Many people are surprised to learn that children under the age of 18 may be eligible to receive Social Security disability payments. The qualifications for benefit approval for children are similar to the ones for adults: they must meet the medical and income requirements. Since children do not normally earn any income, the income of the parent or guardian is evaluated. Read on to learn more about how your disabled child might qualify for Social Security disability benefits.
Income Test Must be Passed First
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has strict guidelines in place to evaluate your child's medical condition for approval, but you may not even get that far if your income is too high. The SSA looks at the income of the parent or guardian first; then the child must still pass the medical qualifications. The SSA calls the process of evaluating parental income "deeming" since they are looking at any income that will be deemed available for the child's care during a given month.
The deeming process can be quite complicated, and the SSA will assign a caseworker to evaluate your income and to explain the process in more detail. Income is only one of many factors; the number of other people living in the household, child support received, government assistance received, and other factors are also evaluated. Not all income is used in the deeming calculation; normally excluded are:
- SNAP (food stamps)
- TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families)
- Pensions for veterans
- Payments for foster care (of that child or any child in the family)
Another factor evaluated in respect to deeming is property owned by the parents or guardians. Savings accounts and investments accounts could be deemed available for the child; however, the family home and vehicle will likely not.
Month to Month
It's important to note that deeming is not a one-time occurrence; each month your income is evaluated, and you may see your child's benefit amount fluctuate as a result. You should also be aware that the child, for the most part, must reside in your home the entire month to be eligible for a benefit. Temporary absences, such as a visit to grandma for a couple of weeks, are usually overlooked. The child is also allowed to attend boarding schools. To prevent an interruption or reduction in benefits, you must report all absences and the reason.
If you have been denied Social Security benefits for your disabled child, contact an attorney like those at Dunnigan & Messier P.C. right away.