Today I have a guest post written by Molly Clarke, who is the Social Media Coordinator for Social Security Disability Help and contributes regularly to the Social Security Help Blog. She explains the process of applying for disability benefits for parents whose children have communication disorders.
To contact Molly with further questions, please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Applying for Disability Benefits for Children with Communication Disorders
Communication is a vital part of human life—it allows us to connect, learn, and grow. When a child is not able to communicate effectively due to a communication disorder, his or her entire life can be impacted.
A communication disorder is general title given to a group of disorders that prevent a child from speaking, hearing, or processing language. Communication disorders affect children in varying ways. One child with a communication disorder may not experience any significant limitation in his or her life while another child with the same communication disorder may be extremely limited in his or her abilities.
If you are the parent of a child who has difficulty speaking, you likely make it your first priority to tend to their needs. Unfortunately, this can be made difficult for families who have limited income. If you find that you cannot afford the heightened medical bills, assistive devices, or therapies necessary to improve your child’s communication, you may qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits on his or her behalf.
Before jumping into the application process it is very important that you understand the programs available to you and how to qualify on behalf of your child. This article will provide you with that information and get you started down the correct path.
Although the Social Security Administration (SSA) offers disability benefits through two separate programs, children only qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) on their own record. SSI is a needs-based benefit program that provides assistance to elderly and disabled individuals who have very limited income. To qualify for SSI, an applicant must meet very specific financial rules. In the case of a child, his or her parent’s income will be taken into account. This process is called parental deeming.
Learn more about parental deeming and SSI requirements, here: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/ssi/spotlights/spot-deeming.htm.
To meet the SSA’s definition of childhood disability, your child must have a physical or psychological condition that is expected to last at least 12 months and that impairs his or her ability to perform daily activities.
If your child meets this definition, his or her condition will be evaluated based on the standards set in the SSA’s blue book. The blue book is the SSA’s official handbook of potentially disabling conditions. Under each listing, the SSA lists the specific symptoms needed to qualify for SSI.
As a parent, you should first check the blue book listings to see if your child’s specific disorder is listed. If your child’s condition is not listed, he or she may still qualify if their symptoms match the criteria of a separate listing. Once you find the appropriate listing, you must procure medical documentation to prove that your child meets all of the listing’s requirements.
Communication disorders are specifically listed in the following section of the blue book: 111.09 (Communication Impairment Associated with a Documented Neurological Disorder). To meet this listing, you must be able to produce medical evidence that he or she suffers from a neurological disorder that causes the following:
· A documented speech deficit which severely affects the clarity and content of the child’s speech; or
· A documented comprehension deficit which results in ineffective verbal communication; or
· A hearing impairment that can be treated with a cochlear implant; or
· A hearing impairment that cannot be treated with a cochlear implant.
Not all communication disorders will fall under listing 111.09. Other relevant listings may include:
· Section 102.10 – Hearing loss not treated with cochlear implantation
· Section 102.11 – Hearing loss treated with cochlear implantation
· Section 112.03 – Psychotic Disorders
· Section 112.05 – Mental retardation
· Section 112.06 – Anxiety disorders
· Section 112.08 – Personality disorders
· Section 112.10 – Autistic disorder and other pervasive developmental disorders
· Section 112.11 – ADHD
See all blue book listings, here:
To begin the SSI application process, you will be required to complete two forms and your child will have to undergo an interview with an SSA representative. These two forms include the Child Disability Report and the Application for SSI. Currently, only the Child Disability Report can be filled out online. For this reason, many parents prefer to complete both forms at the time of their child’s interview. Schedule your interview by calling the SSA’s main phone number (1-800-772-1213).
Before attending your interview you should collect medical and non-medical records needed to support your child’s claim. The following checklist can be very helpful when compiling your child’s records:
Child Disability Checklist- http://www.socialsecurity.gov/disability/Documents/Checklist%20-%20Child.pdf
What to do in the Case of a Denial
It is important to realize that your child may not be approved right away. In fact, many initial applications are denied. If your child is denied, you have 60 days from the date of the denial to appeal the SSA's decision. The best thing you can do for your child is to remain persistent in your efforts. You can prepare for the appeals process by collecting the most up to date medical documentation and even by retaining the services of a disability attorney.
Once you are awarded disability benefits you will be able to provide for your child’s needs and help them to cope with or overcome their speech impairment.
For more information visit Social Security Disability Help (http://www.disability-benefits-help.org/blog).