In the United States, the number of disabled children under 18 has increased significantly since 2008, to over three million individuals in 2019. Heermans Social Security Disability Law Firm, serving clients throughout Tennessee and the Memphis metro area, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Mississippi has seen childhood disability claims rise, especially among families with children, who are living at or below the poverty line. Unfortunately having a child with a disability can present a financial strain on a family or the caregiver, leaving them to plunge deeper into financial stress.
Heermans Disability Law Firm has a heart for children and does their best to provide prompt response and special care handling children’s disability claims. They understand the extra pressure put on parents and caregivers and every minute that goes by is a developmental milestone that could be missed without the support of Social Security Disability payments. Usually, caregivers are eligible for Social Security benefits if the disabled person is under 18. Disabled individuals are eligible for benefits between age 18 and 22. After that, the more complex adult disability rules apply.
It’s somewhat different for children to qualify for Social Security payments from the standpoint that a child does not have to show a work history or battle potential jobs in the national economy. However, there’s a tradeoff. Adult age-related Social Security Insurance and medical condition-related Social Security Disability payments usually have no income qualifiers. All child cases are SSI cases. Exact eligibility rules differ from adults claims. Heermans Law Firm specializes in knowing the laws in southern US states for a fast application process.
Both blind and nonblind children must have a disabling medical condition, or a combination of conditions, which will last at least twelve months.
A Heermans Social Security disability attorney is an important partner during this process. Unfortunately, a lot of child applicants are denied benefits, at least initially. Improper presentation and lack of evidence are the two most common reasons for denial. The disability lawyers at the Heermans Social Security Disability Law Firm powerfully address both of these areas from the start. Because we’ve handled so many of these cases, we know what officials like to see, and what they want extra information about.
Almost any childhood condition which meets the aforementioned criteria could qualify as a disabling condition for Social Security purposes. Some examples include:
- Complete Sensory Loss: Blindness and deafness are the most common conditions in this area. The condition must be so severe that corrective lenses or hearing aids either don’t help or don’t help very much.
- Cerebral Palsy: An early childhood brain injury, frequently a childbirth brain injury, usually causes cerebral palsy. Some CP victims have relatively mild symptoms. Perhaps they can’t brush their hair or button their shirts. In more extreme cases, CP victims are basically prisoners inside their own bodies and often need alternative forms of communication.
- Down’s Syndrome: This genetic condition causes a number of physical and mental developmental delays. Since Down’s Syndrome is permanent, these children often never have a chance to catch up. Additionally, these victims are highly susceptible to sleep apnea, heart defects, and other serious medical conditions.
- Low Birth Weight: LBW children are similar to Down’s Syndrome children, at least in terms of mental and physical developmental delays. Initially, according to the SSA, the newborn must weigh less than two pound, ten ounces. By comparison, the World Health Organization defines LBW as less than five pounds, eight ounces.
Other potentially disabling conditions include HIV infection, severe intellectual disability, and muscular dystrophy.
In terms of effects, there’s a difference between “disabled” and “bedridden.” Most disabled children can get up and go to school like other kids. But they cannot keep up with their classmates because of their physical, mental, or other issues.
As mentioned, the common childhood disabling medical conditions are usually permanent. However, researchers constantly develop new medications and new surgical techniques. In many cases, these medical innovations could mean the difference between a disabling and a non-disabling condition.
Generally, the SSA requires triennial (once every three years) reviews. The first LBW Low Birth Weight review occurs at age one, unless doctors don’t expect the child’s condition to improve by that time. At these reviews, recipients must prove that the child’s condition is still disabling even though the child is receiving medically-appropriate treatments. Let’s break these two things down a bit.
In terms of establishing a disability, medical records only go so far. Doctors rarely say that children have disabilities. Instead, evidence on this point usually includes educational records and personal statements from friends and family members. Seemingly meaningless items, like Jackie can’t play with others or cannot kick the ball to another child, could be compelling.
Basically, treatment is medically appropriate if it’s effective and/or the child is a candidate for a surgery or can tolerate a medicine’s side-effects. Caregivers cannot give disabled children Tylenol and claim they’re doing all they can. This can be a catch 22 for parents and caregivers who have a low income. Being able to afford medical treatments, extra medications, or special tutoring may be completely out of their reach. At the other end of the scale, powerful medicines and experimental surgeries aren’t always good alternatives.
Heermans Law Firm understands that all these things sound like a lot to handle, and they are a lot to handle. Frequently, as soon as one review ends, it’s time to start thinking about the next one. Caregivers of disabled children have enough on their plates. This is why a Heermans Social Security Disability lawyer is in a much better position to handle the common questions that come up in case reviews.
What Happens at Age 18
As mentioned, Social Security benefits for disabled children could continue until age 22. But when the child turns 18, the rules change.
For example, the SSA no longer uses the family’s financial resources to determine eligibility. Only the individual’s income counts, at least in most cases. A spouse’s income could count as well. So, if the parents made too much money to qualify for benefits, it’s usually easier to meet the income qualification. As a result, Heermans Law Firm handles a lot of first-time requests when disabled children turn 18.
However, it’s not an automatic approval. The SSA uses the adult disability rules, which as mentioned, are more complex. To continue receiving benefits, the disabled child must prove that s/he cannot hold a job, even jobs like sorting on a conveyor belt or stocking in a warehouse are seen as fully viable employment. The SSA doesn’t care what kind of job it is, or where it is. Sometimes, attorneys work with vocational experts who give solid opinions about what kind of job the child can and cannot hold, given the economic environment at the time and other factors.
Adults with disabilities since childhood aren’t technically new or holdover applicants. ADC individuals are eligible for benefits if one parent is receiving, or would be eligible to receive, any Social Security benefits.
Children who received benefits as minors on a parent’s Social Security record may be eligible to continue receiving benefits on that parent’s record upon reaching age 18, if they have a disability. The SSA makes the disability determination using the disability rules for adults.
If awarded, these benefits continue as long as the individual is disabled. Generally, the child doesn’t need to have worked to get these benefits. Heermans Law Firm specializes in navigating the complex in’s and out’s of the multiple disability programs and requirements that a child will have to go through, to continue to qualify for disability as they age.
If your child has been denied Social Security Disability benefits or for more information about SSA programs for children, call or text Heermans Law 24/7 at (901) 244-0057 or use our FREE Disability Evaluation form. More value added FREE information can be found in our online articles.
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