How to Qualify

How a Child Can Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits with Autism

1 in 54 children are affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD or autism). Having a child with ASD can require parents to make big changes in their lifestyles in order to make sure their child receives the care they need to thrive. Very often one parent may become the child’s primary caregiver and have to give up their paying job to focus on organizing the child’s many appointments and activities. This can put the household into financial jeopardy. However Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments from the Social Security Administration can help defray some of extra costs for parents.

Qualifying for SSI Benefits

There are two components to a child qualifying for SSI benefits because of autism. First, the child needs to meet certain conditions in order to be eligible for benefits. The child’s medical records must show the child meets the requirements in the listing for Autism in the Social Security Administration’s Blue Book. The Blue Book requires that children with autism must have all three of these deficits:

  • deficits in social interaction
  • deficits in verbal and nonverbal communication, and
  • significantly restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities

If the child meets these conditions then the child must also have a severe limitation in one of the following areas or a marked limitation in two of these areas:

  • interacting with others
  • focusing on activities 
  • understanding, remembering, or using information
  • adapting or managing oneself

Parents must provide medical proof the child meets these requirements like statements from doctors and therapists, medical records and a diagnosis of autism, and statements from qualified professionals such as caseworkers, teachers, and therapists to verify the child’s limitations. If the child meets these qualifications and the parents can document, then the parents must meet some financial requirements.

Financial Requirements for SSI Benefits

The SSI benefit program was created the Social Security Administration to provide help for low income families. To make sure the help is going to people who are financially eligible. There is an income cap parents must meet in order for the child(ren) to qualify for benefits. The combined total income for all adults in the house cannot exceed the current income cap. However, the cap increases based on the number of adults in the household, as well as, the number of children that are ineligible for disability benefits.

To prove the combined total income of the household is under the cap, very working adult in the household must provide a copy of their current W-2 or a Federal tax return displaying their income.

Filing a Claim

Parents must file a claim on behalf of their child(ren) in person at their local SSA branch office. You should consult the starter kit to make sure you have all the information you need when applying for you child.Bring copies (DO NOT PROVIDE ORIGINALS) of the child’s medical records and the financial documentation for each working adult in the household to the appointment. A staff member will help parents file a claim for SSI benefits on behalf of their child.


SSA Blue Book: https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/ChildhoodListings.htm

Medical Proof: https://www.disabilitybenefitscenter.org/glossary/acceptable-medical-source

Income Requirements: https://www.ssa.gov/ssi/text-child-ussi.htm

SSA Office Locations: https://www.disabilitybenefitscenter.org/state-social-security-disability

SSI Childhood Starter Kit: https://www.ssa.gov/disability/disability_starter_kits_child_eng.htm