We’re often asked by parents about resources that are available to families.  In a guest post, Bryan MacMurray shares information on how to obtain Social Security Disability Benefits for a child with a disability related to a fetal syndrome. 


Applying on Behalf of a Child with a Fetal Syndrome

Infants born with fetal syndromes often qualify medically for disability benefits for a period of at least 12 months after birth. Some, dependent upon the extent of their symptoms and complications, continue to be medically eligible throughout infancy and childhood.

As the parent of a child with a fetal syndrome, you can apply for benefits on his or her behalf. If approved, you’ll receive monthly support for your son or daughter through the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) Supplemental Security Income program.

The SSI Program’s Eligibility Rules

When children are granted disability benefits, it is typically through the SSI program, which is need-based and has financial as well as medical eligibility rules. Financially speaking, the SSA must review the income and assets of the parents and sometimes the other members of the immediate household.

There are limitations on income levels and other financial resources, but the SSA also only counts some funds and additionally only “deems” or assigns a portion of those to the disabled child. This complex calculation method means that many children are able to receive support through SSI, even if their parents have a moderate income and some assets.

The SSA’s Disability Listings

Medical eligibility for benefits requires the SSA looks at your son or daughter’s medical history and records. Many children who qualify do so by meeting a disability listing in the Blue Book. This manual covers many common fetal syndromes, like cardiac abnormalities, digestive disorders, kidney conditions, and speech and visual impairments.

Even if your child’s condition is not listed, he or she may still qualify by having medical evidence of a severity level match to a listed disability. In other words, if your child’s fetal syndrome is the medical equivalent to a listed condition, he or she can qualify for benefits under that listing.

Continuing Eligibility Reviews

Dependent upon your child’s syndrome, the SSA may grant benefits for a period of one year or several years. If your child’s condition is expected to improve, then his or her eligibility for benefits may be reviewed annually, every 18 months, or every three years. If however the fetal syndrome for which your child receives SSI causes long-term or permanent disability, then the SSA may review your child’s medical eligibility less frequently, like once every five or seven years.

Because SSI is need-based though, you will be expected to apprise the SSA of your financial situation on a regular basis. You must provide updates on income changes and other factors that may affect SSI eligibility. The SSA will explain these rules to you when you apply for benefits and when your child is approved for SSI.

Applying for Benefits

When you apply for SSI for a child, you must take part in a personal interview. These interviews often happen at the local SSA office, though they are sometimes conducted via phone, at 1-800-772-1213. Before applying, be sure to review the Child Disability Starter Kit and complete the forms the SSA recommends as part of this process.



Do you have other questions about fetal syndrome diagnoses? Contact us.  We’re here to help families.

We appreciate Bryan contributing this information.  We also encourage families who want to share the story of their family’s experience with fetal syndromes to do so.  Find out more.