There is more than one way that a child can qualify for Social Security disability benefits. To understand this, it's important to keep in mind that the term Social Security disability actually refers to two different programs.
The first program is SSDI, which stands for Social Security disability insurance. Children under age 18 can receive benefits under this program based on what one or both parents earned in the Social Security system before they retired, became disabled or died.
Nationally, about 4.4 million children receive a total of about $2.5 billion under this program each month.
The goal of the program is pretty straightforward. It is supposed to provide financial stability for families when a parent dies or becomes disabled.
The SSDI program also covers adults with a disability that began before they turned 22. The Social Security Administration considers this to be a "child's" benefit because it based on a parent's earnings record in the Social Security system.
There is also another program, however, for disabled children whose parents lack the income to be eligible for SSDI. That other program is called Supplemental Security Income or SSI. To be eligible for SSI based on blindness or disability, a child under age 18 must have an impairment or combination of impairments that satisfy the applicable definition of disability. In this case, that definition is the one for children.
But that is not all. Eligibility for SSI also depends on the income and financial resources of the parents and the child. In order to be eligible for SSI, that income and resources cannot exceed certain limits.
Source: "Benefits For Children," SSA.gov
Our firm handles situations similar to those discussed in this post. To learn more about our practice, please visit our page on Michigan SSI disability claims.