When you think about disability benefits, you most likely think of adults who have been injured on the job or in an accident that requires government assistance to live. In many cases, you’d be right. According to the United States Census Bureau, one in five adults suffers a disability, half of which are covered by social security. However, adults aren’t the only ones who suffer.
The latest data taken from the National Center for Education Statistics estimates that nearly seven million school-age children in the U.S. are suffering from disabilities. These disabilities range from developmental problems to learning disabilities to specific health issues and can drastically affect the children’s quality of life. Furthermore, these disabilities can become financially draining on caregivers as additional education may be required as well as additional medical care.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides special disability benefits for certain childhood diseases. These benefits are to be used to help the disabled child live a better life and to help caregivers supplement their income in order to provide more for the child. However, just as it puts limitations on adult disabilities, the SSA has certain requirements for approving childhood disabilities as well.
Childhood Conditions Covered by Social Security Disability
In order to successfully pursue a disability claim on behalf of your child, it is important for you to know whether his condition can even qualify for benefits. Most of the covered conditions for children are similar to the adult listings, but the level of severity required may be lower. Childhood conditions that are eligible for Social Security Disability benefits include the following:
- Low birth weight and growth impairments. If an infant is born severely underweight and remains underweight up until the age of 12 months, he may be eligible for disability benefits as a low weight can cause severe health risks. Additionally, if a child remains below average in his weight class up until the age of three, he too may be eligible for benefits.
- Musculoskeletal disorders. If an impairment interferes very seriously with the child’s ability to independently initiate, sustain, or complete activities, he may be eligible for disability.
- Special senses and speech impairments. If abnormalities of the eye or brain cause a loss of visual acuity or if a condition affects the ear drum or ear canal causing severe hearing loss, then the condition may be covered by disability.
- Respiratory ailments. If an ailment such as severe asthma or chronic pneumonia affects a child’s ability to breathe or severely impairs lung function, the condition will most likely be eligible for benefits.
- Cardiac and vascular system disorders. Conditions that may affect the proper function of the heart or vascular system, causing increased risk for heart palpitations and failure may be covered.
- Digestive system disorders. If a condition such as irritable bowel syndrome severally affects the function of the intestines or stomach, the SSA may rule that the child should receive benefits.
- Endocrine system disorders. Conditions that attack the endocrine system and create hormonal imbalances can create complications throughout the body and make it difficult for a child to properly function. Therefore severe endocrine disorders are usually covered by disability.
- Immune system disorders. Conditions that attack the immune system make it difficult for a child to fight off infections and can be deadly. As such the SSA considers severe immune deficiencies as justifiable conditions for disability.
- Skin disorders. Disorders akin to psoriasis, chronic infections, and eczema that attack skin cells and create risk for infection are considered eligible for disability benefits.
- Genitourinary disorders. Disorders that may result in chronic kidney failure and disease such as hypertensive nephropathy and diabetic nephropathy, are considered severe enough to be covered.
- Hematological disorders. Disorders of the blood that disrupt the normal development and function of white blood cells, red blood cells, platelets, and clotting-factor proteins are considered for disability. These disorders include sickle cell disease, anemia, and leukemia.
- Congenital disorders. Any physical or mental disorder that has been present since birth, affects multiple body systems, and limits the child’s ability to function in society may be evaluated for eligibility. Examples include non-mosaic Down Syndrome and heart defects.
- Neurological and mental disorders. Any type of mental condition, whether congenital or caused by injury, that affects a child’s ability to develop cognitively or handle social stresses may be subject to SSA evaluation for disability.
- Cancer. Although evaluation of severity will still need to be completed, most types of malignant cancers are eligible for disability benefit consideration.
For more information on whether your child’s condition qualifies for disability benefits, visit our educational blogs or contact us for a free consultation. We want to make sure that your child has the financial support he needs to be prepared for the future. Let us use our knowledge and experience to help your family. Make an appointment today to help your child live a better life.