Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is financial assistance, provided by the federal government, to eligible persons with disabilities. It is money in the form of a monthly check that helps pay for basics such as food and shelter. It is available to people who are elderly, blind, or disabled (according to Social Security's Listing of Impairments), and who have little assets or income.
Adults must document that the disability is expected to last 12 months (or result in death) and interferes with their capacity for "substantial" work. There is a different standard for children under 18. A child under 18 who did not qualify for SSI disability due to the parent’s income, may qualify when they become an adult (over 18) when only their income and resources are counted.
Children under age 18 can get SSI if they meet Social Security's definition of disability for children and there are limited income and resources in the household. Social Security defines a disability as:
• The child must have a physical or mental condition(s) that very seriously limits his or her activities; and
• The condition(s) must have lasted, or be expected to last, at least 1 year or result in death. A state agency makes the disability decision. They review the information provided. They will also ask for information from medical and school sources and other people familiar with the child’s condition(s).
In determining medical eligibility for a child, the child's physical or mental condition, or combination of conditions, must be medically proven. You will need to complete a Child Disability Report (Apply for A Child (Under Age 18) | Disability Benefits | SSA ), and with the help of a social security representative, complete an application for SSI. Access the Child Disability Starter Kit to prepare for this process Child Disability Starter Kit (ssa.gov). They will also request permission to contact the child’s doctor to obtain information about your child’s disability.
The law also requires a continuing disability review (CRD) at least every three years to determine whether the child is still disabled. Also, any child who was eligible before age 18 must, during the one-year period beginning on his/her 18th birthday, have eligibility redetermined using the rules for adults.
If you do not want to fill out reports online, or if you need help completing the report, you can call toll-free at (800) 772-1213. If you are deaf or hard-of-hearing, call toll-free TTY number, (800) 325-0778. Representatives are available Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m.
Once all documentation is obtained by the Social Security Administration, it is determined whether both financial and medical eligibility are met. Many adults with disabilities meet the income eligibility guidelines because they do not have full- or part-time employment that brings their income to the maximum allowed. Some people with disabilities have too many assets in the form of bank accounts, life insurance, or trusts in their name which causes them to be ineligible for SSI benefits.
In the case of too many assets, a lawyer or someone knowledgeable about the law can be consulted for information on how to set aside funds for the person without jeopardizing eligibility for SSI and other benefits. The Arc of Indiana and Indiana Disability Rights may provide help with this. If a person is turned down due to lack of proof of a disability, an appeal can be filed. Instructions for the appeal process are provided in writing when the eligibility statement is received. Do not give up. During the appeal process you can provide new reports or information, such as medical or educational records that may have been overlooked and/or new test results provided by different doctors, educators, and professionals. Generally, you have 60 days after you receive the notice to ask for any type of appeal. The letter receive contains guidance on what level of appeal you should select. If you are unable to appeal a decision online, you can call a toll-free number, (800) 772-1213 (TTY (800) 325-0778), or contact your local Social Security office for other appeal options.
Visit Disability Benefit/Appeal a Decision or view our ‘Your Right to Question the Decision Made on Your Claim’ pamphlet to learn more about the appeals process. Appeal forms are available for download at https://www.ssa.gov/forms/. You can also call toll-free number at (800)772-1213 (TTY (800) 325-0778) or contact your local Social Security office to request appeal forms be sent to you.
Free interpreter services are provided to help you conduct your Social Security business, including helping you complete the SSI application and answering your questions. NOTE: The Child Disability Report is only available in English.
Call toll-free number, (800) 772-1213. If you need service in Spanish, press 7 and wait for a Spanish-speaking representative to help you. For all other languages, stay on the line and remain silent during the English voice automation prompts until a representative answers. The representative will contact an interpreter to help with your call.
Pratt, C. (2022). Supplemental security income for persons with disabilities. Retrieved from https://www.iidc.indiana.edu/irca/articles/supplemental-security-income-for-persons-with-disabilities.html.