Social Security’s Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program provides cash payments to children with disabilities whose families have limited income and resources. A child must meet the following medical requirements to be considered disabled under Social Security rules:
The child must have a medical condition, or a combination of conditions, that results in “marked and severe functional limitations.” This means that the conditions must seriously limit the child’s activities.
We also help children through our Compassionate Allowances program. Compassionate Allowances are a way to quickly identify conditions that, by definition, meet Social Security’s standard for disability benefits. Compassionate Allowances help us reduce waiting time to reach a disability determination for children with the most serious disabilities. Thousands of children receive benefits because they have a condition on this list, but children with conditions not on this list can still qualify for SSI.
A child must meet additional eligibility requirements for low income and limited resources to qualify for SSI. To qualify, a child:
Earnings amounts usually change every year. Some older teenagers may have part-time jobs or be involved in work programs, which Social Security will count for financial eligibility.
In addition, if an unmarried child under age 18 is living at home, Social Security may consider some of the parents’ income as the child’s income. We make allowances for the parents and their other children living in the home when we consider the parents’ income.
Social Security offices are currently open only for in-person appointments for limited, critical situations, depending upon local office conditions.However, you can continue to apply for a replacement Social Security card online and by mail. Before requesting a replacement card, please remember that you might not need the physical card. Most of the time, simply knowing your Social Security number is enough.
If you have a critical situation that requires you to have a physical card and you cannot apply by mail or online, you should call your local Social Security office.
If you don’t need any changes to your Social Security Number record (such as a name or date of birth change), applying for a replacement card online is your most convenient option. You don’t need to mail proof or visit an office.
You can use our online application if you are an adult, have a state-issued drivers’ license or non-driver identification card, and live in the District of Columbia or one of the 45 states that verifies state-issued documents for us. All you need to do is create a my Social Security account to access and complete the online application.
If you live in one of the five states that do not participate — Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, and West Virginia — know that we are working hard to bring this service to you as soon as possible.
Applying by mail
We require proof of your identity with your replacement card application, usually a state-issued drivers’ license or non-driver identification card, or U.S. passport. We call these documents “primary” identity proofs. We understand mailing primary identity proofs with your replacement card application can be challenging. To help, we are temporarily expanding our policy to accept alternative identity documents — or what we call “secondary proofs” — when you cannot mail primary proof.
Acceptable secondary proofs include, but are not limited to:
These proofs must be current (not expired), show your name and identifying information (such as your date of birth or age), and be an original or a certified copy.
If you need to change your name, when you mail your replacement card application, you will need to submit proof of identity plus proof of the name change. The proof of identity can be primary or secondary proof. Proof of the name change could be a marriage certificate, divorce decree, certificate of naturalization showing the new name, or a court order approving the name change.
You may be able to submit one document to serve as proof of your name change and identity. For example, you may submit a marriage certificate as proof of name change and identity if the certificate shows the marriage occurred within the prior two years and:
We will return any documents you send us.
Scammers are using the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to file fraudulent unemployment claims, often using someone else’s identity. Scammers may even use the identity of someone who is receiving or applying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.
SSI applicants and recipients who begin receiving — or appear to begin receiving — State Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits could appear to be ineligible for SSI benefits. They could even appear to be overpaid because of an unemployment claim filed in their name.
These UI fraud schemes are widespread and affect most states. The United States Secret Service is investigating more than 500 claims in over 40 states related to unemployment fraud.
At Social Security, we’re taking steps to verify whether SSI applicants and recipients are victims of UI fraud. We will not reduce or terminate your payments due to a fraudulent unemployment claim filed on our behalf. If you suspect you may be a victim of fraud, report it to your state fraud hotline. You may also report suspicions of fraud to your local unemployment office.
Remember that scammers always look for a chance to exploit your fears. Don’t fall for their tactics — and guard your personal information. Please share this information with your friends and family — and let’s help each other stay vigilant.
Question: What is the five-month waiting period for Social Security disability benefits?
Answer: The law states Social Security disability benefits can be paid only after you have been disabled continuously throughout a period of five full calendar months. Social Security disability benefits begin with the sixth full month after the date your disability began. You are not able to receive benefits for any month during the waiting period.
Question: How do I know if I have worked long enough to qualify for Social Security disability benefits?
Answer: You must have worked long enough — and recently enough — under Social Security to qualify for disability benefits. Social Security work credits are based on your total yearly wages or self-employment income. You can earn up to four credits each year. The amount needed for a credit changes from year to year. The number of work credits you need to qualify for disability benefits depends on your age when you become disabled. Generally, you need 40 credits, 20 of which you earned in the last 10 years, ending with the year you become disabled. However, younger workers may qualify with fewer credits.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
Question: My 15-year-old sister has been blind since birth. I think she should apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), but my parents think because she's a minor, they're responsible for her and she won't qualify. Who is right?
Answer: To qualify for SSI, an individual must meet certain income and resource limits. Since your sister is a minor, some of your parents' income and resources will determine whether your sister is eligible for SSI. Once your sister turns 18, their income and resources won’t be considered when deciding her eligibility and payment amount. Tell your parents they can check at any Social Security office to see if your sister qualifies.
Question: What’s the best way to find out if I might be eligible for SSI?
Answer: Our online Benefit Eligibility Screening Tool (BEST) will help you find out if you could get benefits that Social Security administers. Based on your answers to questions, this tool will list benefits for which you might be eligible and tell you more information about how to qualify and apply.