Sunday, July 27, 2014

Kids Eligible for Social Security Benefits?

Children with disabilities and their parents have a long, hard road ahead of them. A major portion of that torturous journey will include contending with the enormous medical bills that may pile up along the way. Without any help, these children will not have the quality of life we Americans believe is due them, especially since we value life so highly.

But the right to receive much help for these children's treatment and various therapies they require was never a part of our culture really. In fact, it seemed as though the children had no right to benefits until one brave family, the Zebleys, decided to take their child's case all the way to the Supreme Court. After having been denied benefits in lower courts, the family's attorneys decided it was time for a higher hearing. Their contention was that, although a child doesn't go out to work and earn an income, a child does "work" in that their job is to go to school and participate in all the activities available for gaining an education.  The case hinged on discriminatory practices toward disabled children as the Social Security rules were then applied.

The book,  "A Social Security Disability Psychological Claims Guidebook for Children's Benefits," lays out some of the details of that case as follows:

"A comprehensive review of the 1990 United States Supreme Court decision (110 S. Ct. 885), Sullivan v. Zebley is on the Internet and anyone who is advocating for a child’s Social Security Disability (SSI) benefits may wish to review the case and its ramifications.

"Until an appeal was made to the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS) regarding the discrepancy between adult and children’s determinations for disability benefits, children were being denied or benefits were terminated. The United States Supreme Court, by a margin of 7 to 2, determined that the Social Security regulations were too restrictive in deciding eligibility for benefits based on the current standard utilized in determining an individual child's functional impairment. This case came to be known as the Sullivan v Zebley case or, simply, The Zebley Case, and on February 20, 1990 the United States Supreme Court rendered its decision in the case." Children were to be evaluated for benefits based on functional impairment.

After the decision, all prior claims for children's benefits were to be re-reviewed and a new determination made. It was the beginning of a new era of equality for these children and their parents and today help with treatment is available for them. There are, however, certain requirements and it is here that some guidance is needed. Although the child may have a disability, specifically a psychological problem possibly with hyperactivity, learning disability, mood disorder, etc., the claim must contain appropriate supporting evidence.

What evidence is needed in order to initiate a substantial claim? The items needed include:

  1. a history of the specific disorder with supporting documents
  2. a detailed report from an appropriate medical professional (usually an MD or licensed psychologist)
  3. detailed reports from teachers, counselors or others who have direct contact with the child

In some cases, the determination may be protracted because of lack of sufficient evidence, but there are additional resources for the claim. For one thing, the parents do not necessarily need to have an attorney on their case. Help is as close as the nearest office of their Congressional representative or senator and a call or a letter from that office carries significant weight in moving a case along. The case, in fact, is then known as a "sensitive inquiry." This does not insure benefits will be granted, but it can be helpful.

This book details the steps to be taken, the manner in which the system evaluates materials and what must be included in addition to important contacts for political, medical and licensing authorities. It is available in both ebook and paperback form.