SSI Benefits for Premature Babies

by Angela M. Wheeland

Supplemental Security Income, also known as SSI, is a supplemental program designed to help the elderly, blind and disabled make ends meet. The program is funded by taxpayer dollars and run by the Social Security Administration and state agencies. SSI is also available to disabled children, including premature babies, but to qualify, the child must meet certain weight restrictions and the parents must meet certain income limitations.

Low Birth Weight

The qualifications for infants are based on weight and not whether the baby was born premature; however, gestational age does play a part when determining low birth weight. All babies born weighing less than 2 pounds 10 ounces meet the low birth weight criteria, regardless of gestational age. A baby born at 33 weeks must weigh less than 2 pounds, 15 ounces to qualify. A baby born at 34 weeks must weigh less than 3 pounds, 5 ounces. A baby born at 35 weeks must weigh less than 3 pounds, 12 ounces to qualify, and a baby born at 36 weeks must weigh less than 4 pounds, 2 ounces. Babies born between 37 and 40 weeks qualify under the low birth weight if they weigh less than 4 pounds, 6 ounces.

Financial Criteria

The SSI income limit is based on the federal benefit rate, which is $710 per month for a child as of 2013. Benefits are based off your income; however, the SSA doesn't count all your income when calculating whether you qualify. For example, the SSA excludes the first $20 of unearned income, $65 of earned income and all money you use to pay for medical care. If you earn income, the SSA will reduce your benefits by $1 for every $2 you earn and your benefits will begin to phase out. Once you're completely phased out, you won't qualify for SSI benefits. Some states also offer SSI benefits, which can increase your monthly allowance.

Submitting Your Application

If your family meets the financial criteria and your baby meets the low birth weight test, you can apply for SSI benefits. To apply, visit the SSA website and fill out the Child Disability Report. In this section, you must furnish information about your child's medical records and medical condition. You must also provide information about your income. Once you complete the report, you must call the SSA to finish your application.

Immediate Payment

In most cases, the SSA can take up to five months to process an SSI application, but some conditions spark an immediate payment. Babies who weigh less than 2 pounds, 10 ounces fall into this category and will receive immediate payment for up to six months while the state decides whether the baby is disabled. If the state later finds that the baby's condition is not severe enough to receive SSI, you won't receive any more payments, but you won't have to pay back the payments that your baby received.

About the Author

Angela M. Wheeland specializes in topics related to taxation, technology, gaming and criminal law. She has contributed to several websites and serves as the lead content editor for a construction-related website. Wheeland holds an Associate of Arts in accounting and criminal justice. She has owned and operated her own income tax-preparation business since 2006.

Photo Credits

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