This is Paul Badame from Rubin & Badame law, your Social Security Disability firm. Today we're going to talk about SSI for children. When it comes to SSI for children, there are two main criteria. The first is the eligibility criteria and the second is the medical criteria.
First let's talk about the eligibility criteria. The first part of the criteria is that the individual must be a child. For SSI for children, the definition of a child is any person under 18 years old. It doesn't matter whether or not the child is in high school. The rules are clear: once you're 18, you're considered an adult and you fall under the adult rules. So the child must be under 18 years old.
The asset limit
The second part is the asset limit. There are two parts to the asset limit. There's an asset limit for a single-parent household and then there's an asset limit for a married household or a two-parent household. The asset limit for a single-parent household is $2,000.
There are exceptions to that asset limit. The parent or the parents are allowed one house and one car. They don't count as part of that $2000. Any other assets like bank accounts, stocks, bonds, and mutual funds do, but there are a few exceptions, like a burial plot, that aren't considered.
Basically, they are allowed one house and one car. All the other assets cannot exceed $2,000. If they do, the child is ineligible to apply for SSI no matter how medically disabled they might be.
For a married or two-parent household, the asset limit requirement rises to $3,000. It only increases by $1,000. The same limits and exceptions are in place: the house, the car. Again, with a few minor exceptions, the remainder of the assets cannot exceed $3,000 for a married or two-person household.
The second part of the eligibility requirement is the parental income, the household income. When it comes to child SSI cases, Social Security has developed what is called the DME charts. They're updated every year and they're on their website on ssa.gov. You just search for ssa.gov and put in SSI DME charts.
It'll take too long for me to explain how they're calculated, but they have a chart on the website and it's based on whether there's one parent in the household or whether there are two parents. And it also depends on how many non-disabled children there are.
For example, let's say the household includes three minor children, one for whom you're applying for SSI, and two other children who are not disabled. Then it also depends on whether you're a one-parent household or a two-parent household. The DME charts go up a little bit. You're allowed to earn a little bit more income when you have other minor children who are not disabled in the household. That's the earned income part.
The other part is unearned income. That includes unemployment benefits or benefits from a pension. The income limits for unearned income are lower than those for earned income. If you're working in a job and you get a paycheck, the ceiling is higher. You can earn more money and the child will still be eligible for SSI. But if you're getting unearned income, the income you can earn is less.
Those are the basic eligibility requirements when it comes to a child being eligible to at least apply and then staying on children's SSI. The next part of a child being eligible to receive children's SSI is the medical part.
When it comes to the medical requirements, there are only three ways for a child to be considered disabled. The first is that the child meets a listing. Social Security has a Blue Book of listings. There are a lot of them, for every kind of impairment you can think of. They must meet those criteria, and it's very difficult to meet them, The first part of that is if they do meet a listing, then they are considered disabled, and they're approved.
The second way, the medical way depends on whether they meet the intent of the listing. That means they may be really close to meeting it, maybe a proverbial inch or two away from meeting that listing. A doctor from Social Security may say they equal the intended listing. They come really close. They don't meet it, but they equal it. Only Social Security doctors can determine whether or not a child equals the intent of the listing.
And then there's the third, and in my opinion, the most common way for a child to be considered disabled. Do they functionally equal the listing? When it comes to functionally equaling the listings, there are six main categories that Social Security has developed for determining whether or not a child is considered disabled.
The six categories
The first category is acquiring and using information. The second category is attending and completing tasks. The third category is interacting and relating with others. The fourth category is moving about and manipulating objects. The fifth category is caring for self, and the sixth category is health and physical wellbeing.
Now I could sit here for half an hour and tell you about the criteria for each of these functional requirements to meet the listing. I'll leave that for another day. Basically, when it comes to functionally equaling the listings, either two of those listings, two of the six listings have to be at a marked level, or one of them has to be at an extreme level.
My experience has been that it's very difficult to meet those requirements when it comes to an extreme limitation. Most of the time, it's a marked limitation when it comes to the requirement of being functionally equal to listings for children.