Does My Child Qualify for SSI Benefits?

Episode 6: In today’s episode, Trevor Smith, Louisville SSI attorney, discusses a question he often gets from parents, “Does my child qualify for SSI benefits?”  He’ll explain the evaluation criteria, issues parents need to consider and how he can assist parents in filing for SSI benefits.

There are 6 domains used by the social security administration to evaluate a child for Supplemental Security Income payments:

  • Acquiring and using information
  • Attending and completing tasks
  • Interacting and relating with others
  • Moving about and manipulating objects
  • Caring for yourself
  • Health and physical wellbeing

The child must demonstrate a “marked” limitation in 2 of the above domains or have an extreme limitation in one of them.  The term “marked” falls between medium and extreme.  Evidence will typically come from the school records and information provided by teachers and counselors.  Trevor has a series of forms that he gives to parents for the school to complete.  Judges put a lot of emphasis on the feedback provided by the teachers and counselors.  These are extremely important to support the argument that a child qualify for SSI Benefits.

Common Issues Considered

  • Does your child have an IEP at his/her school?
  • Is there a cognitive issue or behavioral issue (including ADHD and /or autism)?
  • Is there a birth defect or physical issue with a limb?
  • Is the child blind?
  • Was the child severely injured?

Interestingly, being diagnosed with ADHD or autism does not automatically mean the child qualifies.

SSI Benefits can be up to $780 per month.  The child will also get Medicaid.  Remember though, the qualification for benefits involves an income test.  If the family has resources, the child may not qualify for SSI benefits.

How Does the SSI Application Work?

Trevor cannot file the initial application for a child’s SSI.  The parent needs to apply.  However, if the application is denied, Trevor can then step in and assist the parent, on behalf of the child.

Can the Social Security Administration Stop the Payments?

Once the child is receiving supplemental security income payments, the social security administration may decide to stop the benefit payments.  This is called cessation.  Trevor can represent the family/child in appealing the attempt to stop the SSI benefits.

During the appeals process, the family can elect to continue receiving payments.  If the appeal is unsuccessful, the family must repay the money received during the appeal.  The family can decide to not receive payments during the appeal.  If Trevor wins the appeal, the payments will be reinstated and the family will receive the back pay (the money they should have received while the appeal was being handled).

How Long Does the Process Take?

Once the application is filed, they may not receive a decision for 180 days.  If they are denied, they only have 60 days to appeal the decision (“request for reconsideration”).

There can actually be a series of denials.  The key point to remember is that you shouldn’t get discouraged.  Be patient and don’t give up.  Trevor Smith has years of experience working to ensure that child qualify for SSI benefits.

For information about how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the social security benefits process, you can listen to the discussion from Episode 5.

You can contact Smith and Wax at (502) 581-1133.  The website is

Important Disclaimers:  The information provided on this podcast is for general informational purposes only.  It should not be construed as legal advice and does not constitute an attorney-client relationship.  You should seek the advice of an attorney for guidance related to your specific situation.  This podcast maybe freely shared, but may not be the modified or edited in any way.  This is an attorney advertisement.   Principal office is located in Louisville, KY.  Co-host Jim Ray is a non-attorney spokesperson.

Attorney Trevor Smith answers Does My Child Qualify for SSI Benefits?