August is Back to School Month for families with school age children. The National Retail Federation (NRF) notes that consumers were cutting back on non-essential items or shopping sales in order to afford back to school supplies with the current inflation rate. For families with disabilities, subsisting on Social Security benefits, this can be especially daunting. NRF calculates the average cost per family to be $864 this year, mostly owing to inflation.
The Social Security Administration provides income for children through two programs. SSA pays benefits for minor children of disabled adults who paid into the Title II program through pay roll taxes. Second, SSA provides direct benefits to disabled children of low income families through its Supplemental Security Income program. These benefits provide for approximately 4 million children in this country.
For families with a disabled child, the family must be low income to be considered eligible. Review this chart to see if your family meets the threshold requirements. The SSI Program provides critical support for 1.2 million children in this country. Fifteen percent of all SSI recipients are children. Because eligibility for SSI depends on meeting both medical and financial criteria, the rate of SSI receipt varies geographically depending on local health, economic and demographic factors. In 2020, Georgia had 42,750 children receiving SSI.
Children receiving benefits as a child of a disabled or deceased adult who paid into the Social Security program with pay roll taxes account for approximately three million children in the nation. This program is not limited to low income families and is not means tested.
These programs provide critical economic support to children. The average family income for families in these programs fall 25% lower than that of other children. Many of these families receive 43% of all family income from Social Security. For families in the SSI program, the reliance on Social Security is even greater.
Policy discussions about the Social Security system often focus on the retirees and disabled adults without full consideration of the economic support the programs provide to children. Benefits that affect adults also affect children. Best wishes to all those kids as they head back to school.