SSI for Children: Determining Childhood Disability

This issue brief, developed by the SAMHSA SOAR TA Center, looks at how disability is determined by the Social Security Administration (SSA) for children whose parents or caregivers are applying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) on their behalf.

Although the SOAR approach is focused on adults with disabilities who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness, SOAR practitioners have asked for basic information to help them understand the disability determination process for children. For more information on this topic, see the SSA website

The medcial evaluation criteria used by SSA to determine disability for children differ markedly from those used by SSA for adults. For adults under age 65, the overarching question is, can they work? For children, SSA evaluates the child’s functional abilities as compared with the functional abilities of children of the same age who are not disabled. Because the medical eligibility determination is the least understood and where most applications for SSI fail, this issue brief focuses on understanding the medical criteria for receipt of SSI for children and documenting these criteria in the application.

Read the Issue Brief: SSI for Children: Determining Childhood Disability