When children have been diagnosed with a disability, you can apply for benefits with the Social Security Administration (SSA). However, because children have not worked at all and therefore have not gained enough work credits to qualify for their own disability benefits, they receive a different kind of disability benefit, called SSI, or Supplemental Security Income. This benefit is based on your income as parents, and not everyone qualifies. To make sure you can get benefits for your child, you may need to consult a disability attorney in order to pursue any case wherein you and your child were denied benefits (because it can and does happen). Here is how the process works and how you can make sure your child gets the financial support he or she needs.
Challenging, Difficult and Disturbing Developmental Issues
Children with more severe and more chronic health and developmental issues take precedence over children with milder disabilities. Still, you and your child could be denied if you and your spouse make too much money. Remember, the SSI benefits for disabled children are only payable to families who cannot afford all of the additional medical needs and therapies that their special needs children require. If your child qualifies based on the severity of his or her diagnosis, but your family is denied because you do not meet the poverty guidelines, your attorney can file an appeal (and several more appeals) until the SSA refuses all of your appeals or finally accepts your claim and begins paying out benefits.
Getting Benefits for Children with Lesser Disabilities
Your child is not blind, deaf or unable to move on his or her own. Instead, he or she has a lesser form of a disability that is listed on the SSA website as a "disabling condition" (e.g, high-functioning autism, mild dwarfism, etc.) As such, he or she may be denied benefits because his/her condition is viewed as "not severe enough" to warrant government funding. If you do not have any other roadblocks, such as those restrictions that occur with elevated income, your disability attorney can file an appeal to show just cause for receiving benefits.
When Your Lawyer Wins Your Appeal and Your Child Starts Receiving Benefits
Just be aware that the benefits you eventually receive are based on a calculation that involves your monthly and/or annual income, and the fullest monthly allotment your child could receive is not what you will receive unless you and your spouse become unemployed. It may also take some time to get through an appeals process, so you may have to continue working and/or living off of your savings until your child is approved for benefits. Keep all of your appointments and be present at all of the hearings with your lawyer, or you may have to start the whole process all over again.
Talk to a professional like Bruce K Billman for more details.