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Children and Social Security Disability

Child Social Security DisabilityAs an attorney who specializes in Social Security disability claims in San Diego and Temecula, I am often asked about disability claims for children with special needs. When a child is diagnosed with a long-term disability or illness, parents need to know about all of the resources available to help them cope with their child’s expenses. Supplementary Security Income (SSI) payments can help lower income families afford to care for their sick or disabled child.

Qualification for SSI is based on two separate factors, and the child must meet requirements in both of these areas in order to receive SSI. An application for SSI may be denied for either of these reasons, but when parents feel they have a compelling case or sense an error in the application process, they may wish to appeal the decision.

First, the child’s disability or illness must be medically documented. It must be proven that the child is impaired, through either physical or mental limitations, to the point where his or her abilities are significantly limited. The disability must also be expected to last for at least one year.  Alternatively, the child may qualify if he or she has been diagnosed with a terminal illness.

The second stage of qualification is based upon the family’s income and resources. The incomes of all family members living in the household are counted, and must fall below a certain level in order for the child to qualify for SSI payments. Resources such as cars, boats, and cash on hand will also be counted. If the child works and earns more than a certain amount (for 2012 the limit is $1,010 per month), then he or she will not qualify for SSI benefits.

When a child’s application for SSI payments is denied, parents have the right to appeal the decision. This often involves gathering more medical evidence to prove the child’s disability. Parents may also appeal if they feel a mistake was made calculating their resources. Many of these cases can be decided favorably upon appeal, especially when new evidence supporting the child’s level of disability can be demonstrated. If the case is approved through the appeals process, the child will receive a check for the SSI payments he or she missed while the case was being decided.

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