There are few things that are more distressing to a parent than seeing their child in pain or struggling with a serious medical condition. While children are not typically eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits because they have no work record, they can qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits instead. However, children can also potentially qualify for SSDI on their parent’s word record, opening access to better benefits. Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, is a Fayetteville, AR children’s disability lawyer, and here, he explains how you might be able to get disability coverage for your child’s seizures in Arkansas
Can Children Receive SSDI Disability Benefits for Seizures in Arkansas?
The two programs administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) for disability are designed to cover different groups of people. SSDI works like a traditional disability insurance program: people pay into the fund in order to get coverage if and when they need it. SSDI is funded by contributions from workers’ Social Security taxes, so people who have a work history and have worked recently can qualify for SSDI benefits in Arkansas. SSI is a need-based program that anyone else who needs disability coverage but does not have a work history can apply to. However, there is a special exception where children can apply for SSDI on a parent’s record instead.
If you are a parent of a child who became disabled before turning 22, they should be able to qualify for SSDI on your work record if you would qualify under the non-medical requirements for benefits. For children under 18, this often has simplified standards, helping them get benefits. Generally speaking, if you have worked your whole adult life, then SSDI should be available to you. A lawyer can go over “work credit” requirements with you and determine whether your record meets the proper standards the SSA requires. If you do qualify, then your child should be able to qualify if they can meet the medical standards and severity requirements for SSDI benefits.
If your work record cannot support your child’s SSDI application, then it is possible your child could get benefits under SSI instead. In some cases, the benefits under SSDI are better than the benefits under SSDI, so our attorneys often work to do everything they can to get our clients and their children SSDI benefits. In some cases, SSI might also help your family get benefits for a child’s disabilities as a stopgap measure during waiting periods for SSDI benefits.
The Social Security Administration’s Medical Definition of Seizure-Related Conditions for Children
If you satisfy the first step of the qualification process, your child’s medical condition will be evaluated by the SSA to see if it is on the list of conditions that qualify for disability benefits in Arkansas. The SSA lists a number of disabilities with separate listings for adult disabilities and childhood disabilities. Families applying for disability coverage for their kids often need medical documentation and statements from doctors showing that the child has a medical condition in order for them to get SSDI benefits. The condition must also qualify as “severe” for disability coverage. Simply having a condition often is not enough to get disability benefits unless you can prove to the SSA that it interferes with daily activities, abilities, and skills. A Fayetteville, AR disability lawyer can help you apply and make sure that your child’s limitations and the severity of their condition are properly explained to the SSA to help avoid rejection. We can also appeal any denials for reconsideration or review.
SSA Listings for Epilepsy
The SSA lists many different childhood illnesses and health conditions that qualify as disabilities under appropriate circumstances. Among these listings is a category of neurological disorders and impairments, which includes a listing specifically for epilepsy. This is the most common way that children’s seizures are diagnosed, and a childhood diagnosis of epilepsy can help your child get disability benefits.
Under Listing 111.02 for Epilepsy, your child can qualify if they have generalized tonic-clonic seizures, dyscognitive seizures, or absence seizures. If the generalized tonic-clonic seizures happen at least once a month over the course of 3 months, that should qualify. For either of the other types of seizures, the child should qualify if they have seizures at least once a week for 3 months. In either case, you need to show that the seizures still occur even though your child is following their doctor’s prescribed treatment in order to meet the SSA’s definition of epilepsy.
Other Seizure-Related Disability Listings
There are other potential conditions that could have seizures as a symptom, or your child’s seizures could be caused by a neurological disorder or other health condition that is not on the SSA’s list of approved disabilities. This does not automatically mean your child cannot qualify, and the agency can instead look to your child’s day-to-day activities when determining whether their condition is at least as severe as another listing. Your child’s functioning will be assessed across 6 domains:
- Acquiring and using information
- Interacting and relating with others
- Attending to and completing tasks
- Mobility and ability to manipulate objects
- Caring for one’s self
- Maintaining one’s health and physical well-being
If the SSA determines that your child has a marked deficiency in two of these domains or an extreme deficiency in one domain, your child should qualify for disability benefits. A marked limitation is one that “interferes seriously with the child’s ability to independently initiate, sustain, or complete activities.” An extreme limitation would be an even greater impairment of these abilities.
As part of determining whether your child is “disabled,” the SSA will try to determine whether your child’s impairment or combination of impairments is considered “severe.” A severe impairment will cause functional limitations in the child’s life. In adults, severity is usually determined by the applicant’s inability to work, but since children do not work, other faculties and abilities will be assessed. If the SSA determines that your child’s seizure condition is severe, your child should be able to qualify for disability benefits.
What Happens When Children on Disability for Epilepsy Turn 18?
When your child turns 18, a new set of non-medical requirements and a new evaluation of medical issues come into play. The SSA uses child listings to determine whether a child under 18 is disabled, but for adult children to get disability benefits, they have to qualify under the adult listing for their condition. Generally speaking, these standards are a bit stricter and often deal with “severity” in terms of inability to work rather than difficulty focusing or learning or other areas of faculties important for a child.
In many cases, a child can apply for disability and qualify based on their parent’s record, even if they are already 18 years old. As long as an adult child is disabled before turning 22, they should still be able to claim benefits on their parent’s record instead of their own. For people disabled since childhood, this can often be important if they never worked and would not have their own work record to qualify for SSDI. Unfortunately, this often means that they have to stay under their parent’s disability and financial support in order to keep their benefits. Things like taking a job to support yourself or getting married might end your child’s benefits because people who are able to work are often not considered “disabled,” and if your child can apply on a spouse’s disability record instead of a parent’s record, the SSA might end their benefits and have them reapply.
Talk to a lawyer when planning for a child’s disability benefits. Many neurological disorders become more manageable as the child gets older, potentially allowing them to come off of disability in adulthood. However, seizure disorders like epilepsy can often limit a person’s ability to care for themselves or safely perform daily tasks like driving through their teenage years and throughout the rest of their adult life. Our Harris, AR disability lawyer can help you determine how to keep disability benefits for your child as they transition into adulthood.
Call Our Disability Lawyer for Help Getting SSDI for Your Child’s Seizures or Epilepsy
If you have questions regarding Social Security benefits, Fayetteville AR disability lawyer Ken Kieklak can provide clear, straight-forward answers. Regardless of whether your child has a seizure disorder like epilepsy or another type of seizure-related impairment, Social Security Disability lawyer Ken Kieklak can fight for you. To schedule your free and confidential legal consultation, call us at (479) 316-0438.
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