Social Security for Disabled Children
While a child may not have paid into the Social Security system, she may still be eligible for disability benefits. Payments can be made under the Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) program. It applies to children aged 18 and under. The child must have disabilities that markedly limits her activities and have lasted or are expected to last at least a year. The Social Security Administration (“SSA”) will provide benefits if the child has parents of modest means financially and no other source of support such as trust funds.How Do I Increase My Child’s Chances of Getting Benefits?
After the parent files the application, a lawyer skilled in representing children before the SSA should be contacted to gather the documents necessary to prove the case. Oftentimes, if the child is of school age, school administrators have already begun the process of determining child disabilities. There may be an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFS) or an Individualized Education Program (IEP) that the lawyer will obtain from the school system.
As part of these plans, professional testing, both physical or mental, like an IQ test or a psychological evaluation or functional capacity evaluation, may have been done to assess the child’s limitations at the request of the school administration. Good lawyers will also try to get teacher emails to/from parents tending to show the child’s daily difficulties. Progress reports, attendance records and any school suspension records are also important to obtain.
The lawyer will then obtain school records, hospital records, pediatrician records, records from medical specialties and plug them into the framework the SSA has established to determine disability. A judge will decide whether a certain record shows mild, moderate, marked, or extreme limitations to the child. If limitations are only mild or moderate, the chance of success is reduced. Marked or extreme limitations usually result in a finding of child disability.What is the Social Security Administration Looking For?
The SSA wants to know if the child’s ability to acquire, learn or use information is limited and whether that limitation is mild, moderate, marked or extreme. It wants doctors and medical providers to state the degree of limitation in the child’s ability to comprehend and express both simple and complex ideas, verbally and in writing. Another area is the child’s ability to interact and relate with others and the child’s distractibility, focus, frustration level and ability to complete activities.
For children with physical limitations, the SSA wants medical providers to rate the child’s ability to move her body from place to place, move and manipulate objects and describe how the side effects of medication and treatments (such as radiations or injections) would interfere with and limit function. To show how detailed the SSA can get in its inquiry, it asks medical providers to rate how the child’s ability to care for herself would entail placing inedible objects in the mouth (e.g. dirt, chalk) or thumb-sucking or problems with toileting or dressing or self-inflicted injury such as cutting or pill-popping or head banging.
The judge for SSA takes everything into account; so, it is important that parents of the child applying for SSI tell the attorney everything that goes on in that child’s life. The lawyer will obtain letters of support from people who know the child and ask doctors to provide opinion letters to support the claim.Experienced Social Security Lawyers
At Marcotte Law Firm, our lawyers are experienced in getting people of all ages the Social Security benefits they need. If you have any questions about whether your child qualifies for Social Security, call the Social Security lawyers at Marcotte Law Firm for a free consultation.