Guest Blog: Will My Disabled Child Qualify for Social Security Benefits?

Very often, we come across people who need help with Social Security benefits. It is upsetting to hear their struggles and frustrations with the system. So, when we come across a professional who has the experience and know-how to navigate through the maze of the government, we have to sit up and take notice. That professional is Kathleen Dotoli, Esq. Kathy is truly a dedicated attorney who has mastered her craft. She was kind enough to provide some insight for these applications. Please take note and call her if you or someone you know is struggling with obtaining these important benefits. 

We all know that Social Security benefits are available to senior citizens once they reach retirement age. But did you also know that disabled children and young adults may also receive benefits?

That’s right. The Social Security Administration (SSA) is there to help families with their children’s medical and financial needs through the disability insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs when a child is disabled at birth or as a result of an acquired condition later in life.

To begin the inquiry, a parent or guardian must submit an application online or in person at a SSA office. Next, the SSA will review your child’s medical records to determine whether he or she fits the criteria for disability in conjunction with their “Blue Book” list of impairments. The criteria for determining disability in children is different and in some cases more lenient then it is for adults. For example, conditions such as ADHD, developmental disabilities, low birth weight and failure to thrive are qualifying disabilities in children, but not adults.

For children, the types of conditions that may result in an automatic qualification include respiratory disorders such as severe asthma and cystic fibrosis. Blood disorders leading to bone marrow failure, anemias, or thrombosis is another category that may qualify. Some cancers, such as neuroblastomas, lymphoma, leukemia and thyroid cancers may be considered qualifying conditions as well. Digestive disorders such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease, limitations to the senses and speech such as blindness, skin disorders like severe burns or photosensitivity and neurological disorders like cerebral palsy and brain injury are also qualifying conditions.

New this year is a comprehensive mental health classification addressing neurocognitive disorders, schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders, anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorders and intellectual disorders. Also new in 2017 is a broadened category of immune disorders including scleroderma, lupus, connective tissue disease, inflammatory arthritis, Sjogren’s syndrome and HIV infection.  For a complete list of qualifying conditions, click here  

Once a qualifying condition is identified, the SSA will review how the condition impairs the individual seeking benefits. If SSA determines that the condition and its impact on the child rise to a certain level of disability in terms of daily function, the child will be granted benefits. If not, the decision can be appealed.

If you’re considering an application for Social Security Disability or SSI benefits for your child or need help with an appeal, please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions on how to proceed. The advice is free and we don’t collect a fee unless we obtain benefits for your child.

By Kathleen Dotoli, Esq.

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