Can a minor receive child disability benefits?

Many Pennsylvania parents who have special needs children may want to know whether their children can qualify for child disability benefits. In fact, child disability benefits are provided by two different government programs. Those programs are Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security.

In the case of SSI, a child may be able to qualify for benefits from birth until the age of 18 due to blindness or due to disability. To qualify, the child must have impairment, or multiple impairments sufficient to meet the government's definition of disability in the case of children. Also, the resources and income of the child's parents can only be within certain limitations.

In the case of Social Security, children who are 18 years of age and up can receive monthly benefits based on blindness or disability. To qualify, they must have one or more impairments meeting the government's definition of disability with regard to adults. The disability also has to have begun prior to the age of 22. Further, the child's parent or parents must have worked for a period long enough to qualify for Social Security and be receiving retirement benefits or disability benefits, or the parent is deceased. In the case of both SSI and Social Security, the child also has to have a condition that has already lasted, or is believed will last, for 12 or more months, or until death.

Pennsylvania parents of children with special needs can apply for disability benefits through either Social Security or SSI, depending on which is more appropriate for their and their children's situations. Parents may also wish to seek assistance from a legal professional when pursuing these kinds of benefits, especially if their initial application was denied. Indeed, just because an application for SSI or Social Security child disability benefits was initially denied does not mean that the deficiencies that led to denial are irresolvable.

Source:, "Social Security Q&A: Can children get disability benefits?", Dec. 1, 2014