Sunday, 16 September 2012

Disability Benefits for Children in the United States



The Paralympics have without doubt raised the public awareness of disability issues in the UK. Hopefully that is true also in other parts of the world. This article concerns disability benefits. Although this blog was primarily designed for the UK it is now accessed globally. I was sent this article this week and I think it deserves an airing as it provides a cross-cultural perspective to the whole area of disability benefits. Moreover some of the parents I have worked with have returned to the USA in the past year and it may be useful for them. So I commend this article and thank the author for taking his time in writing it. 

Social Security Disability (SSD) is a U.S government program administered by the Social Security Administration and designed to provide financial relief to those who are unable to work due to a disability. You can apply for either Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. SSDI is intended for individuals who are unable to work for at least a year due to their disability and have paid Social Security Taxes (FICA taxes) for 5 out of the last 10 years. SSI, on other hand, is intended for those who do not have the necessary work history.
When most people think about Social Security Disability applications, they imagine applications filed by disabled workers who are no longer able to perform the duties required by their work due to the severity of their disabling condition. The truth is that many of the disability applications that the SSA receives are filed on the behalf of children who are suffering from severely debilitating conditions. The following information will help you understand the disability claim process for a child and how a child can receive Social Security Disability benefits.
Who Qualifies?
Children who are under 18 years of age may qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Those who are between the ages of 18 and 22 may qualify for SSDI benefits if their parents have earned enough work credits to qualify for these benefits.
In order to qualify for SSDI or SSI benefits, a child must have a physical or mental condition that has a serious impact on his or her activities and the condition must be expected to last at least one year or result in death.
How to Apply
In order to apply for Social Security Disability benefits for a child, you need to go to the SSA’s website and fill out the Child Disability Report. This is the first step in the application process. If you do not have access to the Internet, you can visit your local Social Security office to obtain the form.
When you file the initial application, be sure that you provide as much medical documentation as possible to support your claim. If you do not provide the information during the initial application process, the examiner in charge of the claim will likely request copies of medical records when the file is assigned to him or her.
The examiner who reviews your child’s claim will determine whether or not your child’s disability prevents him or her from participating in age-appropriate activities. In order to do this, school records will also play a part in determining the eligibility of your child and you will need to provide these records or sign a release allowing the SSA to obtain the records in order to process your child’s claim.
Filing an Appeal
If your child’s initial application is denied by the Social Security Application, you have a right to appeal the decision. This will likely mean a hearing before an administrative law judge. This is where you will plead your case to the judge, who has the power to overturn the SSA’s decision and grant your child the benefits he or she needs. It is highly recommended that you retain the services of a disability attorney when attending a disability hearing as an attorney is familiar with the disability laws and how specific laws can help your child’s Social Security Disability case.
If the hearing results in further denial, there is still hope. You can submit an appeal to the SSA Appeals Council and, if that does not work, further your appeal to the district court. Again, it is crucial that you work with a disability attorney if you are denied benefits during the initial stage of the application process as you will need the help of an attorney to navigate the steps of a disability appeal and increase your chances of a successful appeal outcome.
If you are worried about the cost of a disability attorney, you will be happy to know that these professionals work on a contingency basis. You will not have to come up with any money up front. The attorney only collects a fee if you win your disability case. If the attorney’s services result in the award of disability benefits to your child, that attorney will receive 25 percent of the back pay that is awarded to your child by the SSA.

3 comments:

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