Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is most commonly recognized as being a federal aid program for adults with disabilities. However, it is also possible for children to receive benefits under the program. Applying for benefits on behalf of a child can be difficult, so if you have questions about filing a claim for your own child, it is critical to speak to an experienced Social Security disability lawyer who can address your concerns.
Filing an SSDI Application
A child may be eligible to receive Social Security benefits if he or she was diagnosed with a covered condition or a condition that is expected to last for at least one year or to end in death. He or she will also need to establish that the disability prevents him or her from being able to work. As long as a child became disabled before the age of 22, he or she will continue to receive SSDI child benefits until he or she is able to work.
Additionally, the child must also have a parent who is either:
- Retired or disabled and also eligible to receive federal aid; or
- Deceased, but was eligible for benefits.
The amount that a child is able to receive depends on his or her parent’s earnings record. After two years of receiving benefits, a child will become eligible to receive Medicare coverage.
Applying for Social Security Income
Children can also apply for aid through the Social Security Income (SSI) program, which requires potential candidates to submit an application and a child disability report. The Social Security Administration also requires child applicants to satisfy a strict definition of disability, which only includes:
- Physical or mental conditions that seriously limit his or her activities; and
- Conditions that have lasted, or are expected to last one year or to result in death.
The North Carolina Disability Determination Services then reviews the evidence provided in the child’s Disability Report when making a decision. This evidence must include:
- The child’s full name, Social Security Number, and date of birth;
- The applicant’s contact information;
- The contact information of another person who knows about the child’s condition;
- A description of the condition, including when it began and how it limits daily activities;
- The names, addresses, and telephone numbers for all educational facilities that the child has attended in the last year;
- The kinds of learning or behavioral tests that the child has taken and when they were administered;
- If the child worked, a description of his or her last job;
- The contact information for all doctors, clinics, and hospitals that have examined or treated the child for his or her condition, including the dates and reasons for the visits;
- The names of any medical tests undergone by the child, including information about when and where they were administered and who ordered them;
- The names of all prescription medications being taken by the child as well as the name of the doctor who prescribed them; and
- The names of all non-prescription medications taken by the child.
After reviewing a child’s application and disability report, the SSI agency will determine whether the condition qualifies as a disability. If they require more information to make a decision, the agency will arrange for additional tests, the cost of which is covered by the state.
The child may also be required to undergo an interview, which requires the submission of additional information, including:
- The child’s height and weight;
- Contact information for another adult who helps care for the child;
- The names of the child’s current teachers;
- The names of any physical, speech, or occupational therapists who meet with the child at school;
- All medical tests that the child has had or will have for his or her condition, including hearings and vision tests, IQ testing, blood and breathing tests, and x-rays;
- The contact information of social service programs and caseworkers that have worked with the child;
- An original copy of the child’s birth certificate or proof of citizenship;
- The names and Social Security Numbers of all members of the child’s household;
- Proof of current income for both the child and all family members living in the household, including pay stubs, child support, unemployment benefits, and tax returns; and
- Proof of a child’s resources, including bank account statements, stocks or bonds, and life insurance policies.
Once a child turns 18 years old or gets married, he or she is no longer eligible for SSI benefits and will be evaluated based on SSDI standards for adults.
Request for Reconsideration
Unfortunately, many valid claims for SSI are initially denied. North Carolina residents, however, have the option of filing a request for reconsideration, in which a disability examiner will review the previously submitted information. For this reason, reconsideration determinations are usually issued within one month to six weeks, which is much quicker than decisions at the application level, which can take up to six months. During the appeal, the examiner will address any new medical information and assess whether there was a substantial error in the earlier decision making process. These appeals must be filed within two months of the date of the initial denial letter.
If a claim is once again denied, an applicant can request a disability hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) within 60 days of receiving the second denial. These hearings are usually held at the local Office of Disability Adjudication and Review. At these hearings, judges will review previously submitted testimony and are permitted to question witnesses, including medical and vocational experts. After hearing the evidence, the judge will issue a ruling.
If a claim is denied at the hearing level, a claimant can file an appeal with the Social Security’s Appeals Council. However, the Council is not required to hear a case and if it deems that a decision was correct, may deny a claim. If accepted, the Council will either review the case itself or turn it over to another ALJ. If the Council decides not to review a case or denies the appeal, a claimant can file a suit in federal district court.
Contact an Experienced Charlotte SSDI Attorney Today
If you live in Charlotte and have a disabled child, please contact the law firm of Ted A. Greve & Associates, P.A. by completing one of our online contact forms and we will help you set up a free consultation with an experienced SSDI lawyer in Charlotte, NC who can help explain your legal options.