Applying for Disability for Cerebral Palsy
If you or your child suffers from cerebral palsy, Social Security disability can help you stay financially independent as you work to manage the condition. With chronic conditions such as cerebral palsy, maximizing independence and minimizing stress are key to enjoying a long, healthy life. If you feel Social Security benefits would allow you to do that, Delaware County, PA’s law office of Lisa M. Ritacco may be able to help.
What Is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy is a permanent condition that is present in approximately 2.1 out of every 1,000 births. The condition is caused by damage to the brain and often involves severe physical disabilities. Mental function is not always affected, though a significant percentage of sufferers also have cognitive problems, speech disorders, epilepsy and other co-existing conditions.
Symptoms of cerebral palsy include moderate to severe difficulties with body movement, coordination and reflexes. Though the condition does not get worse over time, it is frequently debilitating enough to limit one’s employment opportunities.
How to Apply
In the U.S., disability benefits are administered under one of two programs:
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI): To qualify for SSDI, you must have worked a certain number of hours and paid into Social Security previously.
- Supplemental Secured Income (SSI): Unlike SSDI, SSI is needs-based — it is not determined by work history. Anyone demonstrating financial need can apply for SSI.
Because the disease is present at birth, parents may apply for cerebral palsy disability benefits on behalf of their affected child. In this case, eligibility is determined by the parent’s income, work history and prior contribution to Social Security. When the child turns 18, their eligibility is reassessed under the disability rules for adults which may be more stringent than those for children.
Disability and Cerebral Palsy
In order to qualify for disability due to cerebral palsy, it must be demonstrated that the condition is severe enough to prevent the applicant from supporting himself or herself. Though it is listed in the Social Security Administration’s Blue Book of eligible conditions, a diagnosis of cerebral palsy alone is not enough to guarantee a successful claim. In addition to that, it must be demonstrated that the individual either:
- Has an IQ of less than 70, suffers from severe emotional instability or other abnormal behavior patterns,
- Has a significant speech, hearing or vision impairment, or
- Suffers from a severe disorganization of motor function.
Proving any of the above requires thorough medical documentation including test results, doctors’ reports and more. In general, rejection rates are high when anyone applies for SSI and SSDI benefits. While cerebral palsy is one of the more common conditions covered, upwards of 65% of all first-time applicants are rejected, frequently due to a lack of sufficient documentation.
What to Do If You Are Rejected
If you or your child’s Social Security for cerebral palsy claim has been rejected, it is possible to appeal the decision. However, there are time limits on when you can appeal, so be sure to speak with a disability lawyer quickly.
When you contact the law office of Lisa M. Ritacco, we’ll meet with you, assess your case and help you take steps that may lead to your claim getting approved. Contact our cerebral palsy disability lawyer today for more information.