As Social Security disability attorneys, we often represent clients trying to get Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. However, many people don’t realize that children can qualify for SSDI benefits also. When a disability lawyer handles a child’s SSDI case, almost anything can happen.
According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), a child is a person who is:
- neither married (as determined by Social Security) nor head of a household; and
- under age 18; or is under age 22 and is a student regularly attending school (as determined by Social Security).
A child must be either blind or disabled to receive SSI benefits. The child has a medically determinable physical or mental impairment or impairments (including emotional or learning problems) which result in marked and severe functional limitations; and the impairment(s) has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months or be expected to result in death; or if the child is blind, he or she meets the requirement for SSI disability benefits, there is no duration requirement for SSI blindness benefits.
Examining the Whole Child
At a disability hearing, the administrative law judge (ALJ) may evaluate the effects of a child’s impairment by rating the degree to which the impairment limits functioning in six domains:
- Acquiring and using information,
- Attending and completing tasks,
- Interacting and relating with others,
- Moving about and manipulating objects,
- Caring for yourself, and
- Health and physical well-being.
An impairment must be of listing-level severity. In other words, it must result in “marked” limitations in two domains of functioning or an “extreme” limitation in one domain.
Depending on a child’s age, some judges require the child to be present to testify at the hearing. Other judges may just request that one parent be present to testify instead. The Notice of Hearing states whether or not the ALJ requires that the child be present.
During questioning, a child’s disability lawyer can help the child remain focused. Sometimes, reassurance is necessary. Having a disability lawyer assist with preparation beforehand is important because children like to bring up surprise information. Children naturally want to appear in the best light possible to the judge. It’s the child’s disability attorney’s job to explain that they need to be honest with the judge about the difficulties they have in school and with friends and family.
Your Child’s Disability Case Needs a Disability Lawyer
If you have any questions about a Social Security claim, contact a disability attorney at any of our offices across Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Illinois. Call (618) 266-4038 or submit the Contact Form on our website for a free consultation.