How do parents apply for SSI benefits for kids with special needs? Ram Meyyappan offers step-by-step directions, helpful tips, and valuable resources.

Today’s guest post comes from Ram Meyyappan. Ram is the senior editor and manager of Social Security Disability Help, a website that contains information on how to apply for disability with over 400 disabling conditions.

How to Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits for Kids with Special Needs

When a family has a child with special needs, it can take a significant financial toll. In extreme cases, a parent may find that they need to leave the workforce in order to care for the needs of the child. In other cases, professional caretakers may need to be hired. In either situation, financial situations can quickly spiral out of control. Fortunately, in some cases, Social Security disability benefits may be able to help.

The SSI Program

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSI) is a needs-based program for low-income individuals and families. In order to qualify for SSI benefits, you must meet the program’s financial criteria. If the child lives with one parent, then the combined household income and assets must be under $2,000 in order to qualify. If the child lives with 2 parents, then the combined income and assets must be under $3,000 in order to qualify. For more information on qualifying for SSI and what is counted towards the income and assets calculation please visit How to Qualify for SSI Benefits.

Meeting the SSA’s Disabling Criteria

In addition to meeting the technical requirements of the SSI program, your child must be determined to be disabled by the SSA in order to qualify for benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) defines a child as disabled if the child is under the age of 18 and:

  • Is not working at a job that the SSA considers to be substantial work; and
  • Has a physical or mental condition or combination of both that result in marked and severe functional limitations that serious limit his or her activities; and
  • The condition has lasted or is expected to last for 12 months or more or is expected to result in death.


In addition to meeting the above-mentioned criteria, the child will need to suffer from the condition that meets or equals a Social Security Blue Book listing. The Blue Book is a publication that lists all of the conditions that may qualify a child for Social Security Disability benefits along with the criteria that must be met to be approved under each condition. Some examples of conditions that are included in the Blue Book include:

  • ADHD
  • Autism
  • Down Syndrome
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Intellectual disability
  • Growth impairment
  • Hearing loss
  • Vision loss
  • Childhood cancers


For a complete list of all childhood conditions that qualify for disability, please visit the Blue Book of childhood listings.

Applying for SSI Benefits for Your Child

You can apply for benefits online or in person at your local Social Security office. When you apply in person, you should bring medical evidence supporting that your child meets the criteria of a Blue Book listing in addition to bringing proof of household financial information such as pay check stubs and bank statements. If you are applying online, you will be provided with a cover sheet that will allow you to fax this information in to the SSA. You will also be asked to attend a mandatory interview.

Questions and Comments Welcome

If you have comments about Ram’s advice, leave a comment below. You can also share SSI application success stories here. To ask Ram questions, email him at

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