• Social Security

    Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) are federal programs that provide assistance to eligible children and adults with disabilities. Both programs are administered by the Social Security Administration and only individuals who have a disability and meet medical criteria may qualify for benefits. SSI pays benefits based on financial need. SSDI pays benefits to you and certain members of your family if you worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes.

    The Complex Care Center at Cincinnati Children's provides information to help families and healthcare providers identify sources of financial assistance.

  • Social Security has two programs that provide assistance for eligible children and adults with disabilities:

    • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) child disability benefits are paid to children, under age 18, who are disabled, and have low family income and limited resources. SSI adult disability benefits assist people, over age 18, who are disabled, and have limited individual income and resources in addition to not being capable of substantial gainful employment.
    • Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) is designed to help people with disabilities who have worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes. Individuals, age 18 or older and disabled before age 22, may be eligible to receive benefits under SSDI's "Disabled Adult Child" program if a parent is deceased or is currently receiving retirement or disability benefits. This Disabled Adult Child benefit is paid on the parent's earning record. SSDI is based on an individual's disability and not being capable of substantial gainful employment.

    SSI is a needs-based program for an individual who is:

    • Disabled, any age or
    • Blind, any age or
    • Age 65 and older

    And who:

    • Has very limited income and resources
    • Is not capable of gainful employment or substantial work (more than $1,000 per month)
    • Is a U.S. citizen, national or "qualified alien"
    • Is a U.S. resident, not absent from the country for more than a full calendar month or 30 consecutive days

    SSDI is based on an individual's disability and not being capable of substantial gainful employment. SSDI pays benefits to adults, age 18 and older, who have a disability that began before age 22. This is paid on the parent's Social Security earnings record and is referred to as Disabled Adult Child (DAC) benefits. To qualify for this benefit, one of the parents must be receiving Social Security retirement or disability benefits or have died but worked long enough and contributed to Social Security. The adult child does not need to have worked to get these benefits. SSDI Disabled Adult Child benefits continue as long as the individual remains:

    • Medically disabled and unable to do substantial work
    • Single (unless married to another beneficiary)

    The Social Security Administration has a great deal of information and many forms available on their web site:

  • Frequently Asked Questions

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    What is the Definition of a Disabled Child?

    To be considered as a disabled child for SSI, the child must be under age 18 and:

    • Have a physical and/or mental condition(s) expected to last at least 12 months or to end in death
    • Have a condition that can be medically proven and results in marked and severe functional limitation
    • Is not capable of performing "substantial work" (more than $1,000 per month)

    Some of the most common disabilities in children under age 18 receiving SSI include mental disorders, mental retardation, nervous, respiratory and blood diseases.

    Will a Disabled Child Qualify for SSI?

    This depends on:

    • Limited income of disabled child and parent(s) in household
    • Limited resources of disabled child and parent(s) in household
    • Living arrangements

    What is Meant by Limited Income and Resources?

    The income and resources of the child as well as the family members, including step-parents, living in the household are considered. "Limited income" includes work, unemployment benefits, cash from friends or relatives and gifts. "Limited resources" are things that are owned and includes cash, bank accounts, stocks and bonds, with the total resources not to be above $2,000 for an individual or $3,000 for a couple. The process of determining how much of the parents income and resources is looked at is called "deeming" and this is considered until the child's 18th birthday.

    How are Living Arrangements Considered?

    SSI benefits may vary depending on whether a child lives in someone else's household, in group care or in an institution. Monthly benefits may be adjusted.

    What Happens When a Disabled Child Reaches Age 18?

    A child who could not receive SSI benefits due to the family's income and resources being too high, may now be eligible because only the individual's income and resources are considered. It is important to have very limited income and resources in the child's name. Resources that are part of a Special Needs Trust will not be included. In addition, the child must now qualify as a disabled adult. The child can apply for SSI the month he or she turns 18. If the child continues to live with parents, but does not pay for food or shelter, lower SSI payments might be received.

    What is the Definition of a Disabled Adult?

    To be considered as a disabled adult for SSI, the individual must be age 18 or older and:

    • Have a physical or mental condition(s) that is severe enough to prevent "substantial gainful activity" (more than $1000 per month)
    • Have a condition(s) expected to last at least 12 months or result in death
    • Age, education and work experience are considered (if applicable)

    What are Compassionate Allowances?

    Compassionate allowances are a way of providing benefits quickly to applicants whose medical conditions are so serious that they obviously meet disability standards. You can find a list of conditions that qualify for quick financial assistance.

    How Can SSI Help?

    Individuals who qualify for SSI typically also qualify for Medicaid. In Ohio and Indiana, you must first apply for SSI before submitting a separate application for Medicaid. In Kentucky, you can apply for both programs at the same time.

    Can A Child Still Qualify for Medicaid if SSI is Denied?

    If SSI is denied for a non-medical reason, such as being above the income limit, Medicaid may make its own determination based on the nature and severity of the disability. An individual may qualify for a Medicaid waiver.

    Can the disabled child, age 18 or older, receive SSDI if a parent is not currently receiving Social Security retirement or disability benefits or is deceased?

    A disabled adult can earn SSDI based on his or her own work record and payment of Social Security taxes. Before age 24, you may qualify if you have earned 6 work credits in the 3 year period before becoming medically disabled and unable to continue to do substantial work. In 2009, you must have earned $1,090 for 1 work credit.  

    Is There an Advantage to Receiving SSDI?

    A significant advantage is that you will qualify for Medicare after receiving SSDI for 24 months.  An individual may want to have Medicare in addition to Medicaid because the combination can provide better access to care. Medicaid patients are usually seen only at public health clinics. Private practices would rather treat Medicare patients because of the higher reimbursement rate. This situation becomes even more extreme in adult health care and finding a private physician can be extremely difficult. An advantage of the Disabled Adult Child program is that it does not consider the individual's non-employment income, such as an inheritance, a law suit settlement or a spouse's income.

    Can an Individual Receive SSDI and SSI benefits?

    You may be eligible to receive SSI in addition to SSDI if the Disabled Adult Child benefits are below a certain amount.

  • Contact Us

    We want to hear from you. Email us with your feedback or suggestions for additional resources. Call our Family Resource Center at 513-636-7606 with your questions.