabled for 12 months or more, or has a disability that is expected to result in death. 

To determine whether a child is disabled, SSA uses a three-step process. The steps are:

Step 1. Is the child working or engaging in substantial gainful work activity (SGA)? SGA (non-blind) is presumed to be at or more than $1,260 a month in 2020. If the child is working at an SGA level, the child’s SSI claim will be denied. If the child is not working or earning SGA, SSA moves to step 2.

Step 2. Does the child have a medically determined impairment (MDI), or combination of impairments, that is “severe”? An MDI must be established by objective medical evidence from an acceptable medical source. A “severe” impairment is considered to be one that results in more than minimal limitations. If not, the child will be denied. If the child has a severe impairment, SSA moves to step 3.

Step 3. Does the child’s impairment meet, medically equal, or functionally equal one of the listed impairments? Proof at this step requires significant evidence and is critical to whether the child’s impairment(s) are determined to be disabling.

Child SSI – Helpful Links

Below are some links to help you get started with your child’s SSI claim.

Watch for part 2 of this Child SSI blog that will discuss medical and other evidence needed to prove a child SSI claim. It is coming soon.

Contact a Social Security Disability Representative for Help with Your Child’s SSI Claim

Filing a child SSI claim is a complex process. You must provide proof that your child has a disability and meets all of the age and financial requirements.  A Social Security disability representative can help you complete an application for your child and obtain the necessary medical and other evidence to prove your child’s claim. If you need assistance with your child’s SSI claim, contact an experienced Social Security disability representative at Cardea Disability, LLC at 334-440-6261 or use our contact form on our website at to send us a message.


By: Michele Schaefer, Cardea Disability, LLC

Published on February 10, 2020