How Long Does It Take to Get Approved for Disability for a Child?

You can expect to wait approximately three to five months for your child’s disability to be approved, unless they have a condition that qualifies for presumptive disability. When this happens, your child will immediately begin receiving disability payments.

If you’re anxious about whether or not your child will be approved, you are far from alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 120,000 babies are born with birth defects each year. Tens of thousands of babies will also develop disabilities as a result of birth injuries, infections, and illnesses.

Having a special needs child is incredibly expensive. A Kansas Cerebral Palsy Lawyer describes some of the costs you may be facing as:

  • Frequent medical appointments
  • Renovations to make your house accessible
  • Specialized vehicles to transport your child

On top of these expenses, you may be trying to get your baby or child early intervention services that prevent the progression of their condition. It’s no wonder you’re stressed-out about when you might see that Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payment.

About Presumptive Disability

Presumptive disabilities are conditions that are so serious that the Social Security Administration (SSA) “presumes” your child’s impairment warrants SSI payments. If your child has any of the following conditions, they may qualify for presumptive disability:

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Certain amputation(s)
  • Down syndrome
  • End-stage kidney disease that requires dialysis
  • Long-term condition that has left the child bedridden and unable to walk without assistance
  • Low birth weight
  • Severe cerebral palsy
  • Severe mental retardation over age seven
  • Severe muscular atrophy
  • Severe muscular dystrophy
  • Spinal cord injuries that impair walking
  • Stroke that took place more than three months ago and resulted in the loss of the ability to walk or to use a hand and arm
  • Symptomatic HIV or AIDS
  • Terminal illness with a life expectancy of no more than six months that requires hospice care
  • Total blindness
  • Total deafness

Any SSI payments your child receives due to a presumptive disability will continue for up to six months while you wait to find out if your disability application has been approved.

What to Expect During the Approval Process

The process of applying for and waiting for SSI for your child can be confusing and frustrating. Let’s go over a few basic concepts that will make it easier to understand what is going on while you wait.


Deeming is a process the SSA uses to “deem” how much of your income is contributed to your child. This is then considered to be your child’s income, or at least a portion of it. The income of any parent who lives with your child is counted, including a step-parent. Rather than basing this amount on your total income, it is based on your income after deductions are taken for any other children in your household.

Back Pay

If your child is deemed to be eligible for SSI benefits, depending on when the condition occurred, your child may be able to receive retroactive Social Security disability benefits dating back as far as their day of birth. Back pay may be paid out in one lump sum or in installments. The total amount or the first installment is typically received within 60 days.

Age Limits

There is no minimum age requirement for a child to apply for SSI because many babies are born disabled. Once your child turns 18, their level of impairment will be reevaluated to determine if they qualify for disability for adults.

Three to five months can feel like a lifetime when the bills are piling up and you need to get your child treatment. Once your child is approved and some of the financial pressure is off your shoulders, you’ll be rewarded for your patience.