Abromson & Carey, Attorneys at Law
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Applying for SSI benefits for children

Children in New Jersey under 18-years-old may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income. Although these benefits could be important, there are strict eligibility requirements.

Like adult applicants, children must show that they have a disability that meets the Social Security Administration's definition of that term. They must present evidence of a physical or mental condition that very seriously limits their activities and that it lasted or is expected to last at least one year or end in death.

New Jersey's Disability Determination Services decides whether the child meets these requirements. It reviews information submitted to the SSA and from the child's school, doctors and people familiar with the child. It may also ask for a medical examination paid for by the SSA. The child must have little income and resources. The SSA also takes the family's household income and resources into consideration.

It may take three to five months for a decision on the claim. If the child is eligible for SSI, the SSA will refer the child to New Jersey's child agencies for social, development, educational and health services. These services may also be available if the child is ineligible for SSI.

Children, however, are encouraged to work even if they are receiving SSI. The SSA does not count most of the child's earnings when calculating SSI. It also subtracts the cost of specified items and services that the child needs to work from earnings when determining these payments.

If the child is at least 15, a Plan to Achieve Self-Support may be established. It allows the child to set aside income to achieve a work goal. This income is not considered when SSI is calculated.

There are also SSA programs to assist qualifying children who receive these benefits and want to work. It has a Work Incentives Planning and Assistance and Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security programs.

Medicaid coverage may continue even if the child's earnings surpass the level to stop SSD benefits. However, earnings must remain under a certain amount.

These requirements may be complicated and are subject to change. An attorney can assist children and their families understand the requirements, and file an appeal if they are denied SSI.

Source: Social Security Administration, "Child disability starter kit-Fact sheet," Accessed April 18, 2017

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