By Molly Clarke
Autism, even in high-functioning individuals, can be a debilitating condition. For parents, having a child with autism poses a unique set of challenges. Unfortunately, a common challenge for parents of children with autism is financial instability. Specialty medical care, assistive technology, and educational needs can quickly become expensive.
If you are the parent of child with autism and find that you are having a difficult time making ends meet, you may qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits on your child’s behalf. The following article will provide you with the information needed to collect disability benefits for your son or daughter.
Social Security Disability Benefit Programs
The Social Security Administration provides benefits to disabled individuals through two separate programs—SSDI and SSI.
• SSDI, or Social Security Disability Insurance, is a program that provides financial assistance to disabled workers and their families. Because eligibility for SSDI is determined based on an applicant’s taxes and work history, children and young adults don’t typically qualify for SSDI payments. If a child’s parent or guardian already receives their own SSDI payments, the child may qualify for dependent benefits under his or her parent’s record. For more information about dependent, or auxiliary benefits, click here. (http://www.disability-benefits-help.org/glossary/auxiliary-benefits)
• SSI stands for Supplemental Security Income. This program provides benefits to elderly or disabled individuals who earn very little income. Eligibility for SSI is determined by financial need rather than work history. For this reason, SSI is often the best option for disabled children and young adults. The SSA evaluates an applicant’s income and financial resources to determine eligibility for SSI. In the case of a child, his or her parent’s income will be evaluated. This process is called parental deeming.
If your child is under the age of 18, lives at home, or lives at school but is still subject to parental control, the parent’s income will be subject to the deeming process. Stepparents’ income is also considered here.
Learn more about the technical eligibility for SSI, here
Autism and Social Security Disability Benefits
In addition to meeting the technical eligibility requirements mentioned above, your child will also have to meet specific medical criteria. These criteria are listed in the SSA’s manual of potentially disabling conditions, known as the blue book.
For a child with autism, the SSA requires the following symptoms:
• Deficits in development of reciprocal social interaction
• Deficits in verbal and nonverbal communication
• Deficits in imaginative activity
• A “markedly” restricted repertoire of activities and interests
To read the complete blue book listing, click here
Social Security Disability Application Process
Before you initiate the SSI application process, you will need to collect the necessary medical and financial information to support your child’s claim. Medical documentation should include records of your child’s diagnosis, treatments, and hospitalizations. You should also collect written statements from professional adults that interact with your child on a daily basis. These can be from teachers, coaches, therapists, or doctors and should provide details about your child’s condition and how it interferes with his or her daily life.
Once you are prepared to begin the SSI application, you will be required to complete two different forms—the “Application for SSI” and the “Child Disability Report”. Although the Child Disability Report can be completed online, the applications for SSI cannot. For this reason many parents prefer to schedule an appointment at their local Social Security office to complete both at the same time.
It is important to keep in mind that the Social Security Disability application process can be long and overwhelming. There is always the chance that your child’s application will be denied. If this occurs, you can appeal this decision. The key to being awarded benefits is to remain persistent in your efforts. Once your child’s application is approved you will be able to focus on keeping him or her healthy and happy.
For more information about Social Security Disability benefits, visit Social Security Disability Help
or contact Molly Clarke at firstname.lastname@example.org