How Children Can Qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Disabled children can be in an especially precarious circumstance when it comes to qualifying for SSI. In short, those under age 18 can collect SSI if they meet the SSA’s definition of disability and the household that they reside in has limited income and resources.

Additionally, the SSA states that:

“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 (in Oregon’s case, the Department of Human Services, which works closely with the SSA) makes the final determination and may request additional tests to confirm approval.

Ways Children Can Collect SSI

Disabled children under 18 who reside with a family that’s low-income may be able to collect SSI until age 18. If their disability persists into adulthood, they may be able to receive adult benefits.

If a child becomes disabled before age 22, they may be able to receive separate Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) at age 18 if either of their parents are disabled, retired, or deceased.

In any case, an adult who becomes disabled after age 22 must meet specific income and disability requirements to qualify for SSI. If the adult has some working history where he or she has paid into the Social Security system, he or she may be able to qualify for SSDI based on the number of work credits they’ve accrued.

How Long Does an SSI Children’s Decision Take?

The SSA will send a formal denial or approval letter usually 3-5 months following the initial application process. Benefits can be backdated to the initial application date, but certain rules apply.


SSI is an especially confusing process for children. Denials are much more common than acceptance, and it’s easy to see where the value of a trusted Social Security claims attorney comes in. Application approval may require a formal appeal (potentially up to three times) and certainly requires a professional to help guide you through the dispute process. Call Drew L. Johnson, P.C. today at (541) 434-6466 to schedule a free consultation.