People throughout the U.S. are living with disabling physical or mental conditions. According to the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation, one out of every five children has a debilitating mental illness. Raising a child with special needs can put unique stresses on a family. For families who do not have good income or significant resources, it may be a struggle to provide the necessary equipment, therapies and medical care the child needs.
In some situations, disabled children may be eligible for supplemental income benefits through the Social Security Administration. To qualify, the child must be under 18 years old and have a physical or mental illness that has resulted in severely and markedly limited function. The income of the child’s parents must meet the federally established requirements for benefit eligibility. Additionally, the child has to have been disabled by the condition or be likely to be disabled by the condition for a minimum of 12 months, or be expected to perish as a result of the condition within one year.
Applying for benefits
There are a number of steps involved with obtaining Social Security Disability for a disabled child. The process for seeking benefits includes:
- Completing the application for Supplemental Security Income and the child disability report
- Granting the SSA permission to gather information from the child’s teachers, doctors, therapists and other professionals who are involved with their care
- Interviewing with an SSA representative to go over questions involving citizenship, marital status, the places where the child has received medical treatment, and information regarding their parents’ income and resources
Prior to beginning the process, it is a good idea to go over the checklist and other preparatory information made available through the SSA. This can help a person ensure that he or she has all of the required and pertinent information ready and submitted with the application.
Once all of the necessary information has been gathered, it is forwarded to the Disability Determination Services in the state where the child lives. The information is then reviewed by doctors and other trained staff. In the event a decision cannot be made based on the information obtained, the SSA may require the child to have additional medical exams or testing. The information review and determination process can take between three and five months.
If the application is denied, there is a separate appeals process that families can pursue. Whether beginning the application process, or considering filing for an appeal, anyone who is trying to obtain Social Security Disability benefits for a child with a disability may find it of benefit to work with an attorney.