How to Get Disability Benefits for Your Child in Arkansas

Social security programs are often associated with older individuals. But did you know that young people can also be eligible? Like their adult counterparts, children can also qualify for disability if they suffer from a serious injury or illness. However, the rules and requirements for children are very different.

When an individual worked a sufficient amount of time to qualify for monthly Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, their children could also receive a monthly benefit. If someone has not worked long enough or contributed to the Social Security system, they could be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Unlike SSDI, if a person’s children are not eligible to receive benefits through their parents’ SSI. However, children could still qualify for SSI because it is based on an individual’s medical condition and financial needs.

Understanding and applying for Social Security benefits is complicated and easily overwhelming. If you are looking for disability benefits for your child, you need one of our Fayetteville Social Security Disability attorneys. Contact Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, to discuss your situation and options. Call (479) 316-0438 to set up a free consultation at one of our law offices.

Basic Disability Requirements for Children in Arkansas

While the rules for obtaining child disability benefits are different from those which apply to adults, there are a few basic similarities. As with adults, a child’s disability must last (or be expected to last) for a period of no fewer than 12 months or be expected to end in death.

The severity requirement is also similar. For adults, the impairment in question must prohibit the claimant from working. Needless to say, most children are not earning an income, so as an alternative, the child’s disability must “cause marked and severe functional limitations.”

These “functional limitations” are measured in terms of a claimant’s RFC, or Residual Functional Capacity. RFC is divided into separate physical and mental assessments. The former evaluates the applicant’s ability to perform basic functions like standing, sitting, walking, reaching, and lifting. The latter weighs mental abilities, such as concentration and memory.

A disabled child may be able to receive benefits through one of two programs:

  • SSI (Supplemental Security Income)
  • SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance)

Obtaining benefits through SSDI is somewhat unlikely where children are concerned, as SSDI is based largely on the number of work credits a person has accumulated through employment over the years. Typically, children are more likely to qualify through SSI, which is based primarily on financial need.

Conditions That Can Qualify Your Child for Disability

Regardless of age, the SSA does not award benefits to individuals whose conditions can be easily controlled and suppressed with treatment. The impairment involved with a claim must be considered “severe.”

To gauge severity, SSA claims examiners refer to a document known as the “Blue Book,” or Listing of Impairments. The Listing supplies specific criteria for numerous common medical conditions. If a condition is not included, you may still be able to qualify with a medical-vocational allowance, or through the Compassionate Allowances program. Your pediatrician’s opinions and medical records will be compared against the criteria supplied in the Listing to decide about your child.

Because they are physically and mentally different from grown adults, children have their own version of the Listing. While many impairments overlap, Part B: Childhood Listings includes several conditions which are not on the adult Listing.

For example, an entire section is devoted to Growth Impairment (100.00), which is not mentioned for adults. ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is also included exclusively in the childhood listings under Section 112.11, although adults may be able to be approved on the same basis.

Some common medical conditions which can qualify your child for disability include:

  • Anxiety:06
  • Asthma:03
  • Autism:10
  • Blindness:02
  • Bone Fractures:06, 101.07
  • Burns:08, 108.08
  • Dermatitis:05
  • Developmental Disorders:12
  • Diabetes (under age six, requiring daily insulin):08
  • Down Syndrome (non-mosaic):06
  • Epilepsy:02, 111.03
  • Hearing Loss:10, 102.11
  • Intellectual Disability:05
  • Mood Disorders (e.g. depression): 04
  • Personality Disorders (e.g. antisocial personality disorder ): 08

You can read the federal regulations for how the SSA evaluates children here.

Dependent Child Benefits Through Your Social Security Disability Insurance in Arkansas

Under certain circumstances, Social Security benefits could be available to your child if you become disabled and qualify for SSDI. Under the SSA, dependent children include your biological children, adopted children, and any dependent stepchildren.

If your child is unmarried and under the age of 18, they could be eligible under your benefits. If your child is older than 18, then two exceptions exist. First, your child must be under the age of 19 and enrolled as a full-time student in a secondary or high school. Additionally, if the disability occurred before your child turned 22, they could qualify for monthly payments under your benefits.

Grandchildren and Social Security Dependent’s Benefits in Arkansas

Another common question occurs when a grandparent is raising a child. Your grandchild could be eligible under your SSDI benefits if certain circumstances exist.

The child’s biological parents must be either disabled or deceased. Furthermore, you must provide regular support for your grandchild. Your grandchild must have resided with you for the 12 months before their disability made them eligible for SSDI. If your grandchild is less than a year old, they must have lived with you for a substantial part of their short life. Finally, you must have provided at least half of the financial support for the child. However, if someone legally adopts their grandchildren, they are treated as biological children and the previous requirements no longer apply. If you have any concerns about dependent benefits, contact our experienced Arkansas Social Security Disability attorneys.

How Much Do Children In Arkansas Receive in Social Security Disability Benefits?

Your child could receive SSDI benefits equal to 50% of your full disability benefit. In situations where the parents are deceased, the child is eligible to receive up to 75% of their parents’ benefits.

Under the SSA’s calculations, there is a limit to the total a family could receive based on the worker’s earnings history. If your family surpasses this limit, some individual payments will be reduced.

It is important to note that children’s Social Security Disability benefits are considered taxable income. However, that does not mean that your child will be required to pay taxes. Typically, if the child’s income and one-half of their benefits do not exceed $25,000, there is no tax obligation.

Supplement Security Income for Children in Arkansas

Unlike SSDI, Supplement Security Income is available for disabled individuals from the date of birth. For purposes of SSI, a child is someone not married or the head of a household and is under the age of 18 or the age of 22 and regularly attending school.

As stated above, these benefits are available from the date of birth. However, the child must suffer from a qualifying condition. SSI is available until the child reaches the age of 18. At this time, the SSA will reevaluate the individual’s condition and financial eligibility as if an adult. Because SSI is a need-based program, a child must also meet a financial and resources requirement.

Financial and Resource Requirements for SSI

SSI is based on a child’s impairment and financial need. Therefore, the SSA will consider the parents’ income and resources that are available to a child. If a child lives with a stepparent, their income will also factor into the SSA’s determination.

This process is referred to as “deeming” and is very complicated. However, to prevent the program from being too limiting, the SSA will look at various factors to determine the maximum income and resource limits for a family of a child applying for SSI benefits. Some of the factors include where the family lives, how many people are in the houseful, and the specific living arrangements.

The SSA will total all earned and unearned income in the household. However, some notable exceptions include food stamps, court-order child support, tax returns, veterans’ pensions, and benefits through other social assistance programs. Once the income is calculated, the SSA will apply a series of deductions.

After the deductions have been calculated, the remainder is divided in half and any other available income exclusions are then calculated. The final step is deducting an amount equal to the current SSI federal benefit rate. As of 2021, the monthly amount is $794 for an eligible person, $1,191 for an eligible person with a spouse, and $397 for an essential individual.

It is also important to note that the SSA will reevaluate this calculation monthly. If there is an increase in household income or a change in the household size, the SSA could discontinue benefits. There is also a limit on the parental resources available in addition to the household income. Applying and qualifying for SSI for your child is challenging. To help ensure you do not make any common errors, you should have one of our knowledgeable Bentonville Social Security Disability lawyers working on your behalf.

Our Arkansas Social Security Disability Attorneys Are Available to Help You Apply for Benefits for Your Child

If you are trying to get a claim approved for your child, our experienced Rogers Social Security Disability benefits lawyers can help. To schedule a private legal consultation, call Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law at (479) 316-0438, or contact us online.