Many parents often wonder if their newborn or infant child qualifies for Childhood SSI disability benefits based on Developmental or Emotional Disorders. Childhood SSI claims are evaluated differently than adult claims for Social Security Disability or SSI. The SSA determines whether the child has an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the criteria of a listing, or that functionally equals the listings.
The Childhood Listing for Developmental and Emotional Disorders for Newborns reads as follows:
Developmental or emotional disorders of infancy are evidenced by a deficit or lag in the areas of motor, cognitive/communicative, or social functioning. These disorders may be related either to organic or to functional factors or to a combination of these factors.
The required level of severity for these disorders is met when the requirements of A, B, C, D, or E are satisfied.
A. Cognitive/communicative functioning generally acquired by children no more than one-half the child's chronological age, as documented by appropriate medical findings (e.g., in infants 0-6 months, markedly diminished variation in the production or imitation of sounds and severe feeding abnormality, such as problems with sucking, swallowing, or chewing) including, if necessary, a standardized test;
B. Motor development generally acquired by children no more than one-half the child's chronological age, documented by appropriate medical findings, including if necessary, a standardized test;
C. Apathy, over-excitability, or fearfulness, demonstrated by an absent or grossly excessive response to one of the following:
1. Visual stimulation; or
2. Auditory stimulation; or
3. Tactile stimulation;
D. Failure to sustain social interaction on an ongoing, reciprocal basis as evidenced by:
1. Inability by 6 months to participate in vocal, visual, and motoric exchanges (including facial expressions); or
2. Failure by 9 months to communicate basic emotional responses, such as cuddling or exhibiting protest or anger; or
3. Failure to attend to the caregiver's voice or face or to explore an inanimate object for a period of time appropriate to the infant's age;
E. Attainment of development or function generally acquired by children no more than two-thirds of the child's chronological age in two or more areas (i.e., cognitive/ communicative, motor, and social), documented by appropriate medical findings, including if necessary, standardized testing.