How A Child with Autism Can Qualify For Disability BenefitsJuly 1, 2019
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.
When considering disability benefits for an autistic child, it’s important to understand the factors that can influence the decision-making process. Can a child with autism be denied SSI? Yes, it’s possible. Applications for SSI may be denied if the child’s condition doesn’t meet the Social Security Administration’s criteria for disability, or if the family’s income and resources exceed certain thresholds.
Securing disability for an autistic child requires thorough documentation of the child’s condition and how it impacts their daily functioning. Parents should provide comprehensive medical records, educational reports, and any relevant therapy assessments to strengthen their case. It’s also advisable to understand the appeal process, as initial denials can sometimes be overturned with additional or clarified information.
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.
What is the difference between Social Security disability and SSI?
Understanding the distinction between Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is crucial when seeking benefits for a child with autism or other disabilities. SSDI is based on the disabled individual’s work history and payroll tax contributions. In the case of children, it often depends on the work record of a parent.
On the other hand, SSI is a needs-based program for individuals with limited income and resources, regardless of their work history. This makes SSI more accessible for children with disabilities like autism who have not been employed. While SSDI payments are based on the earnings record of the applicant or
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.
What Is Considered a Disability by Social Security?
Under the guidelines of the Social Security Administration (SSA), a disability is defined as a medical condition or a combination of conditions that significantly impair an individual’s ability to perform substantial gainful activity. This includes both physical and mental disabilities.
For children, the SSA evaluates whether the condition(s) severely limits their functioning at home, school, and in social settings. The disability must be expected to last at least 12 months or result in death. Autism, for instance, is often considered a qualifying disability under these guidelines, especially when it severely impacts a child’s communicative, social, and behavioral capabilities.
However, the determination of disability goes beyond the diagnosis itself; it also involves an assessment of how the condition affects day-to-day activities and development.
Income Limits: https://www.ssa.gov/ssi/text-child-ussi.htm
Child Disability Starter Kit: https://www.ssa.gov/disability/disability_starter_kits_child_eng.htm