Does My Child Qualify for SSI Benefits?

by Editorial Board on February 7, 2011 · 0 comments

in Winning Disability Benefits,Questions & Answers,Basics of SSD

The criteria used to determine whether a child qualifies for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Benefits is quite different than that of an adult.  Determining whether a child (under 18 years of age) qualifies involves a three step process which includes the following:

  1. Is the child working at Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) level
  2. Does the child have a medically determinable impairment or combination of impairments that is considered severe and
  3. Does the child’s impairment(s) meet or functionally equal a listing

If it is determined that a child is working at or above SGA level then the claim will be denied.  The current SGA amount for 2009 is $ 980.00.  The newly determined SGA amount for 2010 is $1000.00.  If a child is not working or is earning less than SGA level then the process would move to Step 2.

At Step 2, medical records are reviewed to determine if a child does in fact have a condition that would be considered “Severe”.  If it is determined that the child’s condition(s) is severe then the process would move to Step 3.

At Step 3, it must be determined whether a child either meets a listing or has a condition that medically equals or functionally equals a listing.   The Social Security Administration has a total of 15 listings used to determine whether a child qualifies for benefits.  Those listings are categorized in the areas of Growth, Musculoskeletal, Special Senses and Speech, Respiratory, Cardiovascular, Digestive, Genitourinary, Hematologic, Skin, Endocrine, Multiple Body System, Neurological, Mental, Malignant Neoplastic, and Immune.   If a child precisely meets one of these categories of listing requirements then the child will be eligible for benefits and will be found disabled.

It may however still be possible to qualify for benefits if a child does not meet a listing but instead functionally equals a listing.  A child is determined to functionally equal a listing if the child’s impairment(s) results in marked limitations in 2 domains of functioning or an extreme limitation in one domain.  A domain is an area of functioning that shows what a child is or is not capable of doing.  There are 6 domains that are used which are the following:

  1. Acquiring and using information,
  2. Attending and completing tasks,
  3. Interacting and Relating to others,
  4. Moving about and manipulating objects,
  5. Caring for self, and
  6. Health and Physical well-being.

A child needs either 2 marked limitations or 1 extreme limitation in any of the 6 domains listed.  A marked limitation is one that is determined to interfere seriously with the child’s ability to independently initiate, sustain or complete activates.  An extreme limitation is one that interferes very seriously with the child’s ability to independently initiate, sustain or complete activities.  An impairment can also be shown to be considered marked if a child’s standardized test scores are at least two standard deviations below the mean or 3 standard deviations below the mean in the case of an extreme impairment.  A child that meets these standards would be found entitled to SSI benefits.

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