Abuse is one of the most traumatic experiences any child can go through. If your child has experienced abuse, it’s entirely possible that he or she may have difficulty with school or interacting with other children. Your family will also have additional medical bills and expenses associated with the trauma that comes with childhood abuse. If your child needs additional assistance, the Social Security Administration (SSA) may be able to help.
Technically Qualifying For Disability
Children under age 18 are eligible for Supplemental Security Income, or SSI benefits. These are only available for families in financial need. This means that if you or your spouse earns a decent living, your child will not be eligible for disability benefits. The good news is that the larger your family, the higher your income limits will be. For example, a single parent cannot earn more than $38,000 per year and still qualify, but a two-parent family of five could earn more than $60,000.
Medically Qualifying For Disability
The SSA maintains its own medical guidebook of qualifying criteria for disability benefits, known colloquially as the Blue Book. There are many mental illnesses or mood disorders that may be eligible for Social Security benefits after a child experiences abuse, but some qualifying conditions include:
- Eating disorders
- Trauma/stress disorders
For example, a child with a diagnosed trauma disorder like PTSD could be eligible for benefits if all of the following criteria are met
- The child was exposed to a near-death experience, serious injury, or violence
- The child is subsequently re-experiencing the traumatic event via intrusive memories, dreams, or flashbacks
- The child is avoiding external reminders of the abuse
- The child experiences a disturbance in mood, such as withdrawn behavior
- The child experiences increases in arousal and “reactivity,” such as becoming easy to startle or severe sleep disturbance
The entire Blue Book is available online, so you can review it with your child to determine if she or she is eligible. It’s important to note that the SSA will need as much medical evidence as possible to approve a claim, so if you suspect child abuse happened but never took your child to a doctor, it’s imperative to have her evaluated as soon as possible.
Starting Your Child’s Application
All childhood SSI applications must be completed in person at your closest Social Security office. Your child does not need to be present during the application process. You can review the Childhood Disability Starter Kit to determine exactly what types of personal records you’ll need on hand to apply successfully. It should take no more than five months for the SSA to evaluate your claim. Once approved, you can spend your child’s SSI benefits on the following:
- Any medical bills for your child
- Therapy or counseling
- Stress-relieving activities like movies, toys, etc.
- Food & other household necessities
- Any general daily living needs
Once your child is approved for SSI benefits, you can focus on what’s important: recovery.
SSI Income Limits: https://www.ssa.gov/ssi/text-child-ussi.htm
Child Disability Starter Kit: https://www.ssa.gov/disability/disability_starter_kits_child_eng.htm