Parents of disabled children often must go to great lengths to ensure their child’s medical needs are met. However, caring for a disabled child in Tennessee can be financially difficult. Parents love their children and may worry about how they will be able to afford the care their child needs. 

Fortunately, some disabled children under age 18 may qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). These monthly payments can help parents meet the many financial needs their disabled child has. 

What is required for a child to qualify for SSI? 

To qualify for SSI, first the child’s income and resources must be below a certain threshold. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will consider the child’s income and resources when calculating this amount as well as any income or resources of family members residing in the same home as the child. 

Second, to qualify for SSI, the child must be considered disabled. In 2020, to do so, the child cannot earn more than $1,260 monthly. In addition, the child’s medical condition must cause the child to suffer “marked and severe functional limitations,” meaning that the child’s activities must be very seriously limited. Finally, the child’s medical impairment must be disabling, or expected to be disabling, for at least one year or be fatal. 

How long does it take to qualify for SSI? 

Historically it has taken the state three to six months to issue a decision regarding a child’s application for SSI benefits. However, there are certain medical conditions for which SSI benefits will be made immediately available for six months while a final decision is being made. These conditions include, but are not limited to: 

  • Total blindness or deafness 
  • Down syndrome 
  • Cerebral palsy 
  • Muscular dystrophy 
  • HIV for children showing symptoms 
  • For children age four and up- severe intellectual disability 
  • Low birth weight (under two pounds 10 ounces) 
  • Failure to thrive for infants and children from birth to three-years-old 

Tennessee parents of disabled children may have many worries about their child’s future, but if their child qualifies for SSI benefits, at least some of these worries may be assuaged.