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Defining "disability" when a California child is applying for SSI

By now, many of our Californian readers probably know the definition of "disability" used by the Social Security Administration to determine whether a person qualifies to receive Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. And, many Los Angeles residents probably know that, for children, SSD benefits are not an option. But, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) might be. Nonetheless, what many people may not know is that the definition of "disability" when it comes to children applying for SSI benefits is slightly different than the definition applied to SSD applicants.

According to the Social Security Administration, the main difference in the definitions is the aspect that deals with a person's functionality. For SSD benefits, the person's disability must be so significant that the person will not be able to work for 12 months or longer -- or that the condition will likely lead to the person's death. For a child applying for SSI benefits, the child's disability -- be it physical, mental or a combination of both -- must result in "marked and severe functional limitations."

The timeframe for the duration of the disability is similar, but it is worded slightly different. Instead of being phrased in terms of a person's inability to work for a certain amount of time, the SSI definition of disability simply states that the condition itself has been present or is expected to be present for at least 12 months. In addition, the disability may lead to the child's death is also a qualifying piece of criteria if present, similar to SSD benefits.

Of course, the child cannot be employed and earning an income, if the child is applying for SSI benefits. But, as many of our readers will likely recall, SSI benefits are generally intended for children who are suffering from some of the most debilitating disabilities, such as cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy. So, in most cases, the child will not be working anyways.

Source: SSA.gov, "Social Security's Definition of Disability for Children Applying for SSI," accessed on Nov. 21, 2015

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