A blind or otherwise disabled child may be entitled to benefits under the Supplemental Security Income program. The Social Security Administration applies strict income and financial resource limitations to all applicants for blind or disabled benefits. When an application is submitted on behalf of a child, a parent’s income becomes a factor when evaluating whether or not a child qualifies for payments.

The rules used to determine how much can a parent make from SSI on behalf of a child can be complicated and may easily lead to confusion. The following information about the program and the qualifying standards used to evaluate an application may enhance a parent’s understanding as well as provide insight about working with a disability attorney.

A look at the SSI program for children

The SSI program provides financial assistance to disabled adults and children who qualify for benefits. Applicants must be disabled and meet income and financial resource limitations.

To qualify for SSI benefits, a child must be 18 years of age or younger and be blind or disabled according to the following criteria:

  • Blindness: A child whose best eye has a central visual acuity of 20/200 or less or has a visual-field impairment within specified limits.
  • Disabled: A disabled child must have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment causing marked and severe functional limitations. The impairment must have lasted or be expected to last for at least 12 consecutive months or result in death.

A child whose visual impairment does not meet the standard for being blind may still be eligible for benefits as disabled.

If medical records show that a child meets the qualifying standard for being disabled or blind, the application process includes a review of assets, which SSI refers to as financial resources, and available income. The total value of financial resources available to the child cannot exceed $2,000. Income limitations also apply when determining whether a child qualifies for SSI, but they can be complicated by the fact that the income of the parents must be considered as part of the application and eligibility process

How much can a parent make for a child to qualify for SSI?

A review of a child’s eligibility for SSI takes into account the income and financial resources of the parents by presuming that at least a portion of the income and assets is available for support of a child living in the same household with his or her parents. The income and resources of adoptive parents are included when reviewing an application for SSI submitted on behalf of a child. The definition of a “parent” used to determine the income and resources for a child to get SSI includes a stepparent who resides in the same household as the child.

Deemed income, which presumes that parental income and resources are available to support a child living in the same household, may include situations where a child lives at a school and away from home for at least part of the year. The income and financial resources of parents will be considered for SSI eligibility purposes if the parents continue to exercise parental control and the child returns home from school for weekends, holidays, or vacations.

The amount a parent may earn as income for purposes of SSI depends upon the number of children residing in the household. Allowable income increases based upon how many children other than the blind or disabled child a parent supports and when two parents are contributing to the household income. For example, a single parent with only one child may earn as much as $3,257 a month without affecting the child’s eligibility for SSI. Allowable income increases to $4,041 a month when two parents in the household have earned income and only one child to support.

A parent’s income is not limited only to what is earned from working at a job. Unemployment compensation and Social Security benefits received by parents are forms of unearned income that count toward determining a child’s eligibility for SSI benefits.

Financial resources of a parent deemed available for the benefit of a child do not include all resources. For example, a home owned by parents and used as their primary residence does not count as a resource, but the value of a vacation home or income-producing property would be a financial resource.

Consult an experienced disability attorney

When applying for SSI benefits for a child, obtaining sound and knowledgeable advice and representation from a skilled disability attorney is essential. At the Law Office of Daniel Berger, we make it our business to provide the advice and guidance you need when applying for SSI or other disability benefits. Arrange for a free consultation by visiting our website or calling us at (855) 444-7024.