The families of disabled children are often able to qualify for federal benefits though the Supplemental Security Income program.
SSI is available to children under the age of 18 who have a condition or illness that meets the Social Security Administration's definition of a disability. The SSA defines "disabled" for children as having a physical or mental condition that results in "marked and severe functional limitations."
The child's income and resources must also be within eligibility limits as SSI is a needs-based program. To qualify for SSI, the child must not be working and earning more than a certain amount per month.
Finally, the disability must also be expected to last at least 12 months or result in the child's death.
In many cases, it is hard for a child to qualify for SSI, which is where the help of an experienced Social Security Disability lawyer comes in. But some conditions automatically qualify a child for benefits, including HIV, blindness or deafness, cerebral palsy and Down syndrome.
Children who qualify for SSI may keep receiving the benefits for their entire lives so long as they are still disabled.
However, the SSA has recently joined forces with the U.S. Departments of Labor, Education and Health and Human Services to help wean children off of SSI by attempting to improve their employment and education opportunities.
The initiative is known as Promoting Readiness of Minors in Supplemental Security Income, or PROMISE, and its goal is to provide children who receive SSI with locally-coordinated services and supports.
Recently, the initiative resulted in more than $200 million being distributed to nearly a dozen states that had developed PROMISE projects. California was one of the states to receive funding under the PROMISE initiative.
Source: Disability Scoop, "States Get Millions To Wean Kids Off SSI," Shaun Heasley, Oct. 8, 2013