In theory, Social Security Disability (SSD) is a straightforward program. SSD simply provides financial aid to those who cannot fully support themselves and their families due to an illness or debilitating ailment. In practice, however, applying for disability is rarely simple, especially when you’re applying on behalf of your child.
Approval and Allowance Calculation
If the Social Security Administration (SSA) disability board agrees that your child’s ailment satisfies the requirements for approval, it will then calculate the amount of aid to award. This calculation can be extremely confusing if you’re not familiar with Social Security laws and accounting.
However, the easiest way to understand the value is to understand the variables. When determining a child’s benefit allowance, the board uses a combination of the child’s wages (earned and unearned) and the caregivers’ combined income.
Child Benefit Standard Calculations
To calculate standard SSD benefits for a child, the SSA combines the gross monthly incomes (earned and unearned) of the household's caregivers. Once combined, $367 is deducted per non-disabled child living in the same household (two non-disabled children means a deduction of $734). An additional $85 is then deducted, and the total is divided in half.
The federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefit rate is $733 if the child lives with only one caregiver or $1,100 if the child lives with two caregivers. This benefit rate is subtracted from the new total. The resulting number is the caregivers’ deemed income, or the total monthly countable income of the disabled child.
If the child has no other income of his own, another $20 will be deducted from the calculated countable income. The final amount will then be subtracted from the current maximum monthly SSI cap. This cap can change each year based on annual cost of living adjustments. Florida’s 2016 cap is set at $733.
The resulting balance is the amount the child will receive each month from the SSA, if approved.
Child Benefits With Child Support Calculations
If the child's caregiver receives child support, the SSA treats it as unearned income and will include a two-thirds of it in the child’s countable income. Also, only child support that is actually received will be counted; if the non-custodial parent fails to pay support, it doesn't have an effect on the child’s SSI benefit.
Child Benefits Received From Disabled Parents' Calculations
Benefits awarded to children based on a parent’s disability are much easier to calculate. The child receives an allowance that is equal to 50 percent of the parent’s benefit. When the disabled parent has multiple children, the same 50 percent allowance will be divided equally among the children. For example, if a parent of one child receives $1,500, the child would receive $750. If a parent of three children receives $1,500, the children would each receive $250, which is the 50 percent dependent allowance divided by three.
We Can Help
For more information on applying for SSD or SSI on behalf of your child, or to verify that the severity of the condition warrants disability, contact us using the information on this page. For more insights into how to navigate the Social Security labyrinth, you can also visit our educational article gallery. We want to make sure that you have the tools and guidance you need to ensure financial support for your child's future.