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Supplemental Security Income for Children

Dec. 8, 2021

Children who are blind or disabled are eligible to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The Social Security Administration (SSA) considers a "child" to be an unmarried individual who is under age 18 or, if under age 22, is a student who regularly attends school. A "child" cannot be the head of a household. There is no minimum age requirement; a child may be eligible for benefits from birth.

A child is disabled if he has a medically determinable impairment that causes severe and marked limitations in his ability to function, which has lasted or is expected to last at least twelve months or result in death. When the child reaches age eighteen, his disability is reevaluated under the criteria for adults, i.e. whether the individual can engage in substantial gainful activity and whether his impairment has lasted or is expected to last at least twelve months or end in death.

"Blindness" for purposes of SSI eligibility means that the individual has 20/200 vision or less in his better eye even with corrective eyewear. A person is also considered "blind" if he has a limited field of vision in his better eye such that he has a contraction of peripheral visual fields to ten degrees from the point of fixation or the widest diameter of his visual field subtends an angle no more than twenty degrees. Even though a child does not meet the statutory definition of blindness, he may still be eligible for benefits pursuant to a "disability."

A child's SSI benefits are based on the fact that he has "limited" income and resources. For purposes of making this determination, the SSA will impute to the child a portion of the income/resources from the child's parents. The parents' income/resources are deemed to be available to the child as long as he lives with such parents and they are not, themselves, receiving SSI benefits.