[This article originally appeared on the Activity Tailor blog and is used with permission of the author and blog owner, Kim Lewis.]
If your child has speech apraxia – either as a primary condition or associated with another injury or illness – then he or she may be eligible to receive disability benefits through the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s):
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program
A communication impairment can significantly impact your son or daughter’s ability to function on a level similar to his or her peers. Specialized therapy, assistive technology, and medical attention—all integral parts of recovery—can be very costly. For families with very little income, they can be out of the question.
If your child has a communication disorder and you cannot afford to support their specific needs, you may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits on his or her behalf.
Basic Eligibility for Benefits
A child under the age of 18 typically qualifies for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) rather than Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). This is because the SSDI program requires past employment and a specific amount of taxes paid into the system. However, if a child’s parent currently receives SSDI, the disabled child may be eligible for dependent benefits under that parent’s name. If you feel that your child may qualify for dependent benefits under a parent or guardian, contact the representative who handles the eligible parent’s claim.
SSI, on the other hand, pays benefits to elderly or disabled individuals who have access to very limited income. There are no work-related requirements for SSI—making this program the best option for children with disabilities. To qualify, applicants must meet very specific financial requirements. In the case of a child, a parent or guardian’s income will be evaluated. Learn about the specific financial limits, here: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/ssi/spotlights/spot-deeming.htm.
In addition to the technical requirements listed above, there is also a basic definition of disability that your son or daughter must meet. This is as follows:
- Your child is considered disabled if he or she has an impairment (or combination of impairments) that causes pronounced and severe limitations
- Your child is disabled if he or she fails to meet age-specific developmental milestones as a result of a diagnosed medical condition.
If your child meets the basic definition of disability, his or her condition will be evaluated based on very specific medical requirements. These requirements can be found in the SSA’s guide of potentially disabling conditions, known as the blue book. Although Childhood Apraxia of Speech—or CAS—is not listed in the SSA’s blue book, your child may still qualify for disability benefits.
There are two ways in which your child may qualify for SSI without meeting a blue book listing:
- Match the specific medical criteria listed under a separate but similar listing. Many parents and professionals find that CAS closely matched blue book listing 111.09- Communication Impairment Associated with a Documented Neurological Disorder. Under this listing, the SSA requires the following criteria taken directly from the blue book:
- Documented speech deficit which significantly affects the clarity and content of the speech; or
- Documented comprehension deficit resulting in ineffective verbal communication for age; or
- Impairment of hearing as described under the criteria in 102.10 or 102.11.
If CAS occurs with another medical condition, your child may qualify for disability based on the other condition, but the SSA will also take into account all issues, including those created by CAS.
- Provide evidence that, despite not meeting a blue book listing, your child’s impairment causes significant difficulty completing age-appropriate activities of daily living.
You must provide thorough documentation of your child’s specific limitations. The SSA will use this information to complete the Childhood Evaluation Form (SSA-528), which is used to evaluate the severity of a child’s condition.
Preparing to Apply for Benefits
The initial childhood application for SSI is comprised of two forms and a required interview. Many parents prefer to complete the necessary paperwork and their interview at the same time.
The first step toward applying is to schedule your appointment with the SSA. It will probably take some time before there is an available appointment date. Use the time in the interim to collect all of the necessary documentation, including:
- medical records
- school records,
- And any other information that points to the limitations and challenges your child faces on a daily basis.
Also take the time to review the child disability starter kit. (http://www.socialsecurity.gov/disability/disability_starter_kits_child_eng.htm)
What to Expect from the Application and Review Processes
Once you complete the initial application, it might be months before your receive a decision. You should be prepared to face the possibility that your child might be denied. If this happens, it is important that you do not give up. You have 60 days from receiving the denial to file an appeal.
Although the application process can seem complicated and overwhelming, disability benefits are often a necessary lifeline for many families. Once you are awarded benefits, you will be able to better support your child’s needs.
For more information about applying for disability benefits, visit Social Security Disability Help (http://www.disability-benefits-help.org/blog) or contact Molly Clarke at firstname.lastname@example.org.