skip to main content
Envelope full of cash
  • By Andrew Komarow
  • Posted July 1, 2022

How Much Can A Parent Make For A Child To Get SSI?

When it comes to An Autistic Child there are many things that go through a parent’s mind. An extremely common question is “what type of financial benefits can you receive for a child with autism?”

When it comes to government benefits, the most common benefit is called Supplemental Security Income.

Income: While there are some exceptions to what is counted as income, generally speaking, there are two categories.

The first is unearned income: Unearned income is all income that an individual does not earn through work, but receives through other means including Social Security benefits, state disability benefits, unemployment benefits, pensions, interest income, dividends, and money from family and/or friends. A single-parent household can make up to $1,722 per month, and a two-parent household can qualify if they make up to $2,142 per month.

The second is earned income: Earned income is money that you may receive from a job and employment, either through an employer or self-employment. A child can qualify when a single-parent household makes $3,489 per month, and a two-parent household makes $4,329 per month or less in earned income. These numbers can be adjusted higher for multiple children who might be eligible in the household.

Assets: Generally speaking, the parents and the household cannot have more than $2,000 for an individual/child, or $3,000 for a couple, in assets; this generally includes money in investments and retirement accounts. With the high cost of living in most states, these numbers are based upon the federal poverty guidelines, and they are adjusted and increased annually. If it seems like these numbers are really low you are correct, and some high-cost of living states can have adjustments to these numbers, but even in most high-cost states, these numbers remain the same. This is why Planning Across The Spectrum offers financial planning services for families to learn how they can save for the future and protect valuable government benefits.

When a parent has a “child,” which means the individual is under 18, that means that Social Security looks at something called “Deeming,” which essentially means that a portion of the assets and income of the parents is deemed, or in other words, they are counted towards the income and assets of the child. Deeming occurs when a child under the age of 18 is not married and lives at home with their parent(s). For the purposes of deeming, the income and assets of any parent(s) that the child resides with, including biological, adoptive, and stepparents, can be counted.

Is my child with autism going to be approved?

If everyone in the household qualifies based upon income and assets, then the next question is whether the child has a disability that qualifies. Social Security Administration (SSA) has a list of disabilities that automatically qualify for SSI. The list does include a variety of musculoskeletal, respiratory, congenital, and neurological disorders; however, autism is not an automatically qualifying disability Some individuals with autism live very successful lives and do not need disability benefits, while others will need support for the rest of their lives. You will need to demonstrate to SSA their level of disability.

My child is approved how much will I get in SSI?

The amount that a child under the age of 18 receives is based on how severe the disability is, and how much it impacts them. Unlike when they are over 18 when everyone gets the same amount. The maximum amount for a child under the age of 18 is $841 per month; however, many children with autism will receive less than the maximum amount based on the severity of their disability.

What about when or if my Child is already 18?

When a child turns 18, “Deeming” no longer applies, and this is when we find a majority of families start working with us to help plan for their future and the future of their disabled adult child. Once the child reaches the age of 18, the $2,000 asset limit no longer applies, and the parents can make an unlimited amount of money.

It is important that the young adult pays rent, as the parents are likely providing what is called Income Maintenance and Support, so unless there is a rent agreement, the Social Security payments are reduced by one-third. Currently, the maximum amount of SSI is $841 per month, without an agreement to pay the parent's rent, they would only receive $560.67 per month, missing out on $280.33 in SSI.

Planning Across The Spectrum can help you develop a plan for how to maximize the resources available, and how to save your disabled adult child’s future without jeopardizing important government benefits.

What can be done if we don’t qualify?

There is talk of federal legislation, namely the SSI Savings Penalty Elimination Act, to adjust the SSI asset and income limits, including updating it for modern times to avoid such things as the marriage penalty. If passed, such legislation could potentially increase the asset limit for individuals to $10,000 and $20,000 for married couples. But for now, we are still stuck with very strict rules regarding how much income and assets a parent can have in order to obtain SSI for a disabled child who is under the age of 18.

There are also many other government benefits on the State and Local levels that may be helpful, but they can be hard to navigate and may not provide all the support someone needs. That is why it is very important to plan for the future, save for your retirement, build equity in your home, and work with qualified financial planners such as those at Planning Across The Spectrum who are able to help you navigate what is available, and how to plan for the future. Planning Across The Spectrum looks at not just government benefits, but taxes, insurance, investments, and legal documents such as special needs trusts to make sure your family is set up for financial success, now and in the future.

Contact Planning Across The Spectrum for certified neurodiverse financial planning services