About Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for Children
Children under 18 are not eligible for benefits through the normal Social Security disability (SSD) program, but they may be eligible for payments through the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program.
If your child meets Social Security’s definition of disability for children and if his or her income and resources are under a certain limit, he or she may qualify for Supplemental Security Income. In 2011, this earning limit is $1,000 per month. If your child is working and earning this much, the Social Security Administration will find that he or she is not disabled.
Our South New Jesey disability attorney knows your child must have a physical or mental disability that results in “marked and severe functional limitations.” His or her condition must also last (or be expected to last) for 12 months or be expected to result in death.
What the Social Security Administration Needs
When applying for Supplemental Security Income benefits for your child, you will be asked for detailed information about how your child’s medical condition affects his or her daily activities. Bring any relevant medical or school records that demonstrate your child’s medical condition or the impact it has on his or her school performance.
The Social Security Administration will want to get in contact with doctors, teachers, and therapists who can talk about your child’s limitations and his or her medical diagnosis. You will need to provide permission for them to speak to the SSA.
If the Social Security Administration can’t tell whether your child is disabled on the basis of medical and school records, he or she may be asked to attend a medical examination, which will be paid for by the Social Security Administration.
The whole process takes between three and five months, but if your child has certain conditions such as HIV, total blindness or deafness, cerebral palsy, down syndrome, or severe mental retardation, he or she may start receiving payments right away while the claim is being considered.
Will Payments Stop When My Child Turns 18?
When your child turns 18, the Social Security Administration will decide whether he or she is eligible to continue receiving payments under the SSI program as an adult. Because the disability rules for adults are different than those for children, this may result in your child no longer receiving payments. On the other hand, a child who was not previously eligible for the Supplemental Security Income program may become eligible as an adult. (This sometimes happens if you and your spouse earned too much or had too many resources for your child to qualify.)
Can My Child Qualify for New Jersey SSI Benefits for ADHD?
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder can be difficult to diagnose. It has no objective signs that can be seen in X-rays or lab tests. It must be identified by looking for certain behaviors, which may differ from person to person.
Although half of all children with ADHD will continue to show symptoms as adults, ADHD alone cannot be the basis for a finding of disability in an adult, and there is no adult listing for ADHD in the Social Security Administration’s Listing of Impairments. Most children diagnosed with ADHD do not have such a severe case that it qualifies for benefits, though in some cases, an experienced New Jersey disability lawyer may be able to help you argue that your child’s symptoms meet the disability requirements.
To meet Listing 112.11, your child must have medically documented findings of all three of the following:
- Marked inattention.
- Marked impulsiveness.
- Marked hyperactivity.
In addition, a child age three or older must have two of the following:
- Marked impairment in age-appropriate cognitive/communicative function.
- Marked impairment in age-appropriate social functioning.
- Marked impairment in age-appropriate personal functioning.
- Marked difficulties in maintaining concentration.
A child between the ages of one and three must show impairment in one of the following areas to the extent that he is performing at the functional level of a child half his age:
- Gross or fine motor development.
- Cognitive/communicative function.
- Social function.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) lists some signs of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity that may be helpful in diagnosing the disorder (a diagnosis may come from a psychiatrist, a psychologist, a pediatrician or family physician, or a neurologist).
Signs of inattention include:
- Becoming easily distracted by irrelevant sights and sounds.
- Failing to pay attention to details and making careless mistakes.
- Rarely following instructions carefully and completely.
- Losing or forgetting things like toys, pencils, books, and tools needed for a task.
Signs of hyperactivity and impulsivity include:
- Feeling restless, fidgeting with hands or feet, or squirming.
- Running, climbing, or leaving a seat in situations where sitting or quiet behavior is expected.
- Blurting out answers before hearing the whole question.
- Having difficulty waiting in line for a turn.
Remember that a child must show inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsivity to meet the Social Security listing for ADHD. It is not enough to have just one or two of these symptoms.
If your child has ADHD, a knowledgeable New Jersey disability lawyer may be able to help you win SSI benefits. Fill out the claim evaluation form on this page to learn how I can help, or contact:
800 Kings Highway North
Cherry Hill, New Jersey 08034-1511
Conveniently located near Rt 295, 70, 73, and 38. Buses, such as the 457, stop at the corner of her street.