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SSI benefits and children with disabilities

It is never easy hearing that your child is diagnosed with a disability. Whether this occurred at birth, when he or she was a baby or during their youth, raising a child with a disability can be challenging for parents in Florida and elsewhere. It is not only emotionally taxing but also financially draining. It can be costly keeping up with the financial implications and care associated with the needs and accommodations required for their child. Thus, parents should be aware of the resources designed to help children, such as those overseen by the Social Security Administration.

Unlike adults, children with disabilities only have one lifeline when it comes to receiving Social Security disability benefits. The only program equipped to assist children living with disabilities is the Supplemental Security Income program. However, this program is targeted to help support families caring for children with disabilities that have the lowest income and the most severely impaired children. These are the children living with disabilities such as Downs Syndrome, cerebral palsy, autism, intellectual disabilities and blindness.

Because families caring for children with disabilities face high costs associated with raising the child, more demands on their time and more financial insecurity that those caring for children without disabilities, even the modest income provided by SSI doesn't solve all the problems faced by families. Nonetheless, it reduces the struggles by providing highly individual support for a child in need.

Although it is estimated that around 11 million children in America have special healthcare needs, very few of these children meet the strict eligibility standards set for this program. Whether it is because their disabling condition is not severe enough or because their family's income exceeds the program's low limits, many children with disabilities do not receive the financial support they need. And because a child's eligibility is periodically reviewed, many children lose their eligibility status if they believe their condition has made improvements.

Obtaining Social Security disability benefits for a child can be necessary for some families. Thus, it is important to fully understand the criteria for approval and what steps could be taken if a child is initially denied benefits. An application could be reconsidered or appealed, helping a child obtain the benefits he or she needs.

Source: Cbpp.org, "SSI: A Lifeline for Children with Disabilities," Kathleen Romig, May 11, 2017

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