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Definition of disability for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) children's benefits?

Excerpted from "Social Security Handbook". See the up-to-date, official Social Security Handbook at

517. Definition of disability for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) children's benefits?

A child under age 18 is eligible to receive SSI based on disability if he or she:

  1. Has very little income and resources (see Chapter 21);

  2. Is not engaging in substantial gainful activity (see §603);

  3. Has a physical or mental condition(s) that very seriously limits his or her activities (see §601): and

  4. The condition(s) has lasted, or is expected to last, at least 1 year, or is expected to result in death.

Note: The SSI definition of disability for children is different from the definition of disability for adults under SSI and Social Security disability (see §507). A child's condition(s) must result in "marked and severe functional limitations," which is a level of severity that meets, medically equals, or functionally equals the listings. See Social Security regulations sections 416.924 through 416.926a for the rules about children's disability in the SSI program.

Last Revised: Jul. 26, 2005

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There are 7 Comments

What happens if a father who was ordered to pay child support by the court and was in arrears with the child support when he became eligible for SSI benefits before the child became 18 and now is college and the case was stopped being persued because of the SSI. Is there any grounds for the child to receive any benefits?

my daughter receives soc sec benefits from her father, it was increased once when other sibling reached 18,there are two other siblings that have turned 18, will there be more increases? and will i be notified?

You don't provide details as to the type of benefit (retirement? survivors?), but what you saw earlier is likely due to the "family maximum amount".

Total benefits received by the family, cannot exceed the family maximum amount. That amount is divided among all entitled dependents. The more dependents who receive benefits on the worker's Social Security record, the lower the benefit amount will be for each dependent. However, the family maximum does not affect the wage earner's benefit.

The family maximum amount tends to come into play when there are large (three, four or more) beneficiaries. As the number of beneficiaries decrease, you fall below the maximum, and so individuals may not see their benefits go up as others become adults.

Please contact Social Security directly for your individual case.

Can my 3 year old son receive any SS benefits? He was born with SVT and has erratic heart rhythm, he has behavioral problems and possibly adhd... im a single mom and havent been able to work because of my sons conditions. Is he considered ssi disability? I would like to know what options i have in terms of extra help. Thanks.

In the Social Security "blue book" of disabilities, there is a listing under adults for ventricular tachycardia.

There is a listing in the "blue book" for children for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

See the following on how to get started with the application process :

My daughters boyfriend got SSI after their son was born. Is their son able to get any? She was told no because its SSI.

The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program pays benefits to disabled adults and children who have limited income and resources.

SSI benefits also are payable to people 65 and older without disabilities who meet the financial limits.

Some children who are disabled and have limited family income qualify for SSI. If the newborn son is disabled, you may want to apply for SSI.

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