SSI: Supplemental Security Income for Adults
SSI is a federal program administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) to provide monthly cash payments to people with disabilities who have little to no income and fewer than $2000 in assets. It stands for "supplemental security income" and is not the same as SSDI (social security disability income), which is a program for adults who become disabled after having worked and paid into the social security system. Children under age 18 can receive SSI, but family income is considered in the eligibility determination. Once a child turns 18, only income and assets belonging to the individual are considered.
An application can be started online, by phone, or in person at your local social security office. https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/disability/
Eligibility is based on two factors: financial situation and disability status. Disability, for SSI purposes, means that a person has a physical or mental condition that is expected to continue for at least a year or more, and prevents the person from holding employment sufficient to support themselves. Developmental disabilities frequently result in a disability for SSI purposes, but a diagnosis alone is not enough. Applicants must show medical, educational, or vocational evidence that they are not able to engage in meaningful work.
There are several types of information that may be needed to establish disability. Medical information, of course, will be needed - doctors, treatments, medications, etc will all be needed to establish that a physical or mental condition exists. The medical information will also establish the severity of the condition. In addition to medical information, some people may need to add other information in order to demonstrate that the person is not able to engage in meaningful employment. This could include documents from educational evaluations and special education reviews, information about attempts to engage in employment (if any), or statements from therapists and other professional providers.
If your child is under age 18, family income is considered when determining eligibility for SSI. If your child is 18 or older, ONLY the income the child earns is considered. Any support you provide in the way of housing or groceries is considered when determining your child's monthly SSI benefit, but family income is NOT considered to determine eligibility itself.