Applying for Mental Disability Benefits: The Basics
Parents with children who are mentally disabled have a great deal to contend with, and money is unfortunately at the top of the list. Raising a mentally disabled child normally brings with it trips to doctors, educational specialists, and counselors. Although there are a fortunate few who have the financial means to support a child with a mental disability, many of us are not so lucky.
The Social Security Administration offers disability benefits to children with severe mental disabilities, but they do not make them easy to get. The standards are incredibly rigid, and each application is scrutinized with great care.
There are some basic steps you can take to increase your chances of a successful application.
Severity Counts for Everything: Having a child that is diagnosed as mentally retarded, autistic, suffering from depression, or any other mental disorder is not enough to automatically qualify you for benefits. What matters is the level of severity of the condition. In other words, what does your child’s condition keep him or her from doing that other children can do? Does the condition keep the child from functioning?
Keep All of Your Medical Records: The Social Security Administration (SSA) will want to see them, and they will go over them with a fine tooth comb. The SSA will want all records of treatment and evaluation from doctors, counselors, specialists, and psychiatrists going back one year from the date of your application. They will formally request these records from the places of treatment themselves, but you can speed up the process by gathering and delivering the records yourself.
Keep All of Your School Records: If your child attends school, the SSA will want copies of your child’s school records. This is another way for them to find out how severe your child’s condition is. The Social Security Administration will want copies of all existing records such as grade reports, attendance records, standardized testing, and psychological testing. What they will be looking for is evidence that the severity of the condition is keeping the child from functioning. If your child has problems at home but can do even menial tasks at school, that could keep your application from being accepted.
The Social Security Administration will send the school a form for your child’s teacher or counselor to fill out about how well your child is functioning. Making sure that the form is returned quickly will help speed up the process.
Expect an Examination: The SSA will pay for a series of examinations that will focus on mental status and intellectual functions. An intelligence test will probably occur if your child has not been tested in the past two years.
The tests that are offered vary from age group to age group. If your child is between the ages of 3 and 18, they will be testing to see if your child has the ability of take care of him or herself. (This means grooming, feeding, avoiding dangers, etc.)
Watch for Inconsistencies:The SSA will also give you a form to fill out where you will be expected to fully describe the limitations that your child experiences on a daily basis. This is a very important document, so by no means should you rush through it.
The SSA is looking for differences between your testimony and what the records show. For instance, if your child exhibits unmanageable behavior at home but the school records don’t reflect that, that would be grounds for rejection. If your child is in his teenage years and has even the most menial of jobs, that would go against the claim that the child is unable to support him or herself.
They will also compare any tests that you have against their own. This is why any intelligence tests need to be as recent as possible.
Any application for benefits with the Social Security Administration can be a trying and arduous affair. The odds of getting through this ordeal with a successful result improve tremendously if you have the assistance of an attorney that specializes in disability benefit applications.
In Florida, that’s The Law Offices of Nancy L. Cavey.
We have built our practice on helping our disabled and injured clients successfully get through the application process. We know how the system works, and apply our knowledge and skill on behalf of our clients on a daily basis.
If you or a loved one need assistance in a disability benefits application, contact our offices for a free legal application today.
Answering these broad-based questions isn't easy. Help is a phone call away. You can contact Nancy Cavey, an experienced long-term disability attorney at 727-894-3188.