Understanding the Social Security Income Questionnaire

Parents of a child with special needs often apply for disability benefits.  There are specific guidelines the government uses in order to determine eligibility.  Many different questions are asked to determine whether an applicant is eligible for Social Security Income (SSI).

Some of the questions you might be asked to answer include:

  • Name of son or daughter
  • Child’s date of birth
  • What are the child’s primary disabilities?
  • What is the degree of disability (moderate, severe or profound, other)?
  • Are there any other additional disabilities?
  • What are the child’s capabilities and limitations (for example:  can he or she read, dress himself or herself, use public transportation, drive a car, etc.)?
  • Are there any special medical needs?
  • What type, if any, medication is taken?
  • What are the child’s current living arrangements?
  • What are the child’s and parent’s wishes concerning living arrangements after parent’s death?
  • What type of education or training program that child is enrolled in currently?
  • Does the child work?
  • Is work in a supported employment setting or sheltered workshop?
  • What are the earnings from work?
  • Any assets in child’s name?  Nature and value
  • Are there any accounts held by a custodian or in a Uniform Gift to Minors Act account? Value?
  • Name and address of custodian
  • Has anyone other than the parents provided for the child through a will, insurance, or any other source?  List name and amount
  • Has a legal guardianship for the child been established?  Name of guardian
  • Has property been established?
  • Has a trust been established for the child?  Type, by whom, name of trustee
  • Does the child currently receive SSI benefits, Social Security Disability Benefits, other disability benefits, or other regular unearned income?  Monthly payment amount
  • Is the child covered by Medicaid, Medicare, or any government program?
  • Current or projected monthly expenses for child:  Housing, transportation, personal expenses, repair/replacement expenses, other

Requirements for Supplemental Security Income

When dealing with the Social Security Administration, many terms can be overwhelming and confusing.  Supplemental Security Income (SSI) eligibility requirements for a child to receive benefits are based on age, income, and resources.  Anyone who is aged 65 or older, blind, or disabled qualify to apply for SSI.  Also, limited income and resource parameters must be met.  Some other requirements include:

  • U.S. citizen or national, or in one of certain categories of aliens
  • A resident of one of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, or the Northern Mariana Islands
  • Is not away from the country for a full calendar month or 30 consecutive days or more
  • Is not restricted to an institution such as a hospital or prison at the government’s expense
  • Applies for any other cash benefits or payments for which the applicant is eligible such as pensions or Social Security benefits
  • Gives the SSA permission to verify any financial information
  • Files an application
  • Meets other requirements

For any person that qualifies for SSI, they are automatically approved for Medicaid.  This can mean thousands of dollars in medical bills and services that will not have to be paid by the recipient.  

Clarification of Terms

Aged – Anyone who is aged is 65 or older.

Blindness – To qualify for SSI disability, blindness means that a person has a central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with the use of corrective lenses or the visual field is limited in the better eye, so that the widest diameter of the visual field subtends an angle no greater than 20 degrees.  Therefore, those suffering from visual impairment (not fully lacking sight) may still qualify for SSI benefits based on the basis of disability.

Disabled (child) – If a child has a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that results in marked and severe functional limitation and can be expected to result in death, they will be deemed disabled.  In lieu of death, the disability can last for a continuous period of not less than one year.  For those who are 18 or older, they must meet the requirements for disability for an adult.

Disabled (adult) – For those 18 years of age or older, to be considered disabled, a medically determinable physical or mental impairment, including a learning or emotional problem, must be present.  The impairment must result in the inability to do any substantial gainful activity and can result in death or will last for more than one year.

Limited Income – For the purpose of an SSI disability application, income includes:

  • Money earned from work
  • Money received from other sources such as unemployment, veteran’s benefits, worker’s compensation benefits, Social Security benefits, or money from friends and relatives
  • Free food or shelter
  • Limited Resources – Items owned such as cash, bank accounts, stock, bonds, land, vehicles, personal property, life insurance with cash value, and any other liquid assets that can be converted to cash and used for food and shelter

Resident – A resident is a person who lives in the United States or Northern Mariana Islands and continues to live in the geographic limits.  A resident can also be a child who lives with a parent who is serving in the military or a student who is part of an educational program abroad temporarily.

For those applicants who have a medical condition that is so serious that it clearly meets the disability standards, SSA is committed to approving those applications quickly.  The Compassionate Allowances (CAL) process is how the Social Security department quickly identifies diseases and other medical conditions based on minimal objective medical information.  These diseases and conditions invariably qualify under the Listing of Impairments and the CAL process is a way for Social Security to quickly obtain medical information so that the most obviously disabled people can receive SSI or SSDI quickly.

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