Social Security & Disability Benefits for Mentally Handicapped Children

Supplemental Security Income, administered by the Social Security Administration, provides monthly income for some disabled children and adults. Families with mentally handicapped children may struggle to make ends meet, especially if their child requires special services or equipment. If children have severe disabilities, it may also be difficult for their parents to maintain full-time or steady employment since children may require close supervision and lots of help with daily activities and need to be driven to numerous medical appointments related to their condition.


Even if your child has a severe mental handicap, he will only qualify for Supplemental Security Income if his own income and your total family income are low and meet income guidelines. It’s hard to say exactly how much your family can earn while still allowing your child to qualify because the Social Security Administration subtracts certain expenses from your total income, including some savings for your child’s education and some work-related expenses if your child has a job. Your family must also have limited resources.

Covered Handicaps

Children may qualify for Supplemental Security Income with a number of mental handicaps, including mental retardation, Down syndrome, depression, childhood schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism. Children do not automatically qualify for benefits if they have one of these conditions, however; the conditions must cause significant functional limitations in affected children. They must have significant difficulties with thinking, communication, concentration, social functioning or caring for themselves in basic ways.


After your child has received Supplemental Security Income for a mental handicap for two years, he will qualify for Medicare. Medicare helps pay for a wide range of health care services, including services your child may need related to his handicap like counseling, psychological testing, speech therapy, occupational therapy and prescription medications.

How to Apply

Visit your local Social Security Administration office to begin an application. If you like, you can begin to fill out the Childhood Disability Report online, but you cannot complete the whole application online. Provide detailed information about how your child’s mental handicap interferes with his ability to function normally and provide names and addresses of all health care providers who have treated your child for his condition. If he receives special education services at school, provide that information as well, along with the names of his teachers and the address of his school.