October 30, 2012

SSI Benefits for Children With Learning Disabilities

Indiana children with learning disabilities may be entitled to Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.  A significant portion of my law practice is devoted to helping children and their families receive Social Security disability benefitsMy staff and I take great pride in being able to explain the application and appeals process to parents of disabled children, and we make sure that they are fully prepared when it is time to appear at a hearing before a Social Security Administrative Law Judge.  I have found that some other disability attorneys simply do not handle children’s cases, or they are unfamiliar with what it takes to win these claims.  Some parts of children’s cases are the same as adult cases; for example, the appeals process has the same steps for adults and for children.  However, other elements of children’s claims are quite different from adult claims, especially when it comes to showing how the claimant’s impairments are severe enough to be disabling under Social Security’s rules.  Knowing what the Social Security Administration (SSA) is looking for in children’s cases can be the key to a successful outcome.

In my experience as a disability attorney representing children and their families, I find it especially beneficial to submit certain types documentation of a child’s disabilities to the SSA.  These records can include, but are not limited to:

  • Medical records from treating physicians, especially specialists, who treat the child for any physical or mental impairments.
  • Written statements from treating physicians concerning the severity of the child’s disabling condition
  • Report cards
  • IQ tests
  • Individualized Education Program (IEP)  or 504 Plans developed at the child’s school
  • Written statements from teachers concerning the child’s academic progress and behavior
  • Behavior reports, written progress reports, and other written correspondence from the child’s teacher

For each of my clients, I request that the treating physicians complete questionnaires that are designed to show Social Security’s disability adjudicators that the child fits the SSA’s definition of disability.  Many of these questionnaires refer to the “Listing of Impairments.”  The Listings are contained in a manual the SSA publishes; they detail various physical and mental conditions the SSA considers disabling. Learning disabilities are caused by a wide range of mental and developmental impairments, and most of these conditions are addressed in the Listing of Children’s Impairments, Section 112: Mental Impairments.  If the child’s treating physician’s answers to the Listing questionnaires support our contention that his patient meets Social Security’s listings, it can help in winning the disability claim.

Another type of questionnaire I have developed addresses the child’s capabilities in six “domains” that the SSA uses to determine how the child’s impairments affect his performance in six important areas of daily functioning.  If the SSA finds that the child either has “marked” limitations in two of these domains or “extreme” limitations in one of them, it is likely that the SSA will find the child disabled.

I have represented many children with learning disabilities.  Many of these children have received low IQ scores in testing performed by their schools or their doctors.  They typically require special accommodations from their school, and often they are not in the appropriate grade for their age because they have been held back.  SSI benefits may be available for families with children suffering from learning disabilities, and many representatives like myself will work on a contingency basis to help them get the benefits they deserve.

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