I want to introduce you all to Molly Clarke.
She writes for the Social Security Disability Help Blog. They use their blog and website to promote disability awareness, provide useful resources, and help individuals throughout the Social Security Disability application process. She is a guest writer today for my blog. Great information about applying for social security... please read!
(The photos throughout the post are photos of Rett girls. They are NOT affiliated with the social security department but were added by me. I can't publish a post without our cute girls faces.)
Disability Benefits for Children with Rett Syndrome
Rett syndrome is a genetic disorder of the nervous system that typically affects females between the ages of 6 to 18 months. Rett syndrome is considered to be an Autism Spectrum Disorder and is characterized by the inability to perform purposeful movement.
Caring for a child with Rett syndrome requires extra time, energy, and—in many cases—money. Additional medical care and supportive services can become quite expensive. As the parent of a child with Rett syndrome, you may also find that you cannot work while simultaneously providing around-the-clock care for your child. The resulting loss of income and medical insurance can cause a significant financial burden.
If your child has Rett syndrome, she may qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. SSD benefits can be used to pay for anything from food and clothing to things like assistive technology or supportive care. The following article will give you with a brief overview of the SSD system and will provide you with the information you need to begin the application process for your child.
Compassionate Allowances Processing
Typically, the SSD application process can take months or even years to complete. The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes that individuals with severely debilitating conditions cannot be expected to wait these standard processing times. For this reason they offer the Compassionate Allowances (CAL) program. The CAL program allows individuals with certain conditions to be approved for disability benefits in as little as ten days. Fortunately, Rett syndrome is one of the 200 conditions that qualify for CAL processing.
It is important to note that you are not required to fill out additional paperwork to receive CAL processing. The SSA will evaluate your child’s application and expedite it accordingly. You can learn more about Rett Syndrome and the CAL program, here.
Supplemental Security Income
The SSA governs two separate programs that offer financial assistance to individuals who have disabilities. The first program—Social Security Disability Insurance—requires that applicants earn income and pay taxes for a specific amount of time. For obvious reasons, children don’t typically qualify for SSDI.
Disabled children typically receive benefits from the second program—Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSI is a needs-based program that provides benefits to disabled or elderly individuals who have very little income and financial resources. To qualify for SSI, applicants must meet very specific financial limitations.
In the case of a child, a portion of his or her parent’s income will be taken into consideration. The SSA calls this process “deeming”. Deeming occurs for children who are under the age of 18, who are unmarried, and who still live with a parent or guardian. Parents’ earned income, unearned income, and financial resources will all be deemed.
Income and resources that will not be deemed include the following:
· Public Income Maintenance (PIM), including Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) and VA pension for veterans
· Food Stamps
· Disaster Assistance
· Foster Care Payments
· Tax refunds on real property (property that includes land and/or buildings)
· Home grown produce used for personal consumption
The SSA also makes allowances for living expenses. In 2013, the allocation for each additional child that you support is $356 per month. The SSA also includes a parental living allowance. The amount for one parent is $710 per month. The amount for two parents is $1,066 per month. These allowances will be deducted from the amount of deemed income on a child’s disability application. It is important to note that this amount will not be subtracted for parents or children who already receive public assistance.
Medical Eligibility Requirements
In addition to the technical and financial requirements listed above. Your child must also meet certain medical requirements. The SSA uses an official manual of disabling conditions—referred to as the blue book—to determine a child’s medical eligibility.
The SSA states, that to qualify for disability with Rett syndrome, a child must meet one or more of the following blue book listings:
· Section 110.08 B – Catastrophic congenital disorder: To qualify under this section, a child’s condition must be expected to result in death within the first few months of his or her life or must cause serious interference with development or functioning.
· Sections 111.06 A & B – Cerebral Palsy: To qualify under this listing, a child’s condition must severely impact body movement, walking, and standing.
· Section 112.02 – Organic mental disorders: To qualify under this listing, a child’s condition must cause irregularities in their perception, intellect, emotions, or behavior.
You can look up more specific symptoms and requirements on the SSA’s website:
Social Security Disability Application Process
Prior to beginning the application process, it is necessary that you collect records and documentation of your child’s condition and your personal finances. Medical documentation should include records of your child’s diagnosis, lab test results, summary of treatments, reactions to treatment, hospitalizations, and any other relevant information. It is also important that you collect personal statements from the professionals that interact with your child on a regular basis. This may include doctors, caretakers, or teachers. Statements should document how Rett syndrome affects your child’s ability to perform day-to-day activities.
Once you are ready to apply for disability benefits on behalf of your child, you will need to complete two forms—the “Application for Supplemental Security Income” and the “Child Disability Report”. Currently, only the Child disability report can be filled out online. You will need to call the SSA or schedule an appointment with your local Social Security office to complete the application for Supplemental Security Income.
When you prepare to begin the application process, you should be aware that it may not be quick or easy. In fact, many initial applications are denied and require an appeal hearing. It is important that you do not panic if your child’s initial application is denied. You are allowed to appeal the SSA’s decision. The key to being awarded benefits is persistence and preparedness.
For more information about applying for disability benefits, visit Social Security Disability Help or contact Molly Clarke at firstname.lastname@example.org.