If you’re wondering how to apply for child SSI, there are a few key things to know before you get started.
First, SSI, or Supplemental Security Income, is a federal program that helps support people who are disabled (at any age) or 65 or older. So, while there is no special form of SSI for children, some children do qualify for SSI.
Second, the process can take a long time, and many people get rejected at first. Stay with it, and don’t lose hope! Here’s how to apply.
Step 1: Fill out the Disability Report
(If you need help applying for yourself or if you are helping an adult child, start with How someone can help you with your SSI application).
Here are the ways you can complete the disability report:
- Online (child report) (adult report)
- On paper (child report) (adult report)
- In person at a local field office. (If you live outside of the US, find services around the world)
- Over the phone. You can call the SSA (Social Security Administration) between 8:00am and 7:00pm Monday-Friday at 1-800-772-1213. If you prefer to apply in a language other than English, you have a legal right to use SSI’s free interpreter services. Call the number and press 7 for Spanish or stay silent during the English instructions and wait for a person to answer.
This report will take you about an hour to fill out. You will need to sign a form that gives your child’s doctor permission to share information with SSI. If your child is over 12, they may also need to sign their own release in some cases.
On the application, it is important that you list the health care providers who can help establish that the person is disabled. The SSA will contact the clinicians directly, and get the medical records.
Step 2: Interview with an SSI representative
After you submit your report, an SSI representative will call you within 3-5 business days. You can also request an in-person appointment. During this meeting, you will:
- Review the disability report
- Review your family’s income and resources
- Discuss if you’d like to become your child’s representative payee, which means you will be able to manage their SSI payments for them.
When the interview is done, you will get a copy of the filled-out application for your signature. Be sure to read everything carefully before you sign, and keep a copy for your own records. Sometimes the SSA has follow-up questions after you complete the application. They may ask you to fill out a Functional Assessment form or even attend an in-person interview with an SSA-appointed psychologist. This is a standard part of the review process, when the SSA believes that it needs more information in order to make the disability determination.
Tips for getting ready for your SSI interview:
Use this Child Disability Interview Checklist or Adult Disability Interview Checklist to pull together all the materials and information you will need. (SSI will need to see the original documents, but they will make copies and return the originals to you.) Print and fill out the Medical and School Worksheet (for a child) or Medical and Job Worksheet (for an adult).
What happens once I’ve finished applying for child SSI?
Once your interview is done and SSI has copies of all of your paperwork, you can expect a decision in about 3-5 months.
If your application is approved, the benefits will begin at the time when you applied.
Applying for child SSI can feel overwhelming and complicated, but if your child qualifies, it can provide great support to your family.
- SSI benefits: does my child qualify?
- Financial support for parents of a child with disabilities
- How to Apply – From Social Security website
- Understanding SSI if you are disabled or blind
This content was reviewed for accuracy by Karen B. Mariscal, Esq. www.Kmariscallaw.com