Ideally, childhood should be a carefree time full of wonder and discovery. Unfortunately, many children are born into a world filled with confusion and problems communicating with others. While autism can take many forms and some can ultimately lead to partial or even full recovery, it’s usually a very difficult disability to cope with, particularly when little functional change ever takes place. Families often need help providing the constant stimulation and other special treatments that autistic children may need to eventually develop new skills. Private and government health benefits don’t always cover everything that these children so desperately need.
That’s why it can become necessary to file for disability benefits on behalf of a child suffering from autism. Everyone deserves a chance to obtain the types of medical services that may possibly help them learn to communicate more effectively with others. As children grow older, they may also need to use their disability benefits to cover other basic needs.
Getting Disability Benefits for a Child with Autism
At any one time, children with autism can be suffering from one of many different health problems. Some of them may develop seizures requiring aggressive treatment while others may need intensive speech therapy. Be sure you fully understand all of the ailments that are a part of your child’s autism before meeting with Social Security officials. It may help you to meet with each of your child’s healthcare providers before filing so you will be prepared to answer all or most of the questions you are likely to be asked.
Filing a Disability Claim
Your child’s pediatrician and other medical specialists will all need to provide their professional opinions about your child’s autism so you can properly pursue a disability claim on your child’s behalf. School officials familiar with your child’s test results or classroom behavior may also need to provide their professional insights and evaluations as part of the disability Application process. Be sure to review the helpful materials prepared by the Social Security Administration concerning disability claims filed on behalf of children. If you cannot view these readily over the Internet, call and speak to someone who works in your local SSA office about them.
Stated succinctly, it can be difficult to predict the outcome of any application for disability benefits filed on behalf of a child. The Social Security Administration will look closely at how long your child has suffered from autism, how likely he or she is to overcome some of their current limitations over time and what types of resources may already be available to your child.
Be prepared to produce records documenting your child’s complete medical history and ask all of the doctors and other professionals who have evaluated your child to prepare detailed reports that are hopefully both honest and supportive of your filing. Be aware that the application process can take up to two years, given the fact that so many initial requests are turned down and require Appeals.
Pursuing the Frequently Necessary Appellate Process
Since losing at the initial filing stage is quite common, applicants (or those filing on their behalf) should not get discouraged and should seriously consider hiring a social security lawyer to help them pursue their child’s appeal. There are several different paths an appeal can take and you may need a lawyer to explain your various options.
Getting Legal Help
Children struggling with autism need as much early intervention and outside support as possible. Their parents or other caregivers should file for disability benefits as early as they can. Be ready to hire a lawyer who specializes in helping people obtain disability benefits so he or she can try and minimize the time it will take to fully pursue your appeal and hopefully obtain your child’s benefits.
Try not to worry about being able to pay your lawyer. Attorneys in this field know that >they generally only win payment of their fees when they succeed in obtaining benefits for you. Make sure your lawyer states in your contract that no legal fees are owed unless your child’s request for disability benefits is granted. (Attorney fees come out of the back payment amount the Social Security Administration usually owes most disability applicants). (The timeframe used in calculating back payment amounts runs from the date when you first filed your application until the time when benefits are finally awarded).
(Note: You should be able to find one or more “support groups” on the Internet via the search engines that will allow you to interact with others who have gone through this process with your specific illness. Some of them may have valuable tips to share. A fair number of these groups have even formed subgroups especially for teens.)