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Parents of disabled children may seek SSI benefits

Part of the Social Security system is the Supplemental Security Income childhood disability program. Under this program, low-income families with disabled children are able to receive monthly checks. This money can go toward things like therapy and expenses not covered by Medicaid. However, while some news reports may make it seem like everyone who applies ends up receiving SSI, the truth is only a small percentage of those families with children who have disabilities end up qualifying for the federal program. 

One family, who is financially struggling with plans to go to federal court in yet another attempt to receive SSI, recently shared their story. 

In this family's case, their 2-year-old daughter has a rare condition known as Klumpke's palsy. Basically, she has a paralyzed left arm that was caused by a birth injury. In her case, during delivery, the family claims she became stuck in the birth canal and was forcefully pulled out, which led to nerve damage. 

Having a paralyzed left arm proves challenging as there are not only the medical bills, but she has issues with balance and range of motion. She cannot get changed on her own, cannot climb stairs by herself and is having potty-training issues. Her mother said she is also now having temper tantrums due to her frustration.

In this family's case, while the mother works 50 hours a week at two different jobs, the father was just laid off, and their family income is at $17,000, which is well below the poverty level. 

However, even though their daughter has a documented disability, and the three are living well below the poverty level, for some reason they have still been denied SSI benefits. This is why they have plans to go to federal court to try and obtain this needed disability benefit.

It is important to note this family is also just one of the many who financially struggle with a disabled child. In fact, the deputy director of government affairs for the National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives, said less than 25 percent of children with disabilities end up receiving SSI.

Of course the hope is the system will change in order to better serve those with disabilities. However, one should still not assume their case is a lost cause. Rather, even after a denial, talk with an attorney who has experience handling SSI cases. 

Source: Philly.com, “Disability of 2-year-old raises questions on federal aid programs,” Alfred Lubrano, Nov. 5, 2013

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