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SSI - Low Birth Weight

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is offered to disabled children who have a condition which is so serious it causes severe impairment and does not allow the child to develop and perform the same activities of another child of similar age.

SSI is only offered to children whose families have very limited income and resources. Even if a child is severely disabled if the parent’s income and resource level is not below the allowable limit for SSI the child will be denied SSI benefits.

Can my child get SSI for low birth weight?


Low birth weight generally gets a favorable disability determination, and the SSA will generally consider the claimant presumptively disabled, paying the family SSI disability benefits while the claimant’s family is waiting for the SSI application to be processed by the Social Security Administration.
A small premature baby in with an oxygen mask ...

To be considered presumptively disabled the baby's weight must be below certain weight thresholds established by the SSA. The weight varies based the age of the babies. Babies do not have to be born premature to qualify. For example, the following weights and corresponding ages generally qualify for SSI benefits (assuming the family meets the income and resource requirements):

Gestational Age Weight at Birth



Why does the SSA award SSI for low birth weight babies?


Although a young child may or may not have visible functional or mental limitations if they are born with a low birth weight,evidence suggests that children who were born with a low birth rate generally do have a higher rate of cognitive difficulties and may need extra intervention. For instance, low birth weight babies have a higher prevalence of IQs which are less than 70 when compared to other adults who were born at a normal birth weight.

Additionally, other studies indicate that low birth weight babies may also be more prone to develop other conditions such as blindness and hearing loss. They also may have delayed speech and language development combined with other learning disabilities (which may influence their success in school). Unfortunately, each of these disorders or difficulties is found in higher numbers in low birth weight babies, leading to lower level functioning in areas such as short term memory or language.

Whether or not your low birth weight child suffers from the most severe complications which can include multi-organ impairments, poor growth and development or severe mental illness, the cost to ensure your child has access to all the educational, social, medical and physical help they need can be high.

Although the child’s SSI benefit payment may not be too high, access to Medicaid can be critical for many families. Remember, if your child is approved for SSI, in most states, your child will be approved for Medicaid at the time of the SSI approval. Talk to the SSA if you have questions about your right to Medicaid.
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