Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for Children: A Guide for Parents
The Social Security Administration (SSA) administers the SSI program for children. SSI provides income to low-income families with limited resources who have a child with a disability. SSA has clear guidelines for defining disability in a child:
- The child must have a physical or mental condition(s) that very seriously limits his or her activities; and
- The condition(s) must have lasted, or be expected to last, at least 1 year or result in death.
Disabled children from birth to age 18 may collect SSI. When determining eligibility, SSA reviews the income, resources and size of the family to determine financial eligibility. SSI is not a medical insurance program, however in many states, once a child is determined to be SSI eligible, they are also eligible for Medicaid.
Many childhood cancers also fall under a category called "compassionate allowance diagnosis (CAL)." This means that the condition obviously meets disability standards. A compassionate allowance diagnosis can help to fast track the approval process. Several pediatric cancers meet compassion allowance requirements including: acute leukemia, grade III/IV astrocytoma, bilateral retinoblastoma, pediatric lymphoblastic lymphoma, pediatric lymphoma, neuroblastoma with distant metastases/recurrences, chondrosarcoma, Ewing sarcoma, hepatoblastoma, medulloblastoma, osteosarcoma and aplastic anemia. A complete list of CAL conditions may be viewed online at: https://www.ssa.gov/compassionateallowances/conditions.htm. If your child meets compassionate allowance requirements be sure to state this on every phone call and communication with SSA.
There are strict income requirements for SSI eligibility. The chart below is a guideline for how SSA looks at your family’s income to determine eligibility.
The application process for SSI takes patience, organization, and perseverance. To begin the application process, parents can contact SSA by phone (800-772-1213) or in person at a SSA local office. You must also complete a child disability report (https://secure.ssa.gov/apps6z/i3820/main.html) which can be done online or by paper. Be sure you apply AND complete the child disability report!
For more information about the application process for SSI for a child visit: https://www.ssa.gov/disabilityssi/apply-child.html
Your social worker or financial counselor can also provide support and assistance when applying for SSI for your child.
Other Helpful links:
Information about SSI from the Social Security Administration: https://www.ssa.gov/ssi/index.htm
Understanding SSI for Children from the Social Security Administration: https://www.ssa.gov/ssi/text-child-ussi.htm