What are the SSI disability qualifications for Adults and Children?

The SSI disability qualifications are practically identical to the qualifications for Social Security Disability. That is, they are identical in a medical sense.

Filing for SSI disability as an adult

To qualify for SSI disability, an adult claimant must be able to demonstrate, through evidence revealed in medical records (and hopefully statements from treating physicians), that he or she has at least one severe impairment. This impairment, or impairments, can be of a physical or mental nature, or both.

For social security evaluation purposes, a mental or physical impairment must be medically determinable, meaning that its existence must be documented in medical records. This, of course, rules out records obtained from nurses (such as nurse's notes) and records obtained from chiropractors, and even records from nurse practitioners and physician assistants unless they are counter-signed by a supervision physician.

Medical records, as far as the social security administration is concerned, are records obtained from acceptable treatment sources. Acceptable treatment sources might includes M.D. physicians, podiatrists, licensed optometrists (obviously, only for vision-related claims), and speech language pathologists.

Not only must an adult have a medically determinable "severe" impaiment, it must be severe enough that it makes it impossible for the individual to perform work activity at a substantial and gainful activity level (to see the current limit for SGA) for at least one full year. This means work activity involving the claimant's jobs done in the past 15 years, or other work for which the claimant might be thought capable of switching to based on age, skills, education, and remaining function (also known as residual functional capacity).

Qualifying for disability under SSI or the Social Security Disability program means being unable to work and earn a substantial and gainful income for at least 12 months. It does not mean that a person cannot file if they are working. And it does not mean that they cannot receive disability benefits if they are working. It does mean, though, that their earnings cannot exceed the SGA limits or they will no longer be considered disabled.

Filing for SSI disability as a child

To qualify for SSI disability, a child applicant must present records that show functional limitations that distinguish the child from non-disabled children in the areas of relating with others, interacting with others, acquiring information, using information, attending to tasks, completing taskings, as well as moving about, manipulating objects, and showing care for their own health and well-being.

Standard medical records are used to evaluate child SSI disability claims. However, SSI disability applications for children also involve the evaluation of school records (such as grades, intelligence testing, achievement testing, individualized education programs, and questionaires completed by teachers).

However, in both child and adult SSI disability cases, medical record documentation will also include the reports of any examinations or special testing that social security decides to send the claimant to. These can include physical exams, intelligence testing, memory testing, and psychiatric evaluations.

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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