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How A Child with Autism Can Qualify For Disability Benefits

This guest post is brought to you by Deanna Power, the Director of Outreach at Disability Benefits Help, an independent organization dedicated to helping people of all ages get the Social Security disability benefits they need. Deanna specializes in helping applicants determine if they’re medically eligible for disability via the SSA’s criteria.

If your child has autism, your family may be eligible for financial assistance. The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers monthly disability benefits for people of all ages, including minor children. While many children with autism have no difficulty qualifying for disability benefits for medical reasons, technical eligibility is more challenging. If approved, your family could receive around $750 per month that can be spent on any of your child’s or family’s daily living needs.

Financial Income Requirements And Disability

Anyone under age 18 applying on his or her own record will only qualify for Supplemental Security Income, or SSI benefits.  These benefits are only offered to the most financially needy families. This means that if you or your spouse is earning a high income, your child will not be eligible for SSI due to autism. The good news here is that the bigger your family, the higher your income limits. For example, a single parent with one child cannot earn more than $38,000 (pre-tax) and still have a child qualify with autism. A two-parent family of five, however, could earn nearly $60,000. You can find your specific household income limit online.

Financial limitations are the top reason why children with autism are denied SSI benefits. The good news is that once your child turns 18, he or she will likely qualify for SSI regardless of whether your child is still living at home. Once a child is 18 the SSA no longer counts parents’ income when determining SSI thresholds.

Medical Qualifications And Autism

The SSA uses its own medical guide, known colloquially as the Blue Book, when determining if an applicant is eligible for Social Security benefits. The Blue Book lists all test results or symptoms needed to be approved for disability benefits. Autism is listed as a qualifying condition in the Childhood Blue Book. To be eligible for SSI, your child must have medical documentation of both of the following:

  • Measurable deficits in verbal and non verbal communication, as well as deficits in social interactions, AND
  • Restricted or repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities

Additionally, a child with autism must have “extreme” limitation in one, or noticeable limitations in any two of the following criteria:

  • Understanding, remembering, or applying information
  • Interacting with others (taking directions, playing with other children, etc.)
  • Concentrating and completing tasks
  • “Adapting oneself,” which means controlling emotions

The entire Blue Book is accessible online, so you can review the childhood autism listing with your child’s doctor to help determine if he or she has the medical evidence needed to qualify.

Starting Your Child’s SSI Application

All SSI applications must be completed in person at your closest Social Security office. There are more than 1,300 SSA offices located across the country, so you’ll likely have more than one option when scheduling an appointment. Before applying in person, be sure to review the SSA’s Child Disability Starter Kit. This online resource outlines exactly what paperwork you’ll need to have on hand to successfully apply for SSI on behalf of a child.

Helpful Resources:

SSA: https://www.ssa.gov/

Income Limits: https://www.ssa.gov/ssi/text-child-ussi.htm

Blue Book For Autism: https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/112.00-MentalDisorders-Childhood.htm#112_10

SSA Offices: https://www.disabilitybenefitscenter.org/state-social-security-disability

Child Disability Starter Kit: https://www.ssa.gov/disability/disability_starter_kits_child_eng.htm

SSI For Adults: https://www.disabilitybenefitscenter.org/supplemental-security-income/how-to-qualify

AngelSense is committed to creating a safer world for children with special needs. We designed the AngelSense GPS tracking solution to give parents the peace of mind that their child is safe at all times.

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