Social Security

Content Provided by: A Guide for Families and Friends of People with Developmental Disabilities; New York State Developmental Disabilities Planning Council

The Social Security Administration (SSA) processes and administers benefit programs for individuals who have disabilities that create barriers to employment. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) are two such programs run by SSA.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

These benefits are needs-based and may be available to individuals with disabilities who have very little income and resources. The funds are designed to supplement the income of people who are elderly, blind or disabled and lack sufficient resources to provide for their own needs.

The amount of the monthly benefit received from SSI depends on the person’s income and living arrangements — that is whether the person is living independently, with others, or is being supported by someone else, such as a parent, and any other income she/he may have. Receiving food stamps and government rent subsidies do not reduce benefits. 
Disability benefits continue until the age of 65. As long as the individual meets the criteria for coverage, there is no length of time before she/he stops receiving benefits. Social Security requires periodic submission of medical evidence of need.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

Social Security Disability Insurance provides benefits to disabled or blind individuals who have paid into the Social Security program through payroll taxes on their wages or to individuals who have been dependent on another person who has paid into the Social Security program. Typically a child who is disabled prior to age 22 collects Social Security benefits on a parent’s work record when the parent retires, becomes disabled or dies.

Applications for Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance can be filed at a local Social Security office. If a person is unable to go to the local office, someone else may file the application. The application may also be filed over the telephone or over the internet.

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Connect with other parents about Social Security

Visit the My Child Without Limits support community and talk to parents, caregivers, and professionals about how government benefits can help your child.


Social Security

Overview of Both Programs

Benefits for Children with Disabilities E-booklet

Social Security Disability Insurance

Supplemental Security Income