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Applying on Behalf of a Child with Autism

57 blog avatar Applying on Behalf of a Child with Autism
Expert Name: Deanna Power
Expert Title: Director of Outreach
Company Name:  Disability Benefits Help
Company URL: www.disabilitybenefitscenter.org
Short Bio: Deanna began working with people with disabilities by volunteering with Best Buddies as a student at Emerson College in Boston, where

she graduated with a degree in Marketing Communications. She now specializes in helping people of all ages determine whether or not they medically qualify for Social Security benefits.

Applying on Behalf of a Child with Autism

A child diagnosed with autism may qualify for benefits through the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. This need-based program has financial as well as medical eligibility rules. Even with these qualification standards however, many children receive benefits every month that can help cover everyday living expenses and special needs costs.

Medically Qualifying for SSI with Autism

While autism can range from mild to severe, a child’s medical records must meet the severity level of the SSA’s disability listing in order to get benefits. The autism listing appears in the SSA’s Blue Book in Section 112.10. This manual outlines standard definitions for disabilities, to ensure fairness in how the SSA approves and distributes disability benefits.

The autism listing specifically requires:

  • Deficits in social abilities, including an inability to reciprocate or respond in social situations
  • Pronounced deficits in verbal and nonverbal communication
  • A lack of imaginative abilities or inability to participate in imaginative play or other activities
  • Limited interests and activities, including a distinct increase in symptoms with any disruption of routines

Medical records are crucial when applying for disability benefits, and your pediatrician can provide records directly to the SSA for review. The DDS may seek input from others when reviewing your child’s claim too, including social workers, teachers, childcare providers, or family members that are familiar with your son or daughter’s daily challenges or limitations.

SSI Financial Eligibility and Deeming

When you apply for benefits on behalf of a child, the SSA reviews the financial situation of the entire family. A child is “deemed” a portion of any income or assets belonging to his or her parents. This deeming process means the SSA considers these financial resources available to pay for the child’s needs.

Although the financial eligibility rules for SSI are strict, many kids can qualify for benefits, because only some income and other financial resources are counted. Of these countable sources, only a percentage is “deemed” or assigned to the child as well. The SSA also takes other factors into consideration, like bills the family has, the size of the family, and the number of minor children that live in the household. You can view the SSA’s chart on income limits by a household’s size to determine if you or your spouse’s income will keep your child eligible for SSI benefits.

Preparing to Apply for SSI

Before applying for SSI, you’ll want to review the SSA’s Child Disability Starter Kit. This kit contains forms for you to complete in preparation for your disability application. It also helps you understand the other information and records you’ll need to gather before starting an SSI claim. Required records include bank statements and other information about your finances in addition to medical records; contact names, addresses, and phone number of your child’s healthcare providers; and school records, for school-age children.

Submitting an Application for Benefits

When you apply for SSI, an interview with an SSA representative is required. This representative will fill out your child’s application for you and submit it for review with the DDS. Interviews usually take place at the local SSA office, and no appointment is necessary. You can additionally call the SSA’s main helpline at 1-800-772-1213, to ask questions or make other interview arrangements.


Social Skills in Adolescence – ABA Literature Summary


Parent Waitlist Program


November 02, 2023 | 12pm-1pm PDT

Journey to Independence

Community-based program designed to support families on waitlist

Being an RBT for me was extremely fun because where were you going to find a place where you can be completely silly without having to worry what people thought about you? This was the only job that made me feel like I could make a dramatic difference while being myself.

I also liked to be surrounded by people that had the same goals of wanting to help kids and the teamwork made the job much easier and more enjoyable.

Change and progress was the ultimate goal for our kiddos. The early intervention program was seriously only a miracle because I saw changes in the kiddos that from day one, you wouldn’t even recognize who they were.

Changes from being able to utter 3-4 words where they can only make a syllable from when they started, the behavior decreases in which kiddo that used to engage in 30-40 0 self-harm to only half, learning how to wait during games, table work where they use to swipe and drop to the floor if they had to.

My favorite was when the parents would tell us what amazing progress they were making at home. I used to tear up and felt for these parents so much because it was already difficult for them and now, they can trust and rely on ABA and the therapists knowing their goal was ours.

By Emma Rogers, BA, RBT

Mother Child
Special Learning’s Free Hotline

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