Credit: Eric Minghella, Disability Benefits Help
Date: January 25, 2019


If your child or a loved one’s child has autism, then they could be eligible for monetary payments from the Social Security Administration (SSA) in forms of Social Security disability benefits. The SSA gives out monthly benefits to those. A child under the age of 18 can qualify for Social Security benefits, but they must meet the financial and medical criteria in order to qualify.

How to Medically Qualify with Autism
The first step for a child to be approved for Social Security benefits with autism is meeting the medical criteria outlined by the SSA. The SSA has its own medical guide informally known as the Blue Book. The Blue Book outlines what the SSA looks for when adults and children send in their application for Social Security benefits, as well as the medical documentation needed. For a child to qualify with autism, he or she must satisfy both of the following:

  • Qualitative deficits in verbal communication, nonverbal communication, and social interaction; and
  • Significantly restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities.

A child with autism will need an extreme limitation in one of the following or marked limitation of two of the following areas:

  • Understanding, remembering, or applying information
  • Interacting with others
  • Concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace
  • Adapting or managing oneself

How to Technically Qualify with Autism
The second step in order for a child to be approved is meeting the technical qualifications. A child applying with autism will have to apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, which are for people with disabilities and with very little income. Because children do not work, parents’ income will be taken into consideration when applying for SSI benefits on behalf of a child with autism. Income is the number one why reason why SSI benefits are denied.

To qualify, your family must meet a very strict income limit, but the more family members you have in your immediate family, the higher the income limit is. You can review the chart on the SSA’s website to see the exact income limit for your family. You should know though, once a child turns 18, the family’s income will not count against him or her, even if they still live at home with you.

How to Start Your Application
Unfortunately, you cannot apply for SSI benefits online, so you’ll have to do so at your local SSA office. Your child does not need to be at the SSA office with you when you are applying on their behalf. It’s recommended that you call ahead of time and schedule an appointment beforehand. When you are applying for SSI benefits on behalf of a child with autism, make sure to have all the proper medical documentation. It generally takes around three to five months to hear back from the SSA regarding whether a claim is approved or denied. If you have any further questions, you can call the SSA toll free at 1-800-772-1213.