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Kobal Law

How to Determine If Your Child is Eligible for Disability Benefits in Florida?


Raising a child with disabilities can be challenging for any parents, but even more so for low-income families. When raising a child with special needs or disabilities becomes a financial undertaking, struggling families wonder whether their child is eligible for Social Security Disability benefits in Florida.

Before we go any further, it is critical to understand that children cannot be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). SSDI is a program designed only for disabled individuals with a qualifying work history.

Obviously, children do not have any work history. Rather, a child with a disability may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) in Florida.

However, it is rather difficult for children to qualify for SSI benefits. According to a 2012 Fact Sheet by the Social Security Administration (SSA), less than 1.5 million children across the U.S. receive SSI. That’s less than 2% of all children in the country.

When determining whether your child is eligible to receive disability benefits, the SSA will evaluate both the financial and medical needs of your child.

Evaluating the Child’s Financial Need for Disability Benefits

First of all, you need to understand whether your child still fits the SSA’s definition of a “child”:

  • under the age of 18
  • unmarried
  • living at home
  • or living away from home but still subject to parental control

The only exception to the definition is if an individual is still enrolled full-time in high school beyond age 18. In that case, the child may continue receiving disability benefits until they graduate or leave high school or until their 22nd birthday, whichever happens first.

To be eligible for SSI, the family’s income and assets cannot exceed the federally prescribed limit if the child is living in your household. The vast majority of children who receive SSI benefits live in families that have a total income below or near the federal poverty level.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, a total household income of $21,330 or less is the poverty guideline for a family of three.

If a child with disabilities lives with a step-parent, the income of the step-parent will also be considered by the SSA. If the child does not live in your household, only the income of the parent who is the primary caretaker and the parent who the child visits on weekends and holidays will be part of the equation.

Evaluating the Child’s Medical Need for Disability Benefits

Financial needs alone are not sufficient reasons for granting SSI benefits. The second requirement to be eligible for disability benefits as a child in Florida is the medical need.

According to the SSA, the child must have “marked and severe functional limitations” caused by a disease, injury, birth defect, or health complications that have lasted or are expected to last for a year or lead to death.

To qualify for disability benefits as a child, there must be valid medical documentation along with physician and therapist notes, if applicable, and non-medical questionnaires from a teacher or caregiver regarding the child’s behavior and condition.

Consult with a Tampa Social Security disability attorney to determine if your child has qualifying financial and medical needs to be eligible for disability benefits. Contact our team at Kobal Law to discuss your circumstances. Call at 813-873-2440 or visit our Contact Us page.


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