How a Newborn Can Qualify for Social Security Benefits

How a Newborn Can Qualify for Social Security Benefits

By Deanna Power

Navigating the Social Security Administration can be challenging when seeking support for special needs infants. Deanna Power shares information to help make the process easier for families. 

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Having a baby is one of the most exciting moments of your life. When life throws you a curveball and you realize your bundle of joy has special needs, you may not be sure what to do next. Fortunately, there may be help available for you. The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers monthly disability benefits for people of all ages. Newborns are often eligible for assistance that can be used on hospital bills, childcare, and any other daily living needs for your new family.

How Does a Child Medically Qualify?

The SSA maintains its own manual of medical eligibility, known colloquially as the Blue Book. The Blue Book lists hundreds of disabilities that can qualify for benefits, plus the test results or symptoms needed to qualify. Your child’s medical criteria needed for approval will depend on her disability.

For example, anyone with Trisomy 21 or Translocation Down syndrome will automatically qualify for Social Security disability benefits. All you’ll need is a karyotype analysis proving your child’s diagnosis. The same is true for children with Turner syndrome or Trisomy 13.

If your child was premature, he or she could qualify with a low birth weight, but your child’s weight will be dependent on when he or she was born. For example, any child born at 32 weeks will need to weigh less than 2 pounds, 12 ounces to qualify. A baby born at full term can qualify if she weighs less than 4 pounds, 6 ounces.

The entire Blue Book can be found online, so you can review it with your pediatrician to determine whether your child will qualify.

How Does a Child Technically Qualify?

Unfortunately, medical qualification is only the first hurdle your newborn needs to overcome to be approved for disability benefits. The SSA offers Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for children, but SSI benefits come with strict household income limits. If you or your spouse is earning a decent living, your child will not qualify for SSI benefits.

Your specific income limit will vary depending on how large your family is. If you’re married and if you have other children, your monthly income limit rises. For example, a single parent could only earn $38,000 per year (before taxes) while qualifying. A two-parent household of five could earn over $50,000 and still have a child eligible for SSI.

The SSA’s chart on income limits based on family size can be viewed online as well, so you can get a good idea as to whether your income is within the SSA’s thresholds.

Starting Your Application

All SSI applications need to be completed in person at your closest Social Security office. You can call the SSA toll free at 1-800-772-1213 to make an appointment to apply in person. Most children, particularly newborns, are medically eligible for benefits. A household income limit is the top reason why children with disabilities are denied Social Security benefits. The good news is that if you are denied due to your income, you can always reapply once your child turns 18. At that point, your income will no longer count towards your child’s eligibility, even if your children still live at home.

Helpful Links
Childhood Blue Book Listings

Qualifying For SSI

Family SSI Income Limits

SSA Offices By State

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