Does my income affect my child’s ability to qualify for Social Security Benefits?

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How much income can parents have before their children no longer qualify for Supplemental Security Income benefits?

Disabled children can qualify for benefits under the Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) program, which is administered by the Social Security Administration, depending: (1) on the nature of their disabilities; (2) on how much income they have (if any); and (3) on their available resources. Children’s “available resources” include the income (and assets) of their parents and guardians. Therefore, many parents and guardians of disabled children wonder how much income they can have before their children no longer qualify for SSI benefits.

The Social Security Administration (“SSA”) defines a child as someone who is not married; is not head of a household; and is under age 18, or is under age 22 and regularly attending school. This discussion only applies to SSI benefits for disabled children, as the SSA defines the terms “disabled” and “children.”

1. Nature of disability. According to the definition established by the applicable laws and regulations, a child is “disabled” if the child “has a medically determinable physical or mental impairment, which results in marked and severe functional limitations, and which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.” In other words, a child is disabled for purposes of SSI benefits if the child has a very serious medical condition that will last (or has lasted) for at least one year. For example, a child who suffers from cystic fibrosis could qualify for SSI benefits. A child with a minor broken leg, but who did not otherwise have a serious medical condition, would probably not qualify.

2. Child’s income (if any). In terms of a child’s income, a child may not earn more than $1,000.00 per month from employment and still qualify to receive SSI benefits (in 2011; the limit on a child’s total monthly income changes every year). On the other hand, a child who is unemployed, or who is employed but earns less than $1,000.00 per month (in 2011), would meet the income limit.

3. Income and resources (i.e. assets) of parents or guardians. The determination of a child’s eligibility to receive SSI benefits also takes into account

Income, in this context, comes in two varieties: “earned income” and “unearned income.” Earned income consists of “wages from employment, net earnings from self-employment, certain royalties and honoraria, and sheltered workshop payments.” Unearned income consists of money received from other sources, “such as Social Security benefits, pensions, state disability payments, unemployment benefits, interest income, and cash from friends and relatives.” Some income is exempt and does not count toward the applicable limits. The following chart illustrates the income limits currently applicable in many (but not all) circumstances.

Number of Ineligible Children in Household

All Income is Earned

All Income is Unearned

One Parent in Household

Two Parents in Household

One Parent in Household

Two Parents in Household

0

$2,821

$3,495

$1,388

$1,725

1

$3,158

$3,832

$1,725

$2,062

2

$3,495

$4,169

$2,062

$2,399

3

$3,832

$4,506

$2,399

$2,736

4

$4,169

$4,843

$2,736

$3,073

5

$4,506

$5,180

$3,073

$3,410

6

$4,843

%5,517

$3,410

$3,747

By “resources,” the SSA essentially means property. For instance, resources include bank accounts, cash, life insurance, real estate, stocks, U.S. savings bonds, vehicles and other property belonging to a child’s parents or guardians that could be exchanged for cash and used for food or shelter. Some resources, such as a home, household goods and personal effects, and money in pension funds, are exempt and do not count toward the applicable limits. Currently, the applicable resource limit (for non-exempt resources) is $2,000 for a single parent or guardian, and $3,000.00 for a couple.

To summarize: A disabled child’s eligibility for SSI benefits depends upon the nature of the child’s disability, the amount of income that the child earns (if any), and the income and resources available to the child—including resources available through parents and guardians. Regarding the resources of parents and guardians, the limits vary from case to case depending on the circumstances. The income limits listed in the foregoing chart, and the resource limits discussed above, might or might not apply in a specific situation because of the many rules and regulations, as well as exemptions, that govern SSI eligibility for disabled children. If you are the parent or guardian of a disabled child and would like to learn more about SSI eligibility, then talk with a lawyer with experience dealing with Social Security issues.

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29 Responses to Does my income affect my child’s ability to qualify for Social Security Benefits?

  1. Mary Cullman says:

    Is there anyway to legally hide or move income so that my child can qualify for SSI? For instance, cam my husband and I set-up a special needs trust from our child so that she can get SSI. What if my mother, her grandmother, adopted her? Could she draw off of my mother’s SSI and receive her on benefits at the same time?

  2. angela says:

    I have four children, three with a disability. I am married and together before taxes we make 6200 a month. Do we qualify for any SSI benifits??? I can cut down my hours ( I work part time at two jobs) if that would mean more benefits. One has Austism, one with ADHD with Asperger Syndrom and one with CP.

  3. crystal burstein says:

    Can ssi cut my son off of his ssi due to him getting 178.00 in childsupport and me getting 300.00 in welfare? The lady at the Social Security Office Ssi is telling me it is based on his income.

  4. Trina L says:

    Hi There,

    I have three disabled children. One with bi-polar disease, one with autism and ine with mood disorder and ADHD. We make a gross of 5000 a month and a net of 3600. Does my income preclude my kids from getting SSI?

  5. Francisco says:

    I have two kids with developmental disability my self and my wife bring in the gross of 4000 a monthand a net of 3500 a month. Will this effect my cheldren ssi we are a family of six?

  6. gabrielle lavarda says:

    my daughter was just diagnosed with developmental disabilities does she qualify for social security?

  7. maria rosales says:

    I have a family of five, my husband an 18 yard old full time student, a 7 year old and an 11 year old disabled boy together me and my husband make 3112 a month does my child qualify for ssi?

  8. HEATHER says:

    a little over 2 years ago my son was granted ss disability for his autism from one of the doctors through social security right before he recieved his check i was told that he no longer qualified due to his dads income (now keep in mind we are a one income household ) a few months ago dad moved out he pays the rent $1200 per month and light,gas & electric as volunteer child support i recieve no cash from dad and i have 4 other minor children 2 of them are his (three total) i have proof he no longer lives there,does my son now again qualify for ssi

  9. Amanda Baker says:

    Hey my son and my daugther has a disabitily but they already draw ssi..I was worring can i draw ssi cause I be depression and I cant sleep or eat and I also have mood swing..i have not work seens 09 really and i just sit at home all the time feeling sad

  10. rakhee parasar says:

    we r 4 in family husband wife and one boy and one girl both r speech delay and son is having exema atopic dermatatis i want to know he will be eligible and how much is your income limit to qualify

  11. chala says:

    @rakhee-speech delay and eczema are not terms to receive SSI u will only b wasting time.
    @Amanda B.-If u apply for SSI due to depression u will most likely b on a waiting list upto 2 yrs and then denied.
    @Gabriella-Define developmental disabilities?

  12. Wilma J. says:

    My sons’ ssdi was recently cut off due to my husband and I bringing home $3516.00 prior to taxes monthly. We are a family of four and according to what I’ve found the total allowed monthly income is $3832.00.

  13. Betsy Vilian says:

    Message: My son was diagnosed with a seizure disorder and pdd. He’s been receiving ssdi for about two years. My husband (his step father) is listed on all of his ssdi paperwork as his father and now they are saying we bring home too much money monthly prior to taxes. we bring home $3516.00 and according to the charts since we have another child we are allowed to bring home $3832.00 monthly.

  14. Bob says:

    I am a disabled veteran receiving disability from the V.A. I have 3 children with autism. Because of my disability payments from the the VA and SSI my wife and I cannot live together while our children receive SSI. They said we make to much money. I am physically unable to work and my wife takes care of the kids. We currently live in Arizona. Is California just as strict with this siutaion? What can we do to live together again?

  15. Tisha says:

    i shared land with my brothers ,but the land is in my brother named since i share the land with them SSI saying it count income for me ,is denying my son disability claim because i shared it with them,i cant do anything with it.

  16. Heather says:

    Bob^^ I think that living together as a family is more important than getting SSI money. I would just not get the kids SSI and get their medical and special needs help through their Medicaid and public services. Getting more money is not as important as staying together as a family unit.

  17. Anthony Lambert says:

    I recently adopted my nephew that had been in foster care for many years. I wanted my family together! I make around $1000 every 2 weeks but have debt that is quite a lot more than what i make. My son does get a check called a subsidy for $980 a month. we are making it but do not have enough left to get some of the treatments he needs for his disability. What can I do? I was denied for Disability for him because they said I make too much money.

  18. Mary Dunn says:

    I have 8to children. 4 receive Ssi. I work making 1400.00 a month. Do they still qualify?

  19. Gloria says:

    I have 7 kids 2 of them receive SSI each 710 a month & now I’m working making 1,100.00 a month. Im the only parent in the household & these are the only incomes coming in the home. I wanted to know will my kids still be eligible for their SSI .

  20. troy kurtz says:

    I have a son with adhd and one with diabetes. my wife brings home approx 570 a week after taxes and i get 770 from va disability. will they apply. My son with adhd is not my wifes she is step mom

  21. madison says:

    I have a child who has mood disorder and ADHD will she quilifie for SSI?

  22. Monica says:

    Hello, I am a mother of 3 boys. My oldest lives with his grandparents and receives SSDI for his schizoeffective disorder and PTSD. My middle son (step son toy husband whom brings home the bacon) has been seeing the same doctors as my oldest for his problems. He has major anger issues and moments of “HIGH” and “Low”. I would like to apply for SSDI for him. My husband is the only one working bringing in about 3600.00 before taxes and I receive $132.00 in child support for my oldest son which I give to my parents because he lives there. Will my middle son qualify for SSDI? Thank you for your help in advance.

  23. Denise says:

    My grandson recieved ssi, will that be taken into account for my son paying child support?

  24. Whit says:

    I have two children through a guy who is suppose to pay 405 dollars a month in childsupport, he has not paid in almost two years and is around 8000 dollars behind, he is suppose to get disability this month and child support recovery told me that i had to see if my kids qualified for social security since their father is suppose to be getting disability, how mush am i suppose to get for my kids and will he have to pay his back childsupport out of pocket or will ssi pay for that to

  25. Sophia says:

    hello I am NOT able to get SSI for my son I am being denied because of my income I make 2600 dollars after taxes every two weeks

  26. Jesse says:

    I have legal custody of my grandson he gets SSI He just started living with his dad he makes $22.00 an hour. would my grandson check go to my son now.

  27. Rachel W. says:

    I am a single Mom with two children who currently get SSI for their severe disabilities. How much money am I allowed to earn and still get their maximum benefit? I am only able to work while they’re in school and am going to take another part-time job to make ends meet if it means they’re benefits will not be cut. I live in Maine if that matters.

  28. Jessica S says:

    my son was recently diagnosed with adhd and odd, i applied for medicaid for him because i am paying 200$ a month in his dr. expenses, but I was denyed for making 1500$ per month , what can i do to fight the system ?

  29. Jeanie says:

    Can I purchase a house with my mother, that she is paying the down payment and not affect my sons SSI who is autistic?

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