When it comes to securing and maintaining benefits for a disabled child, stepping into your local Atlanta Social Security office can seem daunting.
After all, any parent, caregiver, or representative recognizes the importance of getting it right when it comes to a child’s wellbeing. Caring for a disabled child comes with its own unique challenges, including navigating your options for securing Social Security benefits.
First, it’s important for you to know that you’re not alone.
According to the Social Security Administration’s Office of Policy:
The Social Security system provides an important source of support to many children. Currently, just over 3 million children under the age of 18 receive Social Security benefits, accounting for 6.5 percent of all individuals receiving Social Security and $1.2 billion in monthly benefit payment. In addition, over 2 million children who do not receive benefits themselves live in the family of a beneficiary.
Many caregivers rely on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits to provide disabled children with food, shelter, and medicine, among other needs.
Thus, it’s crucial to know your options as you move through the process of filing a claim and, in the event your claim is initially denied, possible appeals and hearings.
There are also additional challenges when managing current benefits, such as:
- When your child’s condition may improve
- When your child approaches the cut-off age
Consulting with the right Atlanta Social Security attorney can help you through these challenges. As attorneys who’ve practiced disability law for nearly 40 years, Affleck & Gordon are able to guide you to a positive outcome regarding your child’s benefits.
Let’s take a closer look at Social Security options for disabled children in Atlanta.
Does My Disabled Child Qualify for SSI?
A disability is defined as a condition that inhibits a child’s activities and ability to care for themselves. Normally a child qualifies for SSI benefits if they:
- are under 18 years of age (or 22 years of age, if still attending junior high or high school)
- are expected to have a disability for at least 12 months or until death
- meet a listing or meet various domains of functioning, as defined by the SSA
Household income is also used to determine how much benefits a child can receive. It’s important to examine all the various factors laid out by the SSA.
What Happens if My Child’s Condition Improves?
If your child is not suffering a permanent disability, and their condition is expected to improve over time with proper care, the SSA will conduct a continuing disability review. However, the SSA may conduct these reviews even if your child’s condition is not expected to improve.
According to the SSA, they will conduct these reviews at least once every three years. For those with permanent disabilities, the reviews may be conducted once every seven years or so.
This can lead to a potential change in your child’s SSI status, if it’s determined that they no longer meet the criteria to receive benefits.
If this occurs, you can appeal through a multi-stage process, which can potentially include multiple hearings.
SSI benefits also may be connected to your child’s ability to receive Medicaid benefits, and a loss of these benefits can also be appealed through Georgia’s state Medicaid agency.
If your household income is simply too high for Medicaid, but also too low to afford private insurance, consider applying for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).
While you can go the appeals process alone, an experienced disability attorney can act as your advocate and prepare you with the best possible strategy to traverse the appeals process.
My Child Is Turning 18. How Will This Affect Their Benefits?
The cutoff age for SSI benefits may differ for your child. Typically it is at 18 years of age, though if your child is still in middle or high school, that cutoff age can go up to 22 years of age.
The SSA will send a notice three months before benefits are ended. If a disabled child is still a pre-college student beyond that point, they must complete a statement of attendance certified by a school official.
Your child may also receive SSI benefits beyond the age of 18, if the child’s disability began before the age of 22.
If your child’s disability remains beyond childhood, they can also switch from SSI by applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.
They will have to undergo the SSA’s evaluation process for adult disabilities.
How Can My Atlanta Social Security Office Help?
Sometimes it can be immensely helpful to step into an Atlanta Social Security office and speak in person with a representative. Representatives are trained to quickly process your claim or discuss relevant issues regarding your child’s benefits. You can also contact them via phone.
You may also contact your local Social Security office to handle issues such as address changes, changes to direct deposit, changes to parent’s benefits or living arrangements, and issues regarding Social Security numbers.
To make an appointment, call (800) 772-1213 or for TDD, (800) 325-0778.
You may also want to look outside the Social Security office for help navigating your child’s needs. The Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities offers some resources.
What about Hiring an SSI Lawyer in Atlanta?
The right disability attorney will have experience and expertise in SSI law, and be current on the most recent legal expectations. They will understand the expectations when communicating with the SSA and guiding you through potential subsequent appeals.
Consulting a knowledgeable SSI lawyer, familiar with both local court processes and national Social Security law, can give your child the best chance of winning or maintaining their benefits.
If you’re filing for Social Security benefits for your disabled child, or need guidance maintaining current benefits, Affleck and Gordon can help. We’ve been helping people in Georgia just like you for over 40 years. Sign up for a free case evaluation, or call us (404) 600-0164.