If you are considering applying for Social Security disability benefits on behalf of a child who is blind or disabled, a consultation with a Social Security disability advocate at London Disability should be high on your list of things to do. Navigating through complex and confusing SSD rules and procedures can be challenging and become even more so when applying for benefits on behalf of a child.
One of the reasons for this has to do with the income limits for SSD, which apply to all applicants for benefits through the Supplemental Security Income program. However, the process of deeming complicates matters when benefits are sought for a child because the income and assets of parents and, in some instances, a stepparent may affect the ability of the child to qualify for benefits. What follows is a general overview of SSD for children, and rules you need to know about income limits and deeming.
Disability benefits through the Supplemental Security Income program
The Supplemental Security Income is one of two disability programs available through the Social Security Administration. The other, Social Security Disability Insurance, requires individuals to have a work history at jobs or through self-employment with Social Security taxes paid on the income.
SSI does not have a work-history requirement to qualify for benefits, which makes it better suited for children who are blind or disabled. If a child qualifies for SSI, one of the benefits, in addition to a monthly cash payment, is health coverage through Medicaid in most states.
Qualifying for SSD through SSI remains difficult because of strict income and asset limits imposed by federal regulations specifically for this program. For example, a person applying for SSI cannot have assets or resources, which is the term used by Social Security, with a total value above $2,000 for an individual and $3,000 for a couple. When a child applies for benefits, the income and assets of parents or a stepparent are also taken into consideration through a process referred to as “deeming” to determine whether or not the child receives benefits.
What income limits apply to disability benefits for a child?
Adults and children are subject to the same income limits for Social Security disability that are based on the federal benefit rate established for each year. The FBR for 2021 is $794 for an individual on SSI and $1,191 for a couple. Depending on the state in which a child or adult receiving SSI benefits lives, the FBR may be supplemented by a payment from the state.
Income is defined for purposes of SSD as cash or other in-kind payment that can be used to pay for food or shelter. For example, if a friend or relative buys food for a person, the fair market value of the food is treated as in-kind income.
Countable income reduces the SSI benefit a person receives each month, but some income does not count. Non-countable income includes the following:
A). The first $20 of income received from any source during the month.
B). The first $65 of monthly income earned from work.
C). One-half of monthly earned income over the first $65.
D). Income tax refunds.
The list of non-countable income sources is extensive, so you should ask your SSD advocate at London Disability to review it with you. Countable income reduces the amount of the monthly benefit payable through SSI.
How deeming affects a child’s eligibility for SSD benefits
The concept of deeming is based on the legal duty of parents to provide for the support of their minor children. Deeming, as used by Social Security, takes into consideration the income and assets of parents with whom a child under 18 years of age resides to determine eligibility for SSD.
Deeming does not apply when the parent or parents residing with the child receive benefits through the SSI program. When a child lives with only one parent and a stepparent, the resources and income of the stepparent may be taken into consideration for deeming. Deeming will not apply after a child reaches 18 years of age or does not live with parents or a parent and a stepparent.
The full amount of a parent’s income is not deemed to the child applying for benefits. Only countable income sources apply, and allocations are made that reduce the deemed income. For example, an allocation is made to reduce a parent’s countable income for children living in the household and not receiving or applying for SSI benefits.
Get assistance from a disability advocate
When you have questions or need assistance with an application for SSD benefits or to appeal an adverse decision regarding them, a Social Security disability advocate from London Disability provides answers and skillful representation. Contact them now for a free consultation.