Q: My newborn has serious health problems and a hospital nurse said I should call Social Security. Why? I do not receive Social Security.
A: Healthy or not, children younger than age 18 can receive Social Security benefits through a parents work record if that parent receives SSA retirement, disability or is insured for survivors benefits upon death. Of more immediate interest to you, Social Security also administers Supplemental Security Income (SSI), a separate national program for people with low income and resources. SSI benefits can be paid to people over age 65 as well as to disabled or blind people, including children having a severe disability.
Unlike Social Security, financial need is a main eligibility requirement for SSI. Income and resource levels must be met before medical issues are considered. Not all family income or resources count as being available to an applicant, such as your child, because portions are allocated to other family members.
Starting with SSI for January 2012, the maximum amount payable to an individual adult or child will be $698 dollars per month. The maximum to a couple if both people are eligible will be $1,048 per month. Maximum monthly 2011 amounts are $674 to an individual and $1,011 to an eligible couple. Other income, including Social Security benefits, reduces these amounts.
In both 2011 and 2012, to receive SSI individual resources cannot exceed $2,000. A couple may be able to get SSI if they have resources worth no more than $3,000. As with income, not all resources are included with a major exception being the home a person lives in.
Eligibility for SSI can help someone obtain other assistance. For example, the SSI program does not directly provide medical insurance but people receiving it are usually eligible for medical assistance. In ND and MN, medical assistance eligibility is established by the county social services.
Basic SSI information is at www.socialsecurity.gov . While that is a great place to start, speaking to a SSA representative about your specific situation is useful, especially since not all family income or resources count. Call the national SSA number is 1-800-772-1213, between7:00am – 7:00pm local time, or your local office.