How People with Cerebral Palsy Can Qualify for Social Security

cerebral palsy reflex testing

by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jilleanne Buda via: Wikipedia

Cerebral palsy is not a disease—it is a neurological disorder (really a group of disorders) that we’re just beginning to understand. The medical community has found that cerebral palsy most often develops before birth. Somehow, the brain is damaged and keeps neurons from firing correctly throughout life. Cerebral palsy often results in a lack of coordination, seizures, an inability to use one’s legs, and sometimes a reduced IQ. While cerebral palsy doesn’t progress as time passes, we still haven’t found a cure.

Creating More Awareness

March is Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month and the 25th of the month is Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day. At Summit Disability Law Group, we want to take a little time to recognize those that are struggling to overcome this disability. Researchers are making great progress on learning how to prevent severe cerebral palsy. This is largely thanks to individuals and groups affected by cerebral palsy uniting and creating organizations to raise awareness and support.

As a law group, we want to make sure that people and families that deal with cerebral palsy are aware of their rights to Social Security benefits. Not everyone with cerebral palsy qualifies for benefits, but we’ve put together a list of how adults and children can qualify for benefits with the Social Security Administration.

Social Security Qualifications

The SSA determines whether or not an adult with cerebral palsy qualifies for benefits in one of two ways. The adult either has:

1. Difficulty controlling their own muscle movements to the point that they experience frequent seizures or cannot perform day to day activities; or

2. Some difficulty controlling their own muscle movement and fits one of these other four criteria:

A. An IQ of 70 or less; or

B. Abnormal behavior, such as destructiveness or emotional instability; or

C. Problems communicating due to a speech, hearing, or visual impairment; or

D. Difficulty controlling muscle movements which makes it difficult to move, walk, or stand.

The SSA determines whether or not a child with cerebral palsy qualifies for benefits in one of three ways. The child either has:

1. Difficulty controlling their own movements despite therapy. This difficulty will make it hard for them to perform day to day activities and limit their ability to stand or walk.

2. Problems with their joints that limits movement (such as deformity, pain, stiffness, joint space narrowing, bony destruction, or ankylosis). These complications are often looked at with:

A. Issues with weight-bearing joints (like your hip, knee, or ankle) that limits their ability to walk; or

B. Issues in major upper body joints (like your shoulder, elbow, or wrist) that restricts movement.

3. Some problems controlling their own muscle movements as well as one of the following:

A. An IQ of 70 or less; or

B. A seizure disorder where they’ve had at least one major seizure in the year before you apply; or

C. Problems communicating due to a speech, hearing, or visual impairment; or

D. A significant emotional disorder.

This list was compiled from the SSA website. We understand it’s a little on the dense side of things, and we’d love to explain and clarify anything you have questions about. You can chat with us online or set up a free consultation with one of our attorneys here.

If you apply for supplemental security income (SSI) and are likely to be found medically eligible for cerebral palsy, the Social Security Administration could grant you immediate benefits under compassionate allowances, rather than make you wait for months to get a decision. If you have been diagnosed with cerebral palsy and have severe difficulty speaking, coordinating hand and arm movements, or walking without braces, you probably qualify for these “presumptive disability” benefits.

We’d Like to Help

Cerebral palsy affects over 17 million people worldwide. The costs associated with care can be overwhelming. We’d like to help. If you feel that you or a loved one may qualify for disability benefits because of cerebral palsy, please call us. We know that navigating the Social Security Administration can be difficult at best. We can help. Call us at (801) 890-1030.