How a Premature Baby Can Qualify for SSD Benefits

Rachel Gaffney

Outreach Specialist


It’s not unusual for a premature baby to have significant health problems caused by the early birth. One of the parents of a premature baby may need to quit their job entirely in order to be at the hospital or be available to assist in the baby’s care.

If that happens the parents may have to deal with a big financial crisis as well as their baby’s health crisis. But the Social Security Administration’s Supplemental Support Income program can help alleviate the financial stress for parents of a premature baby struggling with health issues. Presumptive Disability benefits, which are a type of SSI benefit that can be paid out quickly, can be used for the medical and living expenses of the child.

Qualifying for Preemptive Disability Benefits

If your premature baby is born with low birth weight your baby immediately qualifies for benefits through the Presumptive Disability benefit. In order to qualify your baby’s birthweight must meet one of the criteria on the SSA’s birth weight table. If the baby does qualify then you will start to receive benefits immediately instead of having to wait for the traditional process, which can take months. You can receive benefits starting right away and for up to six months because the SSA knows that parents in this situation need money right away to help care for their child. To qualify your child must be in one of these categories:

  • 4 pounds, 6 ounces (2,000 grams) if born at 37 weeks or later
  • 4 pounds, 2 ounces (1,875 grams) if born at 36 weeks
  • 3 pounds, 12 ounces (1,700 grams) if born at 35 weeks
  • 3 pounds, 5 ounces (1,500 grams) if born at 34 weeks
  • 2 pounds, 15 ounces (1,325 grams) if born at 33 weeks, or
  • 2 pounds, 10 ounces (1,200 grams) if born at any gestational age.

Other Ways a Premature Baby Can Qualify

If your baby doesn’t meet the requirements for Presumptive Disability benefits your baby still might be eligible for regular SSI benefits. To qualify for SSI benefits your child need to meet one of the requirements that are listed in the SSA’s Blue Book. There are hundreds of listings ranging from developmental and intellectual conditions, physical disabling conditions, failure to thrive, and much more.

The Blue Book is organized by into different sections with similar conditions, making it easy to sort through. Review the Blue Book with your child’s doctor to find out how your child may qualify.

You will need to submit medical documentation of the child’s condition so if you’re not sure if your child meets one of these conditions you can ask the child’s doctors. Many claims are denied due to a lack of medical proof, so use the Blue Book as a guide of exactly what tests will need to be submitted.

Financial Requirement

The SSA has created an income cap to make sure the benefits are going to families that really need them. Parents must submit a W-2 or Federal tax return for each adult in the household that works full-time to prove their income. The combined total income for the household must be below the cap in order for the child to be eligible for benefits.

Applying For SSI

Applying for SSI benefits for your child is easy. You begin the application process online directly through the SSA’s website. But if you need help or have questions the best thing to do is make an appointment at your local SSA office and apply in person where a staff member can help you.

Sources: - 100_01


Join Our Mailing List

To join our mailing list, please complete the information below and click 'Sign up'.