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Benefits for disabled children

Eligibility for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits is based in part on work credits. To be eligible for SSD benefits, a person must have worked enough, and recently enough.

The Social Security Administration has a somewhat complicated method for calculating work credits and eligibility, based on dollar amounts earned and the applicant's age. Generally an individual can earn up to four work credits a year. To be eligible for SSD, the individual must not only meet the criteria for disability, but must also have earned a total of 40 credits, with 20 of those credits earned in the past 10 years before becoming disabled.

Under this system, a lot of adults can slip through the cracks, especially if they have experienced long stretches where they did not work. The system also excludes disabled children and young adults who became disabled before they were able to accumulate sufficient work credits. For these Americans, the Supplemental Security Income program may be able to help.

SSI helps certain categories of people with low income and limited resources. Among them are children who have a medical condition or combination of conditions that meet the Social Security Administration's standards of disability, and whose household income and resources fall within specified limits. Other categories include eligible people over age 65, and qualifying adults who are blind or otherwise disabled.

For children, the benefits do not necessarily end at age 18, but the eligibility requirements may change. Once the individual turns 18, the SSA no longer calculates all household income and resources when determining whether the disabled individual meets the economic requirements. Therefore, parents whose income put their child over the limits may be able to apply again on behalf of the child once he or she reaches age 18.

Navigating one's way through the Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income rules and bureaucracy can be frustrating and confusing. An experienced attorney can guide applicants and their families through the process and represent them when they need help.

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