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My child gets SSI. Is SSDI the same thing and if not, can they get both benefits?

If your child is getting Supplemental Security Income or SSI it is because the Social Security Administration (SSA) has determined they are less than 18 years of age and they are disabled. This means the SSA has determined the child has a severe health condition, which is expected to last for at least 12 continuous months, and their condition is “marked and severe.”

Conditions and symptoms which the SSA considers automatically disabling for children are included in the Listing of Impairments or Blue Book Part B (there is an adult guide and a children’s guide). For more information about your child’s condition you can refer to this guide and identify the symptoms that the SSA considers disabling.

What if your child’s condition is not in the Listing of Impairments? This does not mean they cannot win SSI, but they would have to prove that their condition is as severe as a condition which is listed in the listing.

SSI recipients must also have VERY limited income and resources, and if they are living with their parents, their parent’s income and resource level will be considered when evaluating the child’s eligibility.

What is SSDI?

We recently had a disability recipient ask if her child could also receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) in addition to Supplemental Security Income. Social Security Disability Insurance is another disability program offered to disabled individuals, but it is specifically for workers who have worked and paid into the SSA system (earning “work credits) and who have become disabled with a severe mental or physical health condition which is expected to last for at least 12 continuous months and does not allow them to work. SSDI benefits may also be paid to the widow, widowers and children of insured and disabled workers.

Because a child has not worked and paid into the SSA system they will not be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance on their own work record. So to answer the question posted above, the child in question does not qualify for SSDI benefits.

What are SSDI auxiliary benefits?

Now, the question can get a bit more confusing. If the parent of the disabled child was receiving Social Security Disability Insurance, assuming they paid enough into the SSA system, the child may qualify for what the SSA terms “auxiliary benefits for children.” Your child can be able bodied or disabled to receive these benefits.

So to muddy the waters a bit more, if the child in question was a dependent of a worker who was currently receiving SSDI benefits and the child qualified for the auxiliary SSDI benefit they would not receive SSI because most likely the parent’s income from the SSDI payment would be too high for them to qualify for SSI benefits,
but the child would receive a SSDI auxiliary disability payment.

If your child is able-bodied this SSDI auxiliary benefit will stop when they are no longer a minor, but if your child was disabled prior to the age of 22 they can continue to receive SSDI auxiliary benefits based on the worker’s Social Security Earnings record past the age of 18 or the age when other non-disabled children will no longer be eligible for SSDI auxiliary benefits.

Keep in mind, if your disabled child was able to start performing substantial gainful activity or they got married, they would no longer be eligible for the SSDI “adult child” benefits.