What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?
How do you Win Benefits under Social Security Disability or SSI?
If I am determined disabled, how far back will Social Security pay benefits?
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If You Get Approved For SSDI Will You Also Get Medicare?
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Social Security Disability SSI Criteria and the Evaluation Process
How long does it take to be approved for SSI or Social Security disability?
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Answers to questions about SSD and SSI disability
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Social Security Disability Status
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Social Security Disability, SSI Disability - Terms, Definitions, Concepts
How to apply for social security disability SSI benefits for children
How to prove you are disabled
and win disability benefits
Initiating the application process for disability benefits for children (note: minor-age children actually file under title 16, which is the SSI, or supplemental security income, program) is identical to the process used to begin to claims for adults.
Claims are begun in local social security offices where adult claimants, or parents of child claimants, supply all the information that is necessary to process the claim. After the disability application has been taken, it is transferred to a separate agency where it is assigned to a disability examiner. This individual will usually begin the process by requesting the claimants medical records.
In the case of minor-age children, the records requests may involve medical records only, particularly if the child's alleged impairments are only physical in nature. However, in cases where emotional, cognitive, or learning difficulties are alleged, the disability examiner will typically attempt to gather additional records from the child's school.
Children's cases are evaluated differently from adult cases in one basic sense: for adults to qualify for disability benefits, it must be proven that the claimant possesses a severe impairment that renders them unable to engage in substantial gainful work activity, including work they have done in the past and work they might otherwise be considered capable to switching to, for at least one full year; children, on the other hand, may be considered if they have a severe impairment which prevents their ability to engage in age-appropriate activities.
Age-appropriate activities for children, of course, will differ substantially from the normal daily activities of adults. However, because attendance in school--and all the things that correlate with school attendance such as academic performance and social interactions--is such a prominent factor in the life of a child, the social security administration tends to focus heavily on records obtained from a child's school or schools.
Those records include the results of achievement testing, intelligence testing, grade reports, individual education plans. Important records can even include questionaires from a child's teachers since teachers are the chief evaluators and observers of school-age children.
Note: While teacher questionaires provide strong and relevant information regarding a child's abilities to engage in age-appropriate activities, the social security administration, through its disability examiners, does not typically send such questionaires to teachers when cases are processed.
This is similar to the position taken by SSA on residual functional capacity forms for adults which are used internally by SSA-employed physicians but which, oddly enough, are never sent to the actual doctors of a claimant.
Both child and adult claims obviously suffer due to such practices and one can argue that the social security administration does not send such forms to teachers and treating physicians because doing so would tip the scales in the favor of claimants, resulting in more benefits being paid out.
Residual functional capacity forms for adults and teacher questionaires for child claimants are often sent out by disability attorneys and representatives, usually in cases in which the claimant has been denied at the disability application level, again denied at the reconsideration appeal level, and the claimant's case is now positioned for a hearing before a federal disability judge (administrative law judge).
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SSD and SSI are Federal Programs
The title II Social Security Disability and title 16 SSI Disability programs operate under federal guidelines and, therefore, the program requirements--medical and non-medical--apply to all states:
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
Recent approval and denial statistics for various states can be viewed here:
Social Security Disability, SSI Approval and Denial Statistics by state
Special Section: Disability Lawyers and unnecessary claim denials