Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that affects the body's ability to control muscles, and can cause a range of physical and mental impairments. It is usually diagnosed at birth, but can also be diagnosed after a few months. While there is no cure for cerebral palsy, there are steps that can be taken before and during pregnancy, as well as after delivery, to reduce the risk of developmental problems. For those with moderate to severe cases of cerebral palsy, the Social Security Administration (SSA) provides financial help in the form of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.
This is due to a provision in the law that allows people who are disabled before their 22nd birthday to collect SSDI benefits based on their parents' work history. In addition to cerebral palsy, SSDI benefits are available for those with mental conditions such as autism, intellectual disability, schizophrenia, or bipolar disorder; and physical conditions such as muscular dystrophy, Down syndrome, blindness, or cancer. To qualify for SSDI benefits, you must have a disability that prevents you from working. This could include an inability to walk or stand up effectively, muscle stiffness, balance and coordination problems, involuntary movements, pain, intellectual disabilities, seizures, vision problems, speech issues, hearing difficulties, communication difficulties, emotional instability and more.
However, even if your cerebral palsy isn't severe enough to stop you from working, it could still save you and your family a great deal of emotional stress. Adults with cerebral palsy who have only worked in jobs such as construction, retail and food service will also be more likely to receive disability benefits. In addition to SSDI benefits, the SSA also administers Supplemental Security Income (SSI). This program provides financial assistance to people who are unable to work due to a serious disability such as cerebral palsy.
To qualify for SSI benefits you must meet certain income and asset limits. However, few children with special health care needs meet the strict SSI eligibility standards due to their conditions not being severe enough or their families' incomes and savings exceeding the low limits of the program. If you or someone you know has cerebral palsy and is considering applying for SSDI or SSI benefits it is important to understand all of the eligibility requirements and documentation needed. A doctor must confirm by phone or through a signed statement that a person has a terminal illness with a life expectancy of six months or less; or a doctor or an official specializing in palliative care must confirm that the person is receiving hospice services due to a terminal illness; cerebral palsy is found in section 11.00 Neurological disorders for adults and in section 111.00 for children. It is also important to note that SSI is different from Old-Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance (commonly known as Social Security).
Knowing the difference between these two programs can help ensure that you get the financial assistance you need.