A child who is blind or disabled may qualify for Social Security disability through the Supplemental Security Income program administered by the Social Security Administration. Because it is a needs-based program, a child must meet income limits for SSD to qualify for benefits.
Federal law and regulations allow Social Security to also take into consideration the income of a child’s parents and, in certain instances, a stepparent through a process known as deeming. Deeming attributes a portion of parental income to the child to determine whether the child qualifies for benefits.
Income limits and deeming add to the complexity of applying for benefits on behalf of a child unless you know the rules and the determination process Social Security uses. As you read through the information that follows about income limits and disability benefits for a child, you should keep in mind that it is not a substitute for having a knowledgeable and experienced Social Security disability lawyer from Scully Disability handling an application or an appeal on behalf of your child.
Income limits that apply to a child
Anyone applying for benefits through the SSI program, including a child, must meet the income limit, which is subject to annual adjustment. The income limit for an individual applying for SSI as blind or disabled is equal to the federal benefit rate, which for 2021 is $794 a month. The monthly rate for couples is $1,191.
It must be noted in any discussion of the SSI program that a distinction exists between earned income and unearned income, as well as the fact that SSA regulations exclude some sources of income for both a child and parents. Earned income includes money received as wages from working for an employer or the net earnings received through self-employment. Anything a person receives as compensation for other than their work effort is unearned income.
A child may have as much as $814 in unearned income each month and be eligible for disability benefits through SSI in 2021. Earned income may be as much as $1,673 a month in 2021 for someone already approved for and receiving SSI disability benefits.
However, the SSA uses monthly earned income as one of its criteria for determining whether a person applying for benefits is disabled; and earning more than $1,1310 means, according to SSA regulations, that a person is capable of engaging in substantial gainful employment and does not meet the disability standard to qualify for benefits. The monthly earned income allowance for a child or adult filing for benefits because of blindness rather than other types of disability is $2,190.
An SSI lawyer should be consulted when applying for Social Security disability benefits to determine how the guidelines specifically apply to your claim or the claim filed on behalf of a child. For example, some states supplement disability benefits paid through SSI, so the income limits may be higher for applicants residing in those states.
Exclusions from income
Social Security excludes some sources of income when determining whether a blind or disabled child qualifies for benefits. The list of exclusions is extensive and should be discussed with an SSD lawyer, but some of the exclusions include the following:
- The first $20 of monthly earned or unearned income.
- The first $65 of income is earned in a month and half of the remaining balance.
- Income tax refunds.
- Benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP, which was previously referred to as food stamps.
- Money is received through state-administered social services programs.
When determining whether a child under 18 years of age qualifies for SSD benefits, the income sources of parents must be taken into consideration. This happens through the process known as deeming.
Deeming parental income
Parental income is a factor in determining whether a child qualifies for Social Security disability benefits. Social Security applies a formula that deducts $397 from the monthly income of the child’s parents for each child without a disability residing in the home. It also applies the allowable exclusions to the parental income that remains, divides the balance in half, and deducts the monthly benefit rate of $1,191 when the disabled child lives with two parents or a parent and stepparent. If a child lives with only one parent, the amount deducted is $794. The parental income that remains is what Social Security deems as available to the child in determining eligibility for benefits.
Special rule for adults disabled from childhood
A disabled child who qualified for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits through the work record of a parent may continue to receive benefits after reaching 18 years of age. Speak with an SSDI lawyer if you believe you may be eligible for benefits through this rule.
Get help from a Social Security disability lawyer
An SSD lawyer from Scully Disability possesses an insightful knowledge of the law and regulations needed to ensure that your application for Social Security disability benefits or a challenge of an adverse decision is handled with skill and dedicated advocacy. Contact us today for a free consultation and case evaluation.