How Children Qualify for Supplemental Security Income

The SSI process is noted for being difficult and stringent, especially when it comes to qualifying children with disabilities. It’s important to note the entire process and income thresholds when starting the application process.

Caring for a child with a significant disability presents a number of serious challenges, not least of which is the significant financial burden that comes with providing proper care and quality of life.

Whether it’s a parent or guardian taking on this immense responsibility of care, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is the main source of government assistance available for low-income families who need extra support with care.

What SSI Does for Children

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 1.2 million disabled children receive SSI benefits averaging $650 a month and these benefits lift nearly 200,000 children above 50% of the poverty line.

For those who qualify, it helps relieve the financial burden of the caretaker so he/she can attend appointments with the child and offer that vitally important care, which is often more intensive than other conditions. If a parent doesn’t have the ability to create income while providing care, these benefits are essential.

How Children Qualify for SSI

SSI criteria are notably stringent and tough. The child’s impairment must match or equal in severity a list of disabilities that the Social Security Administration (SSA) has put together. In addition, a qualified medical professional must submit proof and evidence of the disability. Any disorder must severely limit the child’s ability to function properly.

Families must also meet income and asset thresholds. If a family earns up to about 100% of the poverty line, they’ll likely qualify for benefits. However, the child’s countable assets must be valued at less than $2,000 if living with one parent and $3,000 if living with two.

The rate of benefit approval changes dramatically based on where the family is located alongside a variety of other factors. SSA takes a number of steps to ensure that only the most impacted families receive benefits.
Once the impacted child turns 18, the SSA reevaluates the child’s condition to determine if the disability warrants continued support into adulthood.

Additionally, according to the SSA, “if a child is under age 18, not married, and lives at home with parent(s) who do not receive SSI benefits, the SSA may consider a portion of the parents’ income and resources as if they were available to the child”. What this means is that families who make some sort of reasonable income may not qualify for SSI as their total income would be deemed too high.

This process, called “deeming,” does not apply when the child turns 18, marries, or no longer lives with a parent. What’s more, “deeming” does not apply, and the SSA may pay up to $30 plus the applicable State supplement when:

  • A disabled child receives a reduced SSI benefit while in a medical treatment facility; and
  • The child is eligible for Medicaid under a State home care plan; and
  • Deeming would otherwise cause ineligibility for SSI benefits.

Washington State Supplemental Security Payment (SSP)

The state has an additional assistance program for those who qualify for SSI. Children can qualify for this additional benefit if they are deemed legally blind as described by SSI qualifications or “receive SSI as a foster child receiving specific services through children’s administration behavior rehabilitation services (BRS) for part or all of a month, and not eligible for foster care reimbursement under Title IV-E of the Social Security Act”. SSP payments are nominal ($40 per month per recipient in 2020).


Considering how difficult the SSI process can be, it’s important to consult a qualified SSI claims attorney if you feel you’ve been wrongly denied. The application and approval process is very strict and oftentimes overlooks applicants who are entitled to benefits. Call Schott Law today at (509) 328-5789 to schedule your free consultation to learn about how we’ve helped Washington SSI applicants get their benefits.