Social Security’s Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program provides cash payments to children with mental and/or physical disabilities whose families have little or no income and resources. A child must meet all of the following medical requirements to be considered
• The child must have a medical condition, or a combination of conditions, that result in
“marked and severe functional limitations.” This means that the condition(s) must very
seriously limit the child’s activities.
• The child’s condition(s) must have been disabling, or be expected to be disabling, for at
least 12 months; or the condition(s) must be expected to result in death.
Compassionate Allowances is a list of conditions that, by definition, meet Social Security’s
standard for disability benefits. Thousands of children receive benefits because they have a
condition on this list at www.ssa.gov/compassionateallowances/conditions.htm. Children with
a condition(s) not on this list can still qualify for SSI.
A child must also meet other eligibility requirements. Since Social Security only pays SSI to
disabled people with low income and limited resources, a child, who is not blind, must not be
working or earning more than $1,310 a month in 2021. A child who is blind must not be
working or earning more than $2,190. Some older teenagers may have part-time jobs or be
involved in work programs, which Social Security will count for financial eligibility.
In addition, if an unmarried child under age 18 is living at home, Social Security may consider
some of the parents’ income as the child’s income. We make allowances for the parents, and
for their other children living in the home, when we consider the parents’ income. You can
read more about children’s benefits in our publication, Benefits for Children with Disabilities.
Earnings amounts usually change every year.
If you are a parent or know a parent, guardian, caregiver, or representative of someone you
think may be eligible, visit our Disability Benefits- Apply for a Child (Under Age 18) web
page to learn more and apply. We encourage you to apply if you think your child may be