How a Child with Autism Can Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits
We take a look at the requirements for the SSI benefits for children with autism and other key information. From financial requirements to starting a claim, find out what you need to know.
A diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is not just emotionally difficult for parents; it also means they may have to make big lifestyle changes. There are many therapies and treatments to assist children with autism, but in most cases, a parent or caretaker will need to tend to the child full-time.
This need for full-time care can lead to financial turmoil in a family, especially one that relies on a two-person income to support themselves. With the loss of one income and the expense of treatments and therapies, parents are often under enormous pressure.
Many parents don’t realize that the Social Security Administration (SSA) program offers supplemental security income (SSI) to support children with disabilities. If your family qualifies, autistic child SSI benefits can be a significant relief from financial pressure.
What is the SSA Benefits Program?
The SSA offers monthly disability benefits to parents of children with disabilities. While most children with autism have no difficulty qualifying for the SSI benefits, there are some strict criteria, which we will cover in more detail below.
How To Qualify for the SSI Benefits Program
Is autism a disability under social security? Yes, autism is considered a disability that is eligible for benefits, providing the correct requirements are met. The SSA’s Blue Book covers what conditions children with ASD must have to qualify for benefits.
To be eligible for SSI benefits, children with autism must have:
- Deficits in social interaction
- Deficits in verbal and nonverbal communication
- Significantly restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities.
Parents must provide medical documentation to prove that their child has all three of the above deficits.
The child must also have an extreme limitation in one of these areas, or a severe limitation in two of these areas:
- Understanding, remembering, or using information (ability to learn, remember, and use information, follow instructions, solve problems, and use reason to make decisions)
- Interacting with others (ability to engage in interactive play, cooperate with others, maintain friendships, handle conflicts, initiate or sustain conversation, and understand social cues)
- Focusing on activities (ability to engage in activities at a consistent pace, avoid distractions, and complete tasks in a timely manner)
- Adapting or managing oneself (ability to regulate emotions, control behavior, protect oneself from harm, and maintain personal hygiene).
As mentioned above, parents must provide medical documentation to prove their child’s condition.
Financial Requirements To Qualify for Benefits
Financial limitations are the top reason why children with autism are denied SSI benefits. All parents with a child with autism that is under the age of 18 must meet the relevant financial requirements to access monthly benefits.
The SSA has an income cap that cannot be exceeded if a child is to qualify for SSI benefits. This cap increases with every adult that earns a wage, as well as the number of children in the household.
To prove that they qualify, parents must provide documentation such as a W-2 form or a federal tax return for each adult that earns a wage in the household.
How Much Does a Child with Autism Get From SSI?
So, how much is a disability check for autism?
There isn’t a simple answer to this question because every child and their parents will be treated as an individual case, and this will impact how much they receive each month.
Currently, the full benefit amount is $841 a month. However, the SSA will then apply a formula to work out how much to deduct from this once the parents’ income has been considered.
Starting a Claim
One of our biggest tips for parents is to get the claim for SSI benefits started as soon as possible. The process can take months, so it’s important to make an appointment at your local SSA office when you can.
To prepare for your appointment, read through the SSA’s Child Disability Starter Kit to find out the exact paperwork you need.
Get the Best Therapy and Treatment for Your Child
The Lighthouse Autism Center offers the highest-quality therapy in a tranquil, play-based environment. Our innovative ABA (applied behavior analysis) therapy model, Lighthouse Fusion, helps children make greater progress, faster.
Contact us to get the best for your child.