Disabled boy trying to walk on grass

If children are limited in their ability to function because of a disability, they may qualify for Social Security Income (SSI) disability benefits if they meet certain age, financial, medical, and other Social Security Administration (SSA) requirements. 

The following are some of the requirements that are in place for children to receive SSI benefits.


A child who qualifies for disability benefits will need to be under 18 years old. However, one exception to this requirement is if the child is still a full-time student either in junior high or high school, in which cases the child will be eligible until he or she reaches the age of 22.

Normally after the child reaches 18, he or she may qualify for disability based on requirements for adults.


Recipients of SSI must also make an income that falls below a certain level. In the case of a child with a disability, the SSA will consider parents’ income if the child lives with them. If a child has a stepparent, the stepparent’s income will also factor into the SSA’s decision. 

For children who don’t live at home, the income of the parent providing for and visiting the child will be considered, along with other financial resources.

Medical Condition

Parents can show that their child is disabled either by proving that the condition meets the requirements in place based on a specific disability listing, or by showing that the disability “functionally equals” the listing due to the limitations resulting from the disability.

Parents can determine if their child meets a listing by checking the SSA’s blue book, which contains a list of impairments that qualify for disability benefits. If the child either meets one of the listings or the parent can prove that the disability is equal to one of the listings based on the nature of the disability and its limitations, he or she may meet the medical requirement.

Length of the Disability

In addition to age, financial, and medical qualifications, a disability must have lasted for a minimum of 12 months or will need to be expected to last for that duration. Some exceptions to this requirement may include infants born with low birth weights, which can often qualify for presumptive disability before reaching the age of six months.

If a child meets these requirements, he or she may qualify for SSI benefits. The SSA website has more information in a starter kit to help with the application process.