Does my child with autism qualify for SSI?
This is a question that I’m asked frequently, and so I am grateful that Ram Meyyappan, the senior editor and manager of Social Security Disability Help, has offered to answer:
Some children who live with autism may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, or SSI. The condition, however, must meet a certain level of severity in order for a child to qualify. Children with severe forms of autism will qualify for benefits under the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program run by the Social Security Administration (SSA).
Meeting the SSA’s Blue Book Criteria for Autism
When an individual applies for Social Security Disability benefits, the SSA compares the applicant’s symptoms to the conditions that have been listed in the Blue Book. The Blue Book is a publication that lists all of the conditions that could qualify an individual for benefits, along with the criteria that must be met in order to qualify under each condition. For children, autism is covered under Section 112.10 of the Blue Book. This section of the Blue Book covers autistic disorder and other pervasive developmental disorders. According to the Blue Book, in order for a child to qualify for benefits due to autism, the following criteria must be met:
- The autism must be characterized by qualitative deficits in the development of reciprocal social interaction, in the development of verbal and nonverbal communication skills, and in imaginative activity.
The must be medically documented findings of:
- Qualitative defects in the development of reciprocal social interaction; and
- Qualitative defects in verbal and nonverbal communication and imaginative activity; and
- Markedly restricted repertoire of activities and interests.
You must be able to prove the above criteria are met with sufficient medical evidence. This means providing the SSA with copies of:
- Your child’s clinical history
- Your child’s test scores
- Your child’s psychiatric records
- Your child’s therapy records
- Your child’s lab results
- Your child’s treatment history
- Written statements from your child’s treating physicians
Copies of this medical evidence should be submitted when you apply for disability benefits for your child.
For more information on how to qualify for benefits with Autism, please visit: http://www.disability-benefits-help.org/disabling-conditions/autism-and-social-security-disability
Understanding the SSI Program
The Social Security Disability program that children can qualify for is the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. SSI is a needs-based program. In order to qualify for SSI benefits, you must meet the program’s financial criteria. The process of determining what income the SSA counts toward your income and asset limits is called deeming. The SSA uses the deeming process if your child lives at home, is under 18 years of age, and is unmarried. If these requirements are met, the SSA will count certain household income toward the income and asset limits of your household. In order to qualify your family’s income and assets must be less than $2,000 in a 1 parent household and less than $3,000 in a 2-parent household. Counted income includes:
- The earned income of parents and/or a step-parent
- The unearned income of parents and/or a step-parent
- The resources of parents and/or a step-parent.
Income that is not counted includes:
- Income received from providing foster care
- Food stamps
- Disaster assistance payments
- Tax refunds on real property
- Income that is used to pay child support.
To determine how much a child will receive in SSI benefits, the SSA will look at the household income and assets and the parental living allowance. As of 2013, the parental living allowance for an individual is $710 per month and $1,060 per month for a couple.
Applying for Benefits
You can apply for disability benefits either online (http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pgm/disability.htm) or at your local SSA office. In addition to the medical evidence described earlier, you will also need to provide financial documents that show your household income and assets. Copies of bank statements and pay stubs will be required in order to qualify for SSI benefits.
Social Security Disability Help is an informational resources on all things related to social security disability benefits. It contains information on how to a apply with over 400 disabling conditions as well as a forum where you can have your questions answered.
To learn more, follow Ram’s blog:www.disability-benefits-help.org/blog
Thank you Ram!!
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