How can children with disabilities obtain benefits?

Dealing with a child's disability can be a very confusing and scary time for parents in Pennsylvania. As individuals try to assess exactly how an injury, illness or mental condition will impact their families, they should know that there may be resources, such as Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability, available to children living with a disability.

A recent report indicates that the need for disability benefits among children may only grow with time. According to researchers based in Pittsburgh, the occurrence of disabilities among children increased 16 percent over the course of a decade. When kids were surveyed in 2009 and 2010, about 6 million of them had a disability

Observers note that this is not necessarily something to be alarmed about. Better, more reliable diagnoses may account for the marked increase in children with disabilities over a relatively short time period. Namely, neurodevelopmental disabilities account for a very large share of the increase. Being better able to understand and diagnose mental conditions that fall on the autism spectrum, for example, has contributed to this shift.

Unlike adults who have paid into the Social Security system, many children have not. This limits a child's ability to obtain SSD benefits, but it isn't necessarily impossible. Under some circumstances, such as if a parent also qualifies for disability, the SSD program can make considerations for children.

Beyond SSDI, children may also be eligible for Supplemental Security Income. Typically, this program is intended for individuals with a relatively low income, but can be used to help provide support to children living with a disability.

Source: Disability Scoop, "In Decade’s Time, Childhood Disabilities Rise 16 Percent," Shaun Heasley, May 6, 2013

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