Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a federal program that pays benefits to children and adults with disabilities who have limited income and resources. Learn more about how to apply and how to appeal a denial below.
Your child might qualify for SSI if:
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you do not go to a local office in person to apply. Instead, you can:
SSA has to find that your child has a physical and/or mental condition that either:
(a) is so severe that your child’s medical records & reports show that the condition is the same or almost the same as the requirements in the SSA’s regulations for that particular condition; or
(b) that the condition causes your child to have difficulty functioning like other children of the same age in a way that is marked in at least two or extreme in at least one of the following areas (called “domains”):
You will need to get or ask SSA to help you get:
During the application process, a State agency that SSA works with uses doctors called “consultative examiners” who write reports for SSA. SSA might send you an appointment with one of these doctors. If your child is scheduled to see a mental health doctor it can be done remotely by video. If your child is scheduled to see a physical doctor, they will be scheduled for an in-person appointment. If you choose not to have your child go due to COVID concerns it could affect your child’s application negatively. Click here to see the providers’ safety guidelines. Also, it is best to get reports from your child’s own doctors because that doctor is more familiar with your child’s condition. The report must be persuasive, that is, it must be consistent and supported by test results, treatment notes, and other documents in the file.
If the application is denied you will receive a written notice. If you want to appeal it, you must file a Request for Reconsideration within 60 days of the date of the denial notice, plus 5 days for mailing. You can file it online at ssa.gov or by telephone at 1-800-772-1213.
If your Request for Reconsideration is denied, and you want to appeal that denial, you must request a “hearing” within 60 days of the date of the denial notice, plus 5 days for mailing. All forms for appeals can be found online or you can get the proper form from your local Social Security office.
All forms for appeals can be found online or you can get the proper form from your local Social Security office.
Your child’s disability file is sent to the hearing office that handles the borough where you live. Eventually, you will receive a notice of hearing with a date and time to appear at the hearing where you will get the chance to explain to the judge why you feel that your child is disabled.
It may take a long time before your child’s hearing is scheduled. While you wait, your child should continue to go to treatment and should comply with the treatment.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, currently hearings are being held by telephone. You have the right to say you don’t want to have a hearing by phone and wait instead for an in-person hearing. It might be a long time before in-person hearings are held. Soon, SSA will start to have video hearings instead of telephone hearings.
You should make a copy for yourself and then send by fax or by mail the evidence to the hearing office. You must do this at least 5 days before the hearing. If you cannot get the medical or other evidence in time, then you must notify the judge at least 5 days before the hearing to explain that despite your efforts, you were unable to get the evidence. If you have been unable to get evidence yourself, you can ask the judge at your hearing to help you.
Yes. If your child is very young, then he/she may not have to say anything at the hearing. If the child is older, then the child will be expected to testify. If you are not sure, call the hearing office and ask.
You can appeal the decision within 60 days of the date of denial notice plus 5 days for mailing, of the Unfavorable or Partially Favorable Decision. You can do this online or by writing a letter to SSA’s Appeals Council. The address is in the notice of your child’s decision. You should explain why you think the judge was wrong. If you have a new report from your child’s doctor about the disability you discussed at the hearing (not a new disability), you can send it in with your appeal letter. Or, you can re-apply for SSI at your local office. Please note: generally, you cannot do both. In most cases, you must either appeal or re-apply.
Since the Appeals Council provides the final decision by SSA, if you lose and want to appeal further, you will have to file a case in federal court within 60 days of the date of denial notice plus 5 days for mailing.
But you can also reapply for benefits using one the ways listed above.
Unlike after a hearing you don’t have to choose between appealing and reapplying.
No. Periodically, SSA conducts “continuing disability reviews” to see if the child is still disabled or if his/her condition improved. Also, when your child turns 18, Social Security will evaluate whether your child is still disabled, according to the adult disability rules.
The information in this document has been prepared by The Legal Aid Society for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. You should not act upon any information without retaining professional legal counsel.
Last Updated: 9 February 2021
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