Social Security Disability Benefits

Down Syndrome and Social Security Disability Benefits
Parents of children with Down syndrome often face numerous obstacles in the daily care of their children. Prominent amongst these challenges are the increased expenses that accompany caring for a child with DS. Oftentimes, they require increased levels of support in many aspects of their lives. Although individuals with DS may be able to secure and maintain employment as they get older, they will often continue to require supportive care and assistance throughout their entire lives. This can pose a significant financial burden to both the individual with DS and their family. Fortunately, the Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes this financial burden and offers Social Security Disability benefits to eligible children and adults who have DS. It is important to note that adult and child applicants have different rules and requirements. The following tabs provide information about applying for disability benefits on behalf of children under the age of 18. The SSA provides two different programs through which your child may be able to receive benefits. These programs are Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

For more information visit Social Security Disability Help (http://www.disability-benefits-help.org/blog) or contact Molly Clarke at mac@ssd-help.org.

Social Security Disability Insurance
SSDI is intended to provide benefits to disabled workers and their eligible family members. Eligibility for this program is based on the amount of Social Security taxes an applicant has contributed throughout their career. Due to a lack of employment history, children usually don't qualify for this program. However, if a parent or guardian of the child is already receiving SSDI benefits, the child may qualify under the parent's record. Children over the age of 18 (adult children), who were diagnosed with Down syndrome under the age of 22, may also qualify for SSDI benefits under a parent's record. To learn more about SSDI dependent benefits, visit the following page: http://www.disability-benefits-help.org/glossary/auxiliary-benefits.

Supplemental Security Income
The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program is typically better suited to serve the needs of children with Down syndrome. This program was created to provide benefits to disabled individuals of all ages who have very little income and financial assets. SSI does not have any age or work requirements and is generally a better option for children. Because most children have no income or financial resources, the SSA evaluates household income in order to determine a child's eligibility. SSI eligibility requirements state that family income cannot exceed the Federal Benefit Rate. The 2013 Federal Benefit Rate is $710 a month for an individual and $1,066 a month for a couple. The following forms of income do not count towards this limit:

  • Welfare payments
  • Public Income Maintenance (PIM)
  • Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF)
  • VA pension for veterans
  • Foster care payments
  • Food stamps
  • Disaster assistance
  • Building or land tax refunds

The SSA subtracts $356 from the household income considered for each additional child supported by that household. These allowances are not made for children or adults already earning public assistance.
To learn more about SSI financial requirements, visit the following page: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/ssi/text-child-ussi.htm.

Medical Qualifications
In addition to the previously mentioned technical requirements, children applying for disability benefits must also meet specific medical requirements. In order to determine an applicant's eligibility, the SSA consults the official manual of disabling conditions and medical criteria. This manual is often referred to as the blue book. Down syndrome is covered in section 110.6 of the blue book. This listing states that persons with non-mosaic Down syndrome automatically meet the SSA's standards of disability. The SSA considers children with non-mosaic Down syndrome to be disabled from birth. It is important to note that parents must provide the appropriate medical proof of Down syndrome in order to meet this listing. Children with mosaic Down syndrome do not automatically qualify as disabled due to the wide variety of impairments associated with this strain of the syndrome. The SSA requires that applicants with mosaic Down syndrome verify their limited physical or mental disabilities through medical documentation. The applicant is then evaluated based on whatever physical or mental disabilities he or she has. To view the complete blue book listing for Down syndrome, visit the following webpage: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/110.00-MultipleBody-Childhood.htm#110_06.

Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits
To inquire about SSDI dependent benefits, contact the SSA representative who handles the eligible parent's claim. He or she will be able to give you instructions as to how you should proceed.
To apply for Supplemental Security Income, you will be required to attend an interview and complete the following two forms

  1. Application for Supplemental Security Income
  2. Child Disability Report

The first form can be completed online, however many parents find it easier to complete both forms at the time of the scheduled interview. It is important that you call the SSA to schedule your child's interview as soon as possible. This is because there may not be an available appointment for several months. While you are waiting to attend your interview, you should use the time to collect all required medical and non-medical documentation to support your claim. You can find a list of all necessary documents, here: http://www.ssa.gov/disability/Documents/Checklist%20-%20Child.pdf. Once you have submitted an application on behalf of your child, patience is critical. It may be months before an individual receives a decision concerning their claim. Within this time frame the SSA may contact you for additional information. Be sure to respond to these requests promptly in order to avoid any further delays in the approval process. While you wait, it is important to prepare yourself to face the possibility of denial. If your child's claim is in fact denied, you will have 60 days in which to appeal this decision. If you remain persistent in your efforts, you will increase your child's chance of approval. Disability benefits will shoulder some of your financial burden and allow you to focus on the care of your child.

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