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Options, stipulations in place for child disability benefits

When most people discuss Social Security and the numerous benefit programs it provides to millions of Americans, they envision a working adult who has either reached retirement age or has been unfortunately struck by a disability that makes it impossible for them to go to work.

Programs like Social Security disability and Supplemental Security Income are available to help the nation's youngest as well-so long as important conditions are met. With many children in Texas and across the country stricken with injuries and diseases that bring on staggering medical costs, in addition to a lost ability to participate in school and other activities, understanding a child's Social Security rights is critically important for all families.

The Social Security Administration's Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program can be tapped to provide a minor with benefits if their condition or impairment meets the administration's definition of "disability." However, the regular income and assets of that child's parents must be within the limits set by the SSI program.

Child disability benefits can also be secured, and even extended beyond the point where one reaches the age of 18. Like SSI benefits, the conditions must meet the administration's grounds for disability, and the onset of the disability in question must have began before the age of 22. Perhaps most importantly, the parent(s) of the disabled child nee(s) to have worked long enough, paying into the Social Security system, for benefits to begin being claimed. If one or both parents have passed away, certain survivor benefits may also be available.

In both instances, a child's disability must prevent him or her from doing substantial work and must be expected to last more than one year or likely result in death.

Although benefits can very possibly be secured for a disabled child, the application process for disability or SSI can be a tangled, arduous process that can be bogged down in appeals. With the help of a Social Security law attorney, the requisite materials and actions for a successful appeal can be secured. With matters as serious as a child's health at stake, acting quickly is a parent's best choice.

Source: The Oklahoman, "Can children get disability benefits?," Dec. 16, 2012

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