SSI for Children and FAQ

The Social Security Disability Program for Children, also known as Children’s SSI is different than with adults.  The disability for children program changed significantly several decades ago.  In 1990 the SSI children program has undergone significant changes starting with a notable 1990 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Sullivan v. Zebley that the Social Security Administration must make an individualized functional analysis in a child disability claim.

Where is the SSI Disability Application (also known as supplemental security income) for children and can I apply for SSI online?  There is a starter kit and there is a disability report that can be done online.

How does Social Security Disability work for children?  Disability and SSI for children is based on Social Security regulations known as “the listings”.  These listings describe relatively severe mental and physical impairments that a child could have.  The child will either need to meet a listing, medically equal a listing, or functionally equal a listing.

How do they determine functionality for children?  The child needs two “marked” or one “extreme” problem in terms of:

  • acquiring and using information
  • attending and completing tasks
  • interacting and relating with others
  • moving about and manipulating objects
  • caring for themselves
  • health and physical well-being.

They consider how the child functions in an every-day setting.  They compare children to their peers who are not disabled.  They look at questions such as what the child is limited in, able or unable to do.  Other questions is where does the child have difficulty.  Also does the child have problems initiating, sustaining, and completing activities.

What types of issues does Social Security recognize as debilitating in children?  It could be any problem but several Social Security Rulings have referenced pain in children.  This pain would be from physical impairments and medicines causing limitations in concentration.  One ruling mentions ADHD in children, that causes problems in socialization.  Children with learning disabilities also have problems as recognized by Social Security.

How much help does the child need?  Social Security considers the degree of support the child needs.   What would the average child receive in terms of help?  The degree of independence the child has is an important consideration here.

How are test scores considered?  Social Security will not rely on test scores alone.  If there is a large discrepancy between the test scores and other information the disability judge will resolve the discrepancy.

What type of evidence is considered?  Although medical records and notes are important once an impairment is identified the judge and any experts must consider all other evidence including non-medical evidence to determine how limited the child is.