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Things to Know – Social Security for a Disabled Child

by Megan Roth5 min read
Social Security for a Disabled Child

Raising a child is expensive today. But raising a disabled child can be even more expensive. Matters can get worse if you have to stop working so that you can take care of your disabled child. In that case, social security for a disabled child is definitely a must know factor.


Social Security for a Disabled Child


The Social Security Administration has also made provisions for such cases. There are three ways in which children can be eligible for Social Security or Supplemental Security Income Disability benefits.

  • A disabled child from a low income family

If a child who is disabled belongs to a low-income family, then he or she may be awarded SSI disability income till he/she turns 18. This child is also eligible for Medicaid. After he/she turns 18, the person can apply for adult SSI.

  • Children who aren’t qualified for Supplemental Security Income disability benefits

If one or both of your parents are collecting Social Security Disability benefits or Social Security Retirement benefits and you are also below the age of 18, then you may be eligible for Social Security benefits – even if you are not disabled.

  • Adults who have been disabled since childhood

Children who became disabled before they reached the age of 22 and are currently older than 18 may be eligible for Social Security Disability if one or both parents/guardians is collecting SSD or Retirement benefits.


How is the decision that a child is disable made?

The SSA has a very strict definition of what constitutes disability in a child:

  • The child has a mental/physical condition which severely hampers his/her activities 
  • The disability has lasted/will lastat least 12 months or may result in death


Disabled Adult “Child”

If a person is 18 or older yet was disabled before he/she turned 22, then he/she is termed an adult child. This is because the person will be receiving his/her benefits based on his/her parent’s or guardian’s Social Security record. An adult child is eligible for a disabled child’s benefits if at least one parent/guardian is:

  • Receiving Social Security Disability benefits
  • Getting Social Security Retirement benefits
  • Deceased

The adult child must be above 18, unmarried and the disability should have started before he or she turned 22.


Information you need to apply for Social Security for a Disabled Child

If you wish to apply for Social Security for a disabled child, then the following information would need to be provided to the SSA:

  • Your proof of birth. This can be a birth certificate or any other document that proves your birth
  • Your child’s proof of birth which can be either a birth certificate or any document that proves his/her birth and/or your child’s proof of adoption.
  • Your proof of marriage to the primary beneficiary (if you are not the primary beneficiary). The proof should indicate that you were/are married to the primary.
  • Discharge papers from the American military
  • Tax returns forms for the last year


You can call the national SSA number 1-800-772-1213. If you are hard of hearing or deaf, you can call the TTY number 1-800-325-0778. Both numbers are toll-free

You can also visit your local Social Security office to apply. It is better to make an appointment before you visit the SSA office as there is limited staff and the wait times are very high.

You can read the Social Security booklet Benefits for Children with Disabilities for more detailed information about what benefits are available for children with disabilities. These benefits listed also include medical support that you would need for your disabled child.


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