Social Security Benefits
There may be two Social Security benefit programs available to children with Selective Mutism, Childhood Disability Benefit and/or Supplemental Security Income. First, Childhood Disability Benefits (CDB) are based on a parent’s work record. The parent must be receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), or Social Security retirement benefits, or the parent is deceased but paid into Social Security through FICA taxes on wages. Second, if the child is determined to be disabled (by Social Security) and is determined to be financially needy, the child can qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
For a child, SSI eligibility is primarily based on the parents’ income, known as “deeming of income,” the parent’s income is deemed (allocated) to the child for food and shelter. Some parents have too much income for their child, regardless of the severity of the disability, to be found financially needy and disabled. In 2015, the most anyone can receive in SSI from the Federal Government is $733 per month. About 1/3 of the states supplement the Federal SSI payment. Children with Selective Mutism are no different in their needs than other children who may have a different disability.
The key to qualifying for CDB or SSI is in the quality of the medical reports submitted to Social Security. The average doctor, psychologist or other health care professional is not aware that Social Security has its own medical criteria of what constitutes a disability. For a child to qualify for CDB or SSI, the child must have “marked and severe functional limitations” compared to a non-disabled child of similar age. To avoid the frustration of applying for benefits, being denied and appealing Social Security’s decision, review Social Security’s medical criteria for children and make sure the doctors’ reports address this criteria thoroughly.
Ask anyone who is knowledgeable of the child to complete a “third-party functional assessment” of the child (obtained at SSA website under “forms”) and request teachers add an addendum to the IEP which emphasizes the child’s functional weakness compared to a non-disabled child of similar age. Social Security’s medical criteria for children can be found at https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0434005000. Please be aware, medical criteria is constantly updated and revised. When a child attains the age of 18, s/he must re-qualify for Social Security benefits program under the adult medical criteria, found at https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0434001000.