The Social Security Administration defines childhood disability as “a medically determinable physical or mental impairment which results in marked and severe functional limitations and which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.” To file for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for your child, Social Security considers the income and resources of the child and other family members living in the household. The representative at your local social security field office will determine if your child is eligible to apply for SSI benefits once the income requirements are reviewed.
If it is determined that your child is eligible to apply for SSI, your child’s disability claim will be forwarded to the local Disability Determination Services (DDS) office your State. DDS is responsible for gathering medical evidence from your child’s medical sources, obtaining school records, and other medical and non-medical documentation to help in making a disability determination.
A child’s medically determinable physical or mental impairment must be established by medical evidence. In addition, evidence from schools and teachers is critical in many childhood cases, because school is where the child spends a high percentage of his/her time, and performs (or doesn’t perform) a great many of his/her activities. In most cases, a 12 month longitudinal history of the child’s medical history and functioning is sufficient to evaluate the claim.
Supplemental Security Income Tips for Child Claims:
- List all physical and mental impairments as well as medical sources for the impairments. For example, if your child’s allegations are attention deficit hypersensitivity disorder (ADHD) and asthma, list the medical sources for ADHD and the medical sources for asthma. If your child does not have any medical sources for one or more of his/her impairments, DDS will arrange for your child to attend a consultative exam (CE) to evaluate your child’s functioning for his/her disability claim. The CE provider will not treat your child. The CE provider will simply evaluate your child for current functioning for the disability claim.
- If you have copies of any medical records, IEPs, psychological testing, and any other related reports that substantiate your child’s conditions, submit a copy of these reports when you file your child’s claim. Make sure that you keep a copy of these reports for your records in case this evidence is misplaced during the disability process.
- Social Security sends out an introductory letter when the claim has been received and is assigned to a disability examiner at DDS. When you receive this letter, call the disability examiner assigned to your child’s claim to review the case. Do not take for granted that everything you recorded on the application with the claims representative at the Social Security field office has transferred to DDS. If you have a disability attorney or disability advocate have them review your child’s disability claim with the disability examiner.
- Check your voice mail periodically and return the call as soon as possible if your child’s disability examiner calls or sends you a letter.
- If DDS schedules your child to attend a consultative exam, make sure to attend this exam and arrive at least 10-15 minutes early to the appointment. If you are late, the provider may not see you. If you are not sure where the appointment is located, call the provider ahead of time to get directions to the office or facility.
- If you move or change phone numbers while your child’s disability claim is pending, call your disability examiner or the field office where you applied to update your child’s disability claim with your new address and/or phone number.
- List a third party contact in case the disability examiner is not able to get in contact with you.
- Complete the activities of daily living form and submit the form to DDS as soon as possible. It is possible to complete this form at the field office when you file the claim.
- If your child is hospitalized for any of his/her physical or mental impairments while the disability claim is pending, contact your child’s disability examiner to update the claim with this information and any follow-up treatment after discharge from the hospital or facility.
- Do not let frustration create a barrier in obtaining Supplemental Security Income benefits for your child. If you become frustrated with the process, you can obtain representation from an authorized disability representative. You can also consult with your child’s disability examiner.
These are just a few strategies that can be utilized to facilitate the disability process for your child’s disability claim. Adhering to these tips does not necessarily mean that your child will be awarded benefits, but it can help you to avoid unnecessary delays in your child’s disability claim.
Tessa Walker is the founder and President of CH Consulting. CH Consulting provides free resources, services and guidance to individuals with disabilities and disability advocates. She earned a Master of Science in Human Services Administration from The University of Baltimore and a bachelor’s in psychology from Towson University. Her passion is helping to spread disability awareness to the public. Where there is a will, there is a way. Ms. Walker’s passion to help others is the “will.” Sharing knowledge is the “way” to educate the public.
Follow Tessa Walker on Twitter: @chconsultingllc
Website: CH Consulting LLC