How a Disability Lawyer Can Help Your Child Receive SSI Benefits
June 10, 2020
Having a child with a disability profoundly affects the entire family. Even the most loving and supportive parents and siblings experience emotional distress as they cope with this challenging situation. In addition, families often struggle financially to afford special caregivers and therapeutic interventions not covered by insurance. Fortunately, the Social Security Administration (SSA) provides benefits for children with disabilities. However, applying for and receiving these benefits is a lengthy and often complicated process. Therefore, you will have faster and more favorable results if you hire a child disability lawyer.
Is my child with a disability entitled to Social Security benefits?
Children younger than 18 may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits if they meet certain conditions:
- The child must have a physical or mental condition(s) that very seriously limits their activities.
- The condition(s) must have lasted, or must be expected to last, at least one year or result in death.
- The child must have little or no income and resources.
The family’s household income, assets, resources and other factors are also taken into consideration.
How can a child disability lawyer help your family?
The Social Security disability system is complex, with many rules, regulations and exceptions. A lawyer who specializes in this area knows how to achieve the most favorable results in the shortest amount of time.
Here are some of the many things a child disability lawyer will do:
- Review your case thoroughly before recommending the best way to proceed
- Explain the various kinds of Social Security disability benefits and determine which type your child qualifies for
- Answer your questions about various aspects of the program, including what information is needed for your application and what to do in case of a denial
- Make sure your application is filled out correctly and submitted in accordance with SSA deadlines and filing requirements
- Help you obtain the necessary medical records and supporting documentation so your claim will have the best chance of approval
- File a timely appeal (if your claim is denied) that includes missing or additional information that reinforces your case
- Contact your child’s doctors to obtain letters and other supporting materials, including expert witness testimony
- Represent your family at an appeals hearing before an administrative law judge
- Represent you in federal district court if your case proceeds beyond the hearing level
How much does it cost to hire a child disability lawyer?
Like lawyers who handle Social Security claims for adults, child disability lawyers work on a contingency basis. This means they collect their fee only after your case is won, regardless of how long it takes. Disability lawyers typically do not ask their clients to pay up-front fees or retainers.
Which disabilities qualify my child to receive benefits?
The three basic ways to qualify for disability benefits are listed below.
However, exceptions may apply for children (and adults) who do not meet the stated criteria. That’s why you should consult an experienced child disability lawyer to make sure your child receives the benefits your family deserves.
- Qualifying by having a listed impairment
The SSA publishes a list of qualifying medical impairments along with specific criteria for each impairment.
For example, the list may include sensory or respiratory disorders such as asthma or visual or hearing impairments. Nonetheless, a child will qualify only if the condition is severe enough to affect basic functions such as learning or communication.
Another example is cerebral palsy, which causes severe mental and physical impairment in some children while others experience less serious consequences.
- Qualifying by “equaling” a listed impairment
Children whose conditions are not on the qualifying list, or those who don’t meet the qualifying criteria may still be eligible for benefits. These individuals may be approved if the SSA considers their condition equivalent in severity to a listed impairment.
- Qualifying by having limited functional capacity
Some individuals may qualify even when their condition does not appear on the qualifying list or does not medically equal one of the listed impairments. In these cases, the SSA considers the degree to which the impairment reduces the person’s ability to function. To make a determination, the SSA may conduct a “residual functional capacity” (RFC) assessment to ascertain the severity of the person’s limitations.
Can a child with mental/emotional impairments qualify for disability benefits?
Yes, children and teenagers who suffer from severe mental impairments or serious emotional issues often qualify for disability benefits.
If your child’s mental condition is on the SSA’s list of qualifying disabilities, they will probably be approved automatically.
Additionally, children who have severe limitations as a result of their conditions are also likely to be receive benefits.
Otherwise, the SSA will assess your child’s limitations in several areas that include ability to pay attention, learning and using information, completing tasks and communication/interacting with others.
Here are some of the more common qualifying mental impairments, providing the child or teen suffers severe limitations as a result.
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Anxiety and/or depression
- Autism or Asperger’s Syndrome
- Cognitive impairment
- Certain learning disabilities
- Serious eating disorders
- Down Syndrome
- Auditory processing disorders
Do SSI disability benefits include medical care for my child?
No, health care and medical insurance are not included as part of the SSI benefits package. However, in Michigan, children who qualify for SSI may also be eligible for health care through the Medicaid program.
For information, contact the Michigan Department of Health & Human services or visit www.michigan.gov/medicaid.
What happens after my child turns 18?
A person who qualified for SSI benefits as a child may continue to receive benefits as a “disabled adult child.” These benefits are known as Social Security Disability Income (SSDI).
The individual must meet the following criteria:
- Is over the age of 18
- Is unmarried
- Has a disability that began before the age of 22 that has lasted or is expected to last at least 12 months or result in death
- Has at least one parent, adoptive parent, or stepparent (or grandparent or step-grandparent if no parents are living) who receives Social Security benefits or is deceased but was eligible for benefits at the time of death
- Is unable to perform substantial work due to the disability or treatment
What happens if a disabled adult child gets married?
If a disabled adult child who was receiving SSDI gets married, the person will probably not be able to continue receiving SSDI benefits. However, if the individual marries another disabled adult child, they may still be able to receive SSDI benefits.
A qualified child disability lawyer will be able to recommend the best course of action to receive the benefits you’re entitled to.
Social Security law is complicated, but finding the right lawyer is simple.
Call 1-800-CALL-SAM today for a free, no-obligation remote consultation from the comfort and safety of your home.