How Do You Navigate Childhood Disability Claims In Georgia?

Acknowledging the challenges surrounding childhood disability claims is crucial for families going through this complex terrain. The notion of labeling a child as disabled carries significant emotional weight and can present various hurdles, both legally and personally. Understanding the legal processes and available support is essential for Georgia’s families facing this situation. This guide aims to simplify the complexities of Social Security Disability for children, offering clarity and practical advice to those in need.

Understanding Social Security Disability for Children

Social Security Disability encompasses two primary programs for individuals with disabilities: Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). These programs serve distinct groups with different eligibility requirements and benefits.

  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI): This program is primarily targeted towards individuals with limited income and resources, including children with disabilities. SSI aims to provide financial assistance to meet basic needs for clothing and shelter. For children, SSI becomes crucial as it acknowledges the additional care and support required to manage their condition.
  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI): While SSDI typically serves adults who have become disabled after earning a sufficient work history, there are specific cases where disabled adultchildren can benefit indirectly. For example, if a parent is receiving SSDI benefits, retires or dies a disabled adult child may qualify for benefits based on the parent’s work record.

For children, the focus is mainly on SSI due to its income-based eligibility and its intent to assist those from birth up to age 18. The eligibility criteria for SSI for children involves both the family’s financial situation and the child’s disability severity. Here’s a closer look at these and other components:

  • Financial Eligibility: The child’s household income and assets must fall within the limits set by the SSA. This includes considering the income of parents and siblings living with the child. The SSA adjusts these limits annually to reflect changes in the economy, making it important for families to review their eligibility periodically.
  • Disability Severity: To qualify for SSI, a child must have a medical condition or combination of conditions that result in “marked and severe functional limitations.” This means the disability must significantly limit the child’s ability to perform daily activities compared to children of the same age who do not have impairments. 
  • Application Submission: Applications can be initiated online, by phone or through a local SSA office. 
  • Documentation: Families must provide comprehensive medical evidence of the child’s condition, including doctor’s reports, therapy records, and school records, showcasing how the impairment affects the child’s life.

Evaluating a child’s disability involves an in-depth review of medical and educational records, including:

  • Diagnostic tests and results
  • Treatment history and responses to treatments
  • Statements from teachers, therapists, and other professionals who interact with the child

Additionally, the SSA may require the child to undergo further examinations or tests, at no cost to the family, to fully assess the disability’s impact.

Challenges and Considerations

  • Subjectivity in Evaluations: The criteria for childhood disability are inherently more subjective, often leading to discrepancies and challenges in the application process.
  • Access to Services: Beyond financial assistance, SSI approval comes with Medicaid health insurance, which can help families access additional resources and services, such as therapy, not readily available through other means.

Practical Advice for Families

  • Early and Thorough Documentation: Gather medical and educational documentation as early as possible to support your application.
  • Seek Experienced Guidance: Considering the complexity and subjective nature of childhood disability claims, consulting with a knowledgeable attorney can provide invaluable support through the application process.
  • Prepare for Appeals: Understand that initial denials are common and that preparing for an appeal, including reconsideration and hearings, may be necessary.

Support for Your Family’s Journey

At Burgess & Christensen, we recognize the profound impact that securing Social Security Disability benefits can have on a family’s ability to support a child with disabilities. With compassion and experience, we’re dedicated to guiding Georgia families through the intricate process, aiming to secure the resources necessary for their child’s development and well-being. Call us today at 770-422-8111 or online to schedule a consultation with a dedicated professional ready to serve your family.