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Are Kids with Learning Disabilities Eligible for Social Security Benefits?

social security for learning disabilities

When your child is diagnosed with a developmental disorder or learning disorder, you may wonder how you can best support them as they grow throughout childhood and prepare for adulthood. Depending on your family’s financial circumstances and the extent of your child’s disabilities, they may qualify for Supplemental Security Income. This program, managed by the SSA, provides funds to be used for a child’s housing, food, medical expenses, and other needs.

If your child has a learning disability, learn more about SSI and the program’s requirements. Take the first step in your application by calling Walton Law at 251-455-5819.

Supplemental Security Income for Kids with Learning Disabilities

SSI, though primarily given to elderly adults and adults with disabilities, is available for children with significant physical and mental impairments or delays. However, note that you will need to do significant work to prove the extent of your child’s disability if you plan on receiving SSI payments for them.

Learning disabilities are categorized by the Social Security Administration as “neurodevelopmental disorders.” You’ll need to meet the requirements of this listing to have your application approved.

Meeting Disability Requirements

Under 112.11, the listing for neurodevelopmental disorders requires that you meet two types of requirements to receive benefits. First, your child must meet one of the following:

  • Frequent distractibility, difficulty paying attention, and struggling to organize tasks or impulsive and hyperactive behavior
  • Significant difficulties using academic skills
  • Recurring motor movements and vocalizations

In addition, the child must have extreme limitation of one of the following categories or marked limitation of two of the following categories:

  • Understanding, recalling, and using information
  • Interacting with other people
  • Concentrating, persisting, and maintaining pace
  • Adapting and managing oneself

Proving your child’s disability may seem like an uphill battle, but you can start by gathering as much evidence as possible. It will be helpful to have as much documentation as possible from the child’s doctors, teachers, and educational specialists. You may want to get your child’s IQ scores, provide grades, and get written reports from those involved in your child’s academic work. Your child’s Individualized Education Program is also helpful if they receive specific assistance or allowances at school.

Medical documents outlining the testing done on the child, their limitations, and failed treatment options are also useful as you apply for SSI.

Income and Resources

The SSI program can be somewhat complicated for applicants since it is need-based. While the disability program does not take your income and resources into account, the SSI program does. When you are applying on behalf of a child, the SSA doesn’t just look at the child’s resources. They will also look at the resources of the parents and others living in the household. If your assets and resources exceed the limits for the SSI program, your child will not be able to receive SSI benefits. This is the case regardless of how severe their learning disability is.

The SSA will deem resources and income if the child is under the age of 18, lives with their parents, or lives away at school but comes home on a regular basis. This also includes a stepparent’s income and resources if the stepparent lives in the same home as the child.

Some types of income and benefits do not count against the child for SSI purposes. This includes TANF, VA pensions, foster care payments, the home in which the child lives, and one vehicle used by those in the household. Of the remaining income and resources, only part counts against the child for SSI.

Diagnoses That Qualify for Immediate Payments

In general, the process of getting approved for SSI takes between three and five months. There are some circumstances in which the SSI will immediately begin sending payments while the approval process happens. Qualifying conditions include:

  • Complete blindness or deafness
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Down syndrome
  • Severe intellectual disability in a child four years of age or older
  • Muscular dystrophy

Discuss Your Options with Walton Law

If your child has significant learning disabilities and you’re not sure what comes next, let us help you through this process. The team at Walton Law focuses exclusively on disability, so we’re ready to advocate for our clients every step of the way. Set up a consultation now by calling us at 251-455-5819 or reaching out to us online.

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