Children's Disability Benefits
Does your child qualify?
Parents and caregivers of minor children who have been medically proven
to be permanently disabled or to have a disability that will last for
longer than year are encouraged to contact Harris & Riviere as soon
as possible. Our firm can use our extensive experience and knowledge of
the Social Security system to help determine your child's eligibility
to receive disability payments. If your child is
younger than 18 and meets all federal and state qualifications for Social Security, benefits
may be available to him or her.
You will also need to follow specific rules and regulations to establish
your child's eligibility for Social Security disability benefits,
- Your child must not be working.
- Your child must have a condition that is significantly disabling.
- The child's physical or mental condition must be medically determined
to have been disabling or be expected to be disabling for at least a year
or must be expected to result in death.
Here are a Few Tips.
First, understand benefits for children under the age of 18 are called
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. These are essentially welfare
benefits, so Social Security will consider the parent(s) income and assets
in determining eligibility. Parent’s income is imputed, or “deemed”
to their children. So if parent(s) earn too much money, have significant
assets, receive large support payments for the child, or the child receives
payments from Social Security on the earning record of a deceased, disabled
or retired parent, the child may not qualify for benefits under the SSI
program, regardless of medical condition.
Also, be aware that the program was originally intended to help only the
parents of seriously ill children. Children who were so ill, their parents
ability to work outside the home was impacted by the child’s health
condition. It has since expanded to cover less severe conditions, and
therefore has been exploited by a few parents who end up reliant on their
children’s SSI benefits to pay household expenses.
The Administration looks for deliberate abuse very closely now, and has
cracked down on how lump sum awards can be spent. It is now not only more
difficult to obtain SSI benefits from a procedural standpoint, the Administration
is reviewing and suspending benefits for children whose condition is believed
to have improved over time.
Regardless of whether you are filing for the first time, or benefits have
been suspended, here is what we look for in an SSI claim. First and foremost
is a medical condition that seriously interferes with the child’s
development. In adults, Social Security evaluates how an individual’s
medical condition impacts their ability to work. Since children typically
don’t have jobs, children are evaluated peer to peer. The issue
will be whether the child is progressing normally for his or her age group.
If the condition is severely debilitating, the child may be of “listing
level severity.” Conditions which may be of listing level severity
are outlined in what is known as the Blue Book. You can click on the link
to review the listings
here. Social Security will also look to see if the condition has or is
expected to last for 12 months or more, as that is a requirement for receipt of SSI.
More often than not, we are not dealing with listing level severity, in
which case we look at your child’s progress in 6 “Domains
of Function.” These domains are broad areas of function, like “Acquiring
and Using Information” and “Attending and Completing Tasks”
which measures academic and independent functioning in a child. You can
read about these 6 domains
It is critical that parents understand these domains. Social Security requires
a child be
markedly impaired in two domains or extremely impaired in one domain to be considered disabled. In order to assess your child’s progress
in each domain, we look at 3 basic sources of information. Medical records,
school records and input from family and friends.
In many cases, parents are compelled to apply or SSI because their child
is struggling academically. Sometimes there is a medical reason for the
poor school performance, like ADHD. Occasionally, we will get a call from
a parent whose child is performing poorly with no apparent medical problem.
In the case of academic problems, we look for a 504 plan or Individual
Education Plan (IEP) to see if additional efforts are being made to bring
the child up to grade level. We look at standardized testing, disciplinary
records and attendance records to help explain performance. If your child
is performing well below state standards, that may be enough to qualify
the child for disability without a specific medical problem. But in those
cases, we absolutely require documentation from the school or testing
facility. Social security will make effort’s to contact your child’s
teacher for input about academic and behavioral issues. Those records
will be in your child’s file without you ever having seen the record.
Be aware Social Security does not award benefits just because a child has
a medical condition like ADHD or asthma. The condition must have a severe
impact on the child’s functioning, such that he or she is markedly
falling behind their peers. In instances where medication is available
to help the problem, like with ADHD or asthma, the problem must continue
to be severe even with the use of medication. If your child’s condition
is greatly improved with medication, SSI may not be available.
If you have questions about your child’s eligibility for SSI give
our office a call to discuss your situation. Each claim is unique and
the earlier we can offer advice, the better the outcome.
Contact Harris & Riviere today!
At our firm, we stand ready to assist families in overcoming this challenging
time in their lives. We know that the legal system can be daunting. When
you retain the guidance of our firm, we will thoroughly review your situation,
determine whether your child is eligible to obtain benefits, and provide
you with information on how to qualify.
If necessary, we can help appeal a wrongful denial and diligently pursue
justice on behalf of your child. Learn how Harris & Riviere can help
you. Call is at (813) 229-2667 and schedule a
free case evaluation now.