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How Many Children, Teens, and Other Young People Receive Social Security Benefits?


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Senior citizens and retirees are not the only ones who receive Social Security payments. While we generally associate older adults with Social Security, many children, teens, and other young adults are also eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSI or SSDI). If you are considering using Social Security to help your family after a parent passes away, or to help care for a developmentally challenged child, call Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law. Our Fayetteville AR disability lawyer offers free consultations to help clients seeking Social Security support their family.

Children Can Get a Parent’s Social Security Benefits

One way a child can obtain benefits through the Social Security Administration and its array of benefits programs is when a parent passes away, becomes severely disabled, or retires. Claiming these types of benefits is actually quite common. According to Social Security Administration statistics, more than 325,000 children of retirees currently receive a monthly cash benefit averaging $628. Additionally, roughly 1.7 million children receive an average disability benefit of $335 through their parent. Furthermore, about 1.2 million children whose parents have passed away collect survivor benefits averaging $821 a month.

These are called “derivative benefits,” when a child gets their parent’s Social Security payments. These payments often help children whose parents are unable to continue raising them. When parents die, become disabled, or retire with younger children, Social Security may be able to help provide support the children.

With these kinds of benefits, children are able to continue to afford going to high school, paying for books and supplies, and living their lives. Even if their parents cannot work to continue supporting them, Social Security payments can help children live their lives without needing to take jobs of their own or worry about whether their parents can afford to support them.

If you have lost a parent or a spouse, this kind of derivative benefit might be able to help keep your family going. The same is true if one parent in your family has become disabled.

Eligibility of Children and Young Adults for Social Security

Children under the age of 18 can qualify for Social Security disability benefits themselves under certain conditions. The first condition is that the child must satisfy the Social Security Administration (SSA)’s definition of “disability.” The SSA awards benefits only for severe disabilities and impairments. A severe impairment is one that causes significant difficulties in the child’s ability to pursue his or her interests, goals, and daily activities independently.

Generally, the conditions need to be confirmed by a doctor and medical evidence. Furthermore, family members, teachers, principals, caregivers, and others may be required to provide evidence of the child’s condition. To receive a benefits award, the child must also meet requirements for personal and household income – families that make too much money are expected to pay for care themselves rather than use Social Security.

Individuals the Social Security Administration considers an “adult child” may also qualify for Social Security benefits. An “adult child” is one who is not married, is between the ages of 18 and 22, and has a severe disability. This means that if a family still cares for a child with a condition like Downs Syndrome or an Autism spectrum disorder, the family may be able to get Social Security support even if the child is over 18.

Unlike Social Security for retirees and disabled adults, children do not need a work history to get SSI. Adults typically need to gain “work credits” by working and paying Social Security FICA taxes. Every year you work gains you up to four credits. These credits are spent on Social Security benefits, when you need to claim them. No case will ever require more than 40 credits to get benefits, but children and young adults, especially if they have disabilities, often have no work credits. These benefits should be available to disabled children and young adults, even without work credits.

If a claims examiner for the Disability Determination Services (DDS) or an administrative law judge (ALJ) determines that a benefits award is proper, these payments are made on behalf of the child to the child or teen’s parent or guardian. The parent or guardian can then use these payments to help support their disabled child or adult child.

After the child turns 22, this support may no longer be available. In that situation, the disabled person (now an adult) may be able to claim Social Security benefits like any other adult would. They may run into problems, though, without the proper number of work credits. Talk to a social security attorney about your options for continuing to support an adult child after they turn 22.

What Conditions Does Social Security Cover for Children?

Children and young adults can suffer any of the same conditions that adults may face. These conditions can prevent them from being able to work, or go to school in the case of a child. In many cases, it may prevent the child or young adult from ever joining the work force in the first place. These kinds of disabilities may include paralysis, loss of limb, or other injuries brought on by serious injuries or accidents.

Children and young adults often face other disabilities, though. Many developmental disorders, or even the effects of birth injuries, may still affect a child through their adult life. These kinds of disorders may prevent a child from ever joining the workforce in the first place. At least until they turn 22 years old, the Social Security system still does what it can to help support these children and young adults.

The following are all examples of developmental and lifelong disabilities that Social Security may cover for children:

  • Spinal disorders
  • Some heart disorders
  • Diabetes in children under six years old
  • Epilepsy
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Motor neuron disorders
  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Personality and impulse control disorders
  • Developmental disorders (sometimes this only for toddlers and infants)

Other conditions and disorders may also be covered. Check with an experienced Social Security attorney to see if your minor child or adult child’s condition is eligible for coverage.

Compassionate and Strategic Arkansas Social Security Attorney

For more than 20 years Ken Kieklak has fought on behalf of children and families with a serious disability. Ken fights to obtain the Social Security disability benefits a parent, child, or family needs to provide stability during a tough time. While every matter is different and subject to its own facts and circumstances, Ken always strives to present a comprehensive report of the impairments in a manner that is clear, straightforward, and convincing.

If you are interested in discussing whether you or your child could qualify for Social Security benefits and whether Ken is the right social security attorney for you, call us at (479) 316-0438 today.

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