How Much Can A Parent Make For A Child To Get SSI?
As the parent of a child who is blind or disabled, your income and resources come into play when the Social Security Administration determines whether your child qualifies for Supplemental Security Income benefits. SSI is a need-based program, which means that its primary purpose is to provide financial assistance to meet the housing and food needs of beneficiaries.
Social Security disability generally looks at the assets and income of the person applying for SSD benefits. However, when a child lives with parents or a parent and stepparent, their income and resources must be disclosed and considered in determining the eligibility of the child.
To help parents understand the process of their income affecting a child’s eligibility, we offer the following information about SSI benefits and the process known as “deeming.” Of course, representation by an experienced SSI disability advocate at MJ Ellis Disability Law ensures you of the most up-to-date advice and guidance in all matters of SSI benefits.
Eligibility requirements for children under the SSI program
SSI benefits for a child include a monthly federal payment. Most states supplement the federal benefit with a state-authorized payment each month and coverage of medical expenses through Medicaid.
A child, for purposes of the SSI program, cannot be married or head of a household. They also must be younger than 18 years of age or, if attending school regularly, be younger than 22 years of age to be eligible for benefits.
To qualify for SSI, a child must be disabled or blind. The same definition of “blind” applies to both adults and children, but Social Security applies a different definition of “disabled” to children than it does to applications submitted on behalf of adults. A child must meet the following requirements to be considered as disabled and eligible for SSI benefits:
- Must have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment or combination of impairments.
- The impairment must be expected to have lasted or be expected to last for at least 12 continuous months or be expected to cause the child’s death.
- The impairment must result in the child experiencing marked and severe functional limitations.
Because this definition only applies to disabled children and not adults, when a child receiving SSI reaches 18 years of age or, if regularly attending school, 22 years of age, Social Security reevaluates their disability by applying the definition of disability that it applies to adults for both the SSDI and SSI programs. The adult definition looks at a person’s ability to engage in substantial gainful activity rather than functional limitations. Another consequence of no longer being a child as defined by federal regulations is that the income of parents does not factor into determining eligibility for SSI.
How a parent’s income affects a child’s eligibility for SSI
Federal law limits the amount of income and the value of resources that a person may have available to use toward meeting their food and shelter needs. The value of resources cannot exceed $2,000 for an individual, including a child, and $3,000 for married couples where both spouses are eligible for benefits through the SSI program.
Social Security has two categories for income: Earned and unearned. Earned income, such as money paid to you for work done on behalf of an employer or income from self-employment, cannot exceed $1,767 a month for individuals and $2,607 for couples in 2022. Monthly unearned income, such as dividends or interest, cannot exceed $861 for individuals and $1,281 for couples.
When a child applying for SSI benefits lives with parents or a parent and stepparent, Social Security uses a process referred to as deeming. Deeming takes a portion of parental income and deems it available for the support of the child. However, some income of a parent may be excluded, so let’s look at an example to see how deeming works in the case of a single mom earning $2,395 a month in wages who has two children, one of whom is disabled, living with her.
Federal law allocates $420 of the parent’s income toward the support of the nondisabled child, which reduces the wages to $1,975. Assuming the parent has no other income, she may exclude $85 from her income to reduce it to $1,890, and she can further exclude one-half of the balance.
Of the $945 that remains, the law allows a parent an additional allocation for living expenses that equals the federal SSI benefit, which is $841. The result is that only $104 of the mother’s income is deemed available for support of her child for purposes of SSI eligibility.
Learn more about deeming and a parent’s income
Their knowledge of federal law and experience with the process of deeming a parent’s income when determining a child’s eligibility for SSI is what gives the disability advocates at MJ Ellis Disability Law an advantage. When you need help applying for SSD benefits for your child, schedule a free consultation with one of our SSD advocates.