What childhood disabilities qualify for SSI?

(Last Updated On: April 2, 2019)

Since you know that disabled children may be eligible for Social Security benefits, you’re probably wondering “What childhood disabilities qualify for SSI?” We’ve found an answer: and it’s both simpler and more complicated than you might think!

The Social Security Administration has special listings and criteria for many disabilities.

First, the Social Security Administration maintains a listing of impairments that qualify for benefits. It is easier to apply for benefits if you meet one of these listings, so it is important to understand these categories before you apply for disability for a child.

The Social Security listing of impairments includes several categories:

how to apply for disability for a child in a wheelchair

Low Birth Rate & Failure to Thrive 

This category includes infants (birth to age one) who have low birth weight and children (birth to age three) who demonstrate failure to thrive.

Musculoskeletal System

Disorders of the musculoskeletal system include:

  • Loss of function
  • Major dysfunction of joints
  • Disorders of the spine
  • Amputation
  • Fracture of major bones such as the femur, tibia, pelvis or upper extremities

These disabilities are evaluated based on a loss of function, which means that the child’s ability to move around for a long period of time has been impaired for any reason (including pain).

Special Senses and Speech

This category addresses the loss of specific senses, such as vision, hearing and speech. Listed conditions include the loss of visual acuity, loss of visual efficiency and hearing loss (with or without cochlear implant treatment).

Respiratory Disorders

Any breathing-related disorder that obstructs, restricts or interferes with diffusion across cell membranes is included in this category. The guidelines specifically list asthma, cystic fibrosis, and lung transplantation in this category.

Cardiovascular System

A cardiovascular impairment is “any disorder that affects the proper functioning of the heart or circulatory system.” This category specifically lists:

  • Chronic heart failure
  • Recurrent arrhythmias
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Heart transplants
  • Rheumatic heart disease

Digestive System

The digestive system helps break down food. The Social Security office lists these conditions in this category:

  • Chronic liver disease
  • Gastrointestinal hemmorhaging
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Short bowel syndrome (SBS)
  • Liver transplant
  • Need for feeding tube

Genitourinary Disorders

Any disorder that results in chronic kidney disease (CKD) is evaluated under this listing. These conditions include, but are not limited to:

  • Chronic glomerulonephritis
  • Hypertensive nephropathy
  • Diabetic nephropathy
  • Chronic obstructive uropathy
  • Hereditary nephropathies
  • Ectopic ureter
  • Exstrophic urinary bladder
  • Urethral valves
  • Eagle-Barrett Syndrome

Hematological Disorders

Non-cancerous blood disorders are evaluated under this listing. These include hemolytic anemias, disorders of thrombosis and hemostasis, and disorders of bone marrow failure.

Skin Disorders

Skin disorders are evaluated based on the extent of the lesions, frequency of flare-ups and how the condition (and treatment) affect you. Some of the specifically listed skin disorders include ichthyosis, bullous disease, dermatitis, genetic photosensitivity disorders and burns.

Endocrine Disorders

An endocrine disorder is one that causes a hormonal imbalance. These can wreak havoc on the body.

Some of the endocrine disorders listed by Social Security include:

  • Pituitary gland disorders
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Parathyroid disorders
  • Adrenal disorders
  • Diabetes
  • Pancreatic gland disorders
  • Hyperglycemia
  • Hypoglycemia

Congenital Disorders that Affect Multiple Body Systems

Non-mosaic Down syndrome and other catastrophic congenital disorders are rated under this system. In order to be rated, these disabilities must have a very serious interference with development or functioning.

Neurological Disorders

Neurological disorders cause disorganized motor function, bulbar and neuromuscular dysfunction, or communication impairments.

Some of the disabilities that Social Security lists under this category include:

  • Epilepsy
  • Benign brain tumors
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Spinal cord disorders
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Neurodegenerative disorders
  • Coma or persistent vegetative state

Mental Disorders

There are twelve categories of mental disorders for children. These include:

  • Neurocognitive disorders
  • Schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders
  • Depressive, bipolar and related disorders
  • Intellectual disorders
  • Anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders
  • Somatic symptom and related disorders
  • Personality and impulse-control disorders
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Neurodevelopmental disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Developmental disorders in infants and toddlers
  • Trauma- and stressor- related disorders

In order to qualify for disability benefits, your child must meet several requirements. Certain medical information must be present in the medical evidence. The condition must result in certain functional impairments and must last a certain length of time.

Cancer

All types of cancer, except those associated with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), are evaluated under this listing. Social Security evaluates the origin of the cancer, extent of involvement, response to therapy and effects of any therapy when making their decision about cancer claims.

Immune System Disorders

These disorders cause dysfunction in at least one part of the immune system. Autoimmune disorders and HIV infection are also evaluated under this listing.

However, your child may still be eligible even if they don’t match one of these listings.

If your child does not meet any of these listings, the Social Security Administration can still evaluate your child’s disability. They do this by determining which listing is functionally equal to your child’s condition.

Disabilities are evaluated based on how they affect your child’s ability to:

  • Acquire and use information
  • Attend to and complete tasks
  • Interact and relate to others
  • Move around and manipulate objects
  • Care for themselves
  • Enjoy health and physical well-being

Wondering how to apply for disability for a child? Click here!

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