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Social Security for Disabled Children

Appealing for benefits is best done under the guidance of an experienced disability lawyer.

If your child is disabled they may qualify for disability benefits.

Author Attorney Greg Reed:

The process however is different for children than it is for adults. A social security disability lawyer explains.

disability benefits for children

Does my disabled child qualify for disability benefits? Social Security Disability is not available for children the same way it is for adults. Disabled children may collect SSI but it is very difficult to prove.

Unfortunately, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is not available for children in the same way it is for adults.

The intent of the SSDI program is to provide a safety net for workers who become too injured or ill to work. SSDI is an insurance program for employees who have paid FICA taxes, as opposed to a means-tested welfare program. Children of disabled workers can collect auxiliary SSDI benefits, but children cannot collect SSDI on the basis of their own disability. Supplemental Security Income (SSI), on the other hand, is a welfare program and does not require beneficiaries to first pay into the system.

If a child is disabled, they may collect SSI.

The Social Security Administration defines a child as anyone under the age of 18, or 22 if they are attending school. The process for determining eligibility for benefits is different for children than it is for adults. For an adult, disability is defined as a condition which results in an inability to earn over a certain amount. For a child, the SSA defines disability as a mental or physical condition that seriously limits activities.

If you have been denied disability you may still qualify for benefits. Contact an experienced Social Security disability lawyer at 512-454-4000

Proving childhood disability is very difficult.

While children are ultimately awarded at rates similar to adults, they are more likely to have their claim approved in the initial application stage. However, in the hearing stage, only 20.4% of childhood disability claims were successfully appealed compared to 39.2% for adults in 2013. Childhood disability claims are most commonly denied because the impairment does not cause “severe functional limitations”.

Children applying for SSI are still subject to the substantial gainful activity (SGA) limit of $1,260 per month in 2020.

Because children often don’t earn their own income, the parent’s income is used to determine an applicant’s financial eligibility. The process for calculating the portion of a parent’s income that counts as income for the child is called “deeming”. Deeming parental income is fairly complicated– the number of children, number of parents, and whether household income comes from work or welfare are all taken into account. When the child undergoes their re-evaluation at age 18, however, the parent’s resources will no longer count towards their limit.

SS lawyer

Because childhood disability claims are usually won on initial application and because the initial application is relatively easy to fill out, it is usually best for parents seeking benefits for their children to fill out the application themselves. If you do need help however call a social security disability lawyer at 512-454-4000

While the definition of disability for children is different, the medical determination process is largely the same.

There is a Listing of Impairments, also called the “blue book,” as there is for adults. The childhood listings are slightly different and more focused on diseases that are likely to affect a younger demographic. Like adults, children are not required to meet the prerequisites of a specific listing exactly, but are allowed some leeway through “equaling a listing,” or showing that their condition is severe enough to be as disabling as a listed condition.

There are unique challenges in proving a childhood disability claim.

Proving financial eligibility is challenging due to the complications of the “deeming” calculation. Establishing Medical eligibility requires proving severe impairment. It can be hard to demonstrate how conditions which are not physically obvious, such as ADHD or Autism, cause severe limitation of daily activities. The majority of childhood applications are for mental health issues. Roughly 70% of children receiving SSI are receiving benefits on the basis of a mental health condition. If there is not enough evidence to prove the condition is severely disabling in the initial stage, the claim is unlikely to win in the hearing stage.

Contact a Social Security disability lawyer at 512-454-4000 for a free consultation and see if you can get disability benefits. If you have been denied disability don’t give up!

Because childhood disability claims are usually won on initial application (nearly 40% compared to 26.6% for applicants between 18 and 64), and the initial application is relatively easy to fill out, it is usually best for parents seeking benefits for their children to fill out the application themselves.

Because childhood claims are difficult to appeal and attorneys work on a contingency basis, most attorneys do not handle childhood disability claims. However, Soarworks and NOSSCR offer resources to parents seeking SSI for their children.

Long Term Disability Lawyers

The attorneys at Bemis, Roach and Reed work with adults who are unable to work due to illness or injury. If you have had to stop working because of medical condition, you may be eligible for benefits. Contact the Social Security Disability Lawyers at Bemis, Roach and Reed today for a free consultation. Call 512-454-4000 and get help NOW.

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"Words can not truly express the gratitude that I feel toward Mr. Lonnie Roach and his professional team. I give them an A+++. Very compassionate and prompt. Their priorities are first and foremost helping you succeed at your case. When you feel helpless, feeling like someone is on your side can mean the world to you. Thank you for working for the people."
-Amy K.


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Greg Reed disability lawyer
Author: Attorney Greg Reed has been practicing law for 29 years. He is Superlawyers rated by Thomson Reuters and is Top AV Preeminent® and Client Champion Gold rated by Martindale Hubbell. Through his extensive litigation Mr. Reed obtained board certification from the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Greg is admitted to practice in the United States District Court - all Texas Districts and the United States Court of Appeals-Fifth Circuit. Mr. Reed is a member of the Travis County Bar Association, Texas Trial Lawyers Association, past Director of the Capital Area Trial Lawyers Association, and an Associate member of the American Board of Trial Advocates. Mr. Reed and all the members of Bemis, Roach & Reed have been active participants in the Travis County Lawyer referral service.

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