Communication Disorders and Social Security Benefits
By Molly Clarke writer for the Social Security Disability Help blog
Communication is a vital part of human life. We use communication to interact, learn, and develop. When a child’s ability to communicate is compromised, he or she may experience certain limitations that can only be corrected with a certain level of personalized support.
Unfortunately, not all families can afford to provide the therapy, educational support, or assistive devices that a child requires. If you find yourself facing similar circumstances, your child may be eligible to receive financial assistance from the SSA in the form of federal disability benefits.
The following article will outline the benefits available to your child and will teach you how to go about applying for them.
Qualifying for Social Security Disability Benefits
Because disabilities come in all different forms, the Social Security Administration has established an official definition of the term “disability”. This definition is intended to clarify any confusion surrounding how eligibility for benefits is determined. To be considered disabled and qualify for benefits, a child must meet the following criteria:
- He or she does not do any type of substantial work- This requirement is geared toward children under the age of 18 who are of working age. It does not usually apply to younger children as they cannot typically hold jobs. In 2013, substantial work is considered to be any job in which a person earns $1,040 or more per month.
- He or she has a physical or mental condition(s) that causes “marked and severe functional limitations”- In simpler terms, the SSA means that your child must have a physical or mental condition which significantly interferes with your child’s ability to function at an age appropriate level.
- His or her condition has lasted, or is expected to last, at least one year.
If a child fails to meet any of the criteria that make up the SSA’s definition of disability, he or she will not be eligible for disability benefits.
Types of Disability Benefits
If your child does in fact meet the SSA’s definition of disability, he or she will likely only be eligible to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. This is due to the fact that the SSA’s other benefit program is geared toward disabled workers who have made significant tax contributions throughout their careers. If you are interested in learning about SSDI benefits for an adult click here: http://www.disability-benefits-help.org/ssdi/qualify-for-ssdi. Otherwise, you will find an explanation of SSI technical eligibility criteria below:
SSI is a means-based welfare program that offers benefits to disabled individuals of all ages. Eligibility for SSI is dependent on a person’s income and financial resources. Because children do not earn their own income and are not responsible for their finances, all child applicants will be evaluated based on their parents’ income. The SSA’s process of allocating a parent’s income to the record of a child is referred to as deeming. Learn more about SSI and parental deeming, here: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/ssi/text-child-ussi.htm.
Determining Medical Eligibility
If your child meets the technical eligibility requirements for SSI, he or she will also be evaluated based on their specific disability or condition. To assess a person’s condition, the SSA consults their official manual of potentially disabling conditions—commonly called the Blue Book. Because the term “communication disorder” covers a variety of health conditions, not all children with communication disorders will be evaluated under the same Blue Book listing.
It may be in your best interest to sit down with a legal or medical professional to determine which Blue Book listing best describes your child’s condition or symptoms. You can access all childhood Blue Book listings, here: http://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/ChildhoodListings.htm
Related listings include the following:
- Listing 101.02—Major dysfunction of a joint(s) (due to any cause)
- Listing 102.10—Hearing loss not treated with cochlear implantation
- Listing 102.11—Hearing loss treated with cochlear implantation
- Listing 110.01—Congenital disorders that affect multiple body systems
- Listing 111.02—Major motor seizure disorder
- Listing 111.06—Motor dysfunction (Due to any neurological disorder such as apraxia)
- Listing 111.07—Cerebral Palsy
- Listing 111.09—Communication impairment associated with a neurological disorder
- Listing 112.03—Psychotic disorders
- Listing 112.05—Mental retardation
- Listing 112.06—Anxiety disorders
- Listing 112.08—Personality disorders
- Listing 112.10—Autistic disorders and other pervasive developmental disorders
- Listing 112.11—ADHD
If your child has a communication disorder as a result of an overlying condition, he or she may better qualify under the listing for that condition. If your child does not meet or match the requirements of any Blue Book condition, he or she may still be able to qualify if you can prove through medical documentation that your child suffers from marked and severe limitations.
Beginning Your Child’s Application
The actual initial application for SSI benefits for children is made up of several different forms and a mandatory disability interview. To begin, it is important that you contact the SSA immediately to schedule your child’s interview. This is due to the fact that the next available appointment may not be for several months.
While you wait for your child’s interview, you should work to collect all relevant and required documents. This should include any of the following that apply to your specific circumstances: school records, work history, record of your child’s diagnosis, history of medical appointments, hospitalizations, therapy notes, and the results of medical exams. For a complete list of required information, visit the following pages from the SSA’s website:
Note that even though a portion of the child’s application for SSI can be completed on the SSA’s website, many parents prefer to complete all paperwork at the scheduled interview. After submitting all application paperwork, you will likely receive a decision in the mail within three to four months.
Receiving a Decision
Unfortunately, many applications are denied after the first submission. This is largely due to incomplete or missing information. If this occurs you have 60 days in which to file an appeal. Depending on where you live, the appeals processes can be made up of one or two stages. The first stage, reconsideration, only happens in certain states. For the most part, many applications are denied at this phase.
Do not give up hope. Many more applicants are approved during the next stage of the appeals process than during both the initial application and reconsideration stages. This stage is the appeal hearing. During the appeal hearing, claimants appear in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) to answer questions. You should look at the appeals process as an opportunity to correct any errors and to present further medical proof of your child’s disability.
Many applicants opt to retain the services of an attorney or advocate at this stage of the application procedures. Although this isn’t required, it can definitely help you to present a more successful claim.
Although this process may seem daunting, there are many resources available to help you. Stay organized and determined and you can receive the benefits you need to keep your child healthy and happy.
Molly Clarke is a writer for the Social Security Disability Help blog where she works to promote disability awareness and help individuals throughout the application process for disability benefits. If you have any comments or questions for Molly please leave them in the comment section below.