Supplemental Security Income
The Supplemental Security Income program or SSI awards disability benefits to certain individuals including people with disabilities who live under the poverty line and have very limited income and resources. Unfortunately, since SSI is a means tested program the disabled person must be living under the poverty line in order to qualify for those SSI Disability benefits.
If eligible for SSI, an individual can receive monthly payments up to $721.00 in 2014. Married couples without children, where both spouses are eligible for SSI, can receive up to $1,082.00 per month in 2014.
I sometimes get calls from parents who have over $30,000-$40,000 combined household incomes and even though they have a severely disabled child, for example Down syndrome, unfortunately that child is not going to qualify for disability benefits because the household is not under the poverty line. In cases where a child does financially qualify for disability benefits the medical assessment is going to look at how that child functions compared to a child his or her age. Generally speaking the rule is if the child’s functioning ability is half of what their age group is and it illustrates in the day-to-day behavior than that child will be found disabled. For example, a child has severe ADHD and they have trouble focusing on tasks, dressing themselves or interacting socially with their peers and their behavior is more comparable to that of a five year old than that would be a winning case for ADHD.
In order to win a Social Security Disability case for a child, I often give domains questionnaires to the treating physicians or psychiatrists that specifically ask how that child is functioning compared to other children in their age group and I also give questionnaires to teachers. I get the school records, frequently those children are in Special Education and I have the teachers address issues such as suspensions, absenteeism and disruption in the class. Keep in mind, I mention ADHD and a lot of people call me about ADHD, these days many children are prescribed medications to treat this condition. Please know it is very difficult to win a case for ADHD. You are really going to need to supplement the record with psychiatric records and it’s going to need to be a very severe case of ADHD which shows despite compliance with day-to-day medications this child’s behavior level is still at a disabled level.
If a person is receiving SSI and suddenly comes into an inheritance their SSI may be ceased or terminated. Likewise, if a person gets SSI and suddenly marries someone with an income over the poverty line, then their SSI will also be suspended. SSI is mean tested and looks very much at what your income and resources are and those need to be very limited. SSDI is an insurance program and is no way dependent on how much money you do or do not have.