Can I Get Disability Benefits for Cerebral Palsy (CP) in Arkansas?

People with serious injuries and disabilities can often get benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA) to help pay for their day-to-day expenses, healthcare, housing, and other needs.  If you are disabled because of your cerebral palsy and you cannot work, you may be wondering whether you qualify for disability.  Similarly, many parents with children who have cerebral palsy wonder whether they can get benefits for their child.  Fortunately, CP is a condition that the SSA recognizes and often pays disability benefits for.  Fayetteville, AR disability benefits lawyer Ken Kieklak explains how to get these benefits and how you may be able to qualify for disability payments for cerebral palsy in Arkansas.

How to Qualify for SSDI Benefits in Arkansas for CP

SSDI is one of the main forms of disability that people file for.  This type of Social Security Disability is paid to workers who can no longer continue working because of a disability and who have a record of paying their Social Security taxes from work.  If you have not worked or are seeking benefits for your child, disabled individuals can often seek benefits through a parent or spouse’s record.  If no other SSDI benefits are available, you might be able to file for SSDI instead. Our Farmington, AR disability attorney can explain how SSDI and SSI are different in Arkansas.

In order to get any disability benefits for a serious medical condition like cerebral palsy, you must have a severe injury that keeps you from working.  You also must meet the SSA’s medical definition of cerebral palsy to get benefits.

What is the Medical Definition of Cerebral Palsy for Social Security Disability in Arkansas?

If you or your child has diagnosed cerebral palsy, that alone does not necessarily mean you can get disability benefits for your child.  While cerebral palsy is always a disability, it does not necessarily meet the SSA’s definition of a qualifying disability unless your CP is very severe.  Many people diagnosed with cerebral palsy are still able to work and provide for themselves.  However, those whose cerebral palsy meets the SSA’s definition could qualify for benefits.

Doctors usually diagnose cerebral palsy based on symptoms like motor control issues, trouble walking, and other physical issues.  This disorder can also be confirmed with brain scans and other testing.  It is also usually diagnosed when someone is a baby.  Cerebral palsy symptoms can often get worse for people over their lifetime, eventually leading them to seek disability benefits.

For adults seeking disability benefits, the SSA’s standards are more strict than the general medical standards for diagnosing cerebral palsy.  To qualify, you must have “disorganization of motor function” in at least two extremities and an “extreme limitation” when it comes to standing up, balancing while walking, or using your upper body.  Alternatively, a physical “marked limitation” and mental/interactional limitations (such as memory issues, concentration issues, or trouble caring for yourself) also qualify.  Lastly, you can instead meet the SSA’s medical definition if you have serious speech, hearing, or vision limitations because of your CP.

Additionally, even if you technically meet these standards, the condition must also be severe enough that it keeps you from working to support yourself.

For children with cerebral palsy, the medical definition is the same as the first option for an adult diagnosis: “disorganization of motor function” for two limbs and “extreme limitation” when sitting, walking, or using your upper body. Our Fayetteville, AR children’s disability attorney can help you navigate getting benefits for your child’s cerebral palsy diagnosis.

Can You Work with Cerebral Palsy and Still Get Disability Benefits in Arkansas?

Many people with cerebral palsy want to work, but the Social Security Administration’s rules and regulations might keep them from doing so.  Generally speaking, the SSA only pays disability benefits to people who cannot work because of their disability, but these rules are more complex than that.

People can often work while on disability as long as they do not make more than a certain level of income.  This is known as the “substantial gainful activity” (SGA) limit, and it is generally set based on how much money the SSA thinks is enough to support yourself with.  If you can work and earn this much money, the SSA assumes you are not “disabled” by their standards.

If you have a side-job or work a few hours a week, this often does not meet the SGA limit and might be permitted.  However, you should always check with a lawyer when working while on disability.  There may also be opportunities to do a “trial work period” that allows you to make more money, but these periods also have difficult rules.

For 2020, the SGA limit is $1,260 per month, and if you are blind, the limit is $2,110.  This means that if you make more than this much money each month, you might lose your benefits.  Usually, you are required to report your income to the SSA, so they will know if you meet or exceed this limit.

Getting Disability for a Child with Cerebral Palsy in Arkansas

Since most people are diagnosed with cerebral palsy when they are children, getting disability benefits for a child is usually the first step in covering a person with cerebral palsy.  Children can often get SSDI based on their parent’s work record as long as they otherwise qualify for disability.  As they grow up, this can become difficult because they will need to stay under their parent’s disability coverage.  If a child gets married while on disability under their parent’s record, they will often lose their benefits or be required to get SSDI on their spouse’s record instead.  Talk to a lawyer about the best way to get this coverage for your child and to maintain coverage as they grow up.

Arkansas Lawyer for Disability Benefits with Cerebral Palsy

If you or a child has cerebral palsy and needs disability benefits, contact a lawyer to help you through the Arkansas disability benefits application process.  Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, represents individuals with disabilities like cerebral palsy and fights to get them the coverage they need.  For a free case consultation, contact our lawyer at (479) 316-0438.