How Do I Get Disability Benefits for My Child?
Children typically cannot qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD) based on their own income – if they have any. However, they may qualify for the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) provided that any income or resources they have are less than those limits determined by the Social Security Administration (SSA). While potential sources of disability benefits are dependent on your personal circumstances, they can include Social Security, Medicaid, and state-based Children’s Health Insurance Program like Pennsylvania CHIP and NJ FamilyCare.
An experienced Social Security disability attorney like those at Young, Marr & Associates can assist you with all aspects of the disability process including determining whether your child is likely to qualify. For instance, many people are not aware that a sufficiently severe mental health condition like Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD), or a combination of the preceding conditions can qualify your child for SSI. Further because disability determinations can take 5 months or more, an experienced hand can help you present your strongest disability case at the outset potentially eliminating the need for the lengthy appeal process.
What is the Process the Social Security Administration Utilizes?
Unlike the 5-step process the SSA utilizes for adults, the Social Security Administration utilizes a 3-step process for children. The process is reduced to a three step process because children typically do not have a work history. Without a work history Step 4, which is concerned about whether the person can do past work, and Step 5, which is concerned with if the person can do any work, fall away. The 3-step process for children is often extremely focused on the third step of the process and particularly so on each of the six domains.
The current 3-step process for childhood disability as applied by the SSA consists of:
- Are you financially eligible? – Financial eligibility for children can be particularly complex. If the child is engaging in substantial gainful activity (SGA) they are likely to be deemed ineligible. If the child passes the financial examination by the field office they are referred to the state Disability Determination Service.
- Is the impairment severe? – It is then determined if the condition is severe meaning that it causes significant limitation to the things you are able to do. Additionally the condition must meet the duration requirements. That is, the condition must be expected to last or has lasted for at least 12 months or the condition is expected to result in the death of the child.
- Is the impairment a listed condition or causing impairment at home, school, or in the community? — If the child has a condition that is listed or medically equivalent to a listed condition, the SSA considers them disabled. However, a child with one or more severe impairments that do not equal the medical listings can still qualify. The SSA will determine the things that the child is able to do. It then determines the extent of limitations in each of six domains: attending and completing tasks, acquiring and using information, moving about and manipulating items, maintaining health and physical well-being, and caring for himself or herself.
An experienced Social Security disability attorney can assist you with each step of this process. They can locate and marshal evidence including financial, medical and educational records. They then interpret these records and prepare your disability claim in a form that tracks the SSA’s disability determination process. Further, if an appeal or hearing before an administrative law judge is necessary, we can guide you through the process and prepare you to answer any questions that may be asked in the most favorable light.
If you think that you or your child has a severe disability or combination of disabilities that may qualify him or her for SSI, don’t delay in contacting us. Contact a Young, Marr & Associate attorney today by calling (609) 755-3115 in New Jersey or (215) 701-6519 in Pennsylvania or contacting us online.