SSI Eligibility for Children
Children under age 18 can get SSI if they meet Social Security's definition of disability for children and there are limited income and resources in the household. Social Security defines a disability as:
- The child must have a physical or mental condition(s) that very seriously limits his or her activities; and
- The condition(s) must have lasted, or be expected to last, at least 1 year or result in death. A state agency makes the disability decision. They review the information you give us. They will also ask for information from medical and school sources and other people familiar with the child’s condition(s).
If the state agency needs more information, they may arrange an examination or test for the child, which we will pay for.
How to Apply for SSI for a Child
Applying for SSI requires 2 steps. You will need to complete the online Child Disability Report AND, with the help of a Social Security representative, complete an Application for SSI.
TIP: Before completing the Child Disability Report, use our Child Disability Starter Kit to get answers to commonly asked questions about applying for SSI. The kit also includes a worksheet that will help you gather the information you need.
Fill out the online Child Disability Report
The report usually takes about an hour to complete and collects information about the child's disabling condition and how it affects their ability to function.
We will ask you to sign a form that gives the child's doctor(s) permission to give us information about their disability. We need this information so that we can make a decision on the child's claim. In some cases, if the child is over age 12, he or she must sign his or her own medical release.Start the Child Disability Report
If you previously started a Child Disability Report for this child but did not finish it, you can use your re-entry number to return to your online Child Disability Report.
After you submit a report, we will call you within 3-5 business days. Together, we will:
- Review the completed Child Disability Report.
- Discuss whether the income and resources of the household are within the allowed limits.
- Start the SSI application process.
Are there other ways to fill out the report?
If you do not want to fill out this report online, or if you need help completing the report, you can call us toll-free at 1-800-772-1213. If you are deaf or hard-of-hearing, call our toll-free TTY number, 1-800-325-0778. Representatives are available Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m.
How can I get ready for the disability interview?
- Review the disability starter kit. It includes a checklist and a worksheet to help you gather the information you need. Have this information with you at the time of the interview.
- You can fill out a Child Disability Report.
- For more information visit Benefits for People with Disabilities or call toll-free 1-800-772-1213 (for the deaf or hard of hearing, call TTY 1-800-325-0778).
How will I know what Social Security has decided?
We will send you a letter. It can take 3 to 5 months for us to make a decision on a child’s SSI disability claim. We may also contact you by phone to ask additional questions. Let us know if your address or telephone number changes so that we can get in touch with you.
You have the right to appeal if an application is denied. Generally, you have 60 days after you receive the notice of our decision to ask for any type of appeal. The letter we send you contains guidance on what level of appeal you should select. If you are unable to appeal a decision online, you can call our toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778), or contact your local Social Security office for other appeal options.
Visit Disability Benefit/Appeal a Decision or view our ‘Your Right to Question the Decision Made on Your Claim’ pamphlet to learn more about the appeals process. Appeal forms are available for download at www.ssa.gov/forms. You can also call our toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778), or contact your local Social Security office to request appeal forms be sent to you.
Will my personal information be kept safe?
Yes. Social Security protects the privacy of those we serve. As a federal agency, we are required by the Privacy Act of 1974 (5 U.S.C. 522a) to protect the information we get from you.
What if I am more comfortable speaking in a language other than English?
We provide free interpreter services to help you conduct your Social Security business, including helping you complete the SSI application and answering your questions. NOTE: the Child Disability Report is only available in English.
Call our toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213. If you need service in Spanish, press 7 and wait for a Spanish-speaking representative to help you. For all other languages, stay on the line and remain silent during our English voice automation prompts until a representative answers. The representative will contact an interpreter to help with your call. You may access the information on this page in Spanish.