Apraxia Monday: Childhood Apraxia of Speech and Social Security Disability Benefits

By Leslie Lindsay

I’m pleased to be able to share this article penned by Molly Clarke, Social Media Coordinator for Social Security Disability Help.  I think you will find the article very informative and timely–as we begin planning for our children to head back to school–and possibly resume speech services (if you took a break over the summer months). 

From Molly:

Communication disorders affect children in a variety of ways—ranging in severity, duration, and in the limitations that they cause. Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) is no different.  CAS is a motor speech disorder that makes it very difficult to say different sounds, words, and syllables. This can be extremely frustrating for a child because, although they know what they want to say, their brain cannot coordinate the muscle movements necessary to speak correctly. Some children who have CAS experience severe limitations, while other children with CAS have no trouble performing day to day activities.

As the parent of a child with CAS, you may also encounter certain obstacles.  Helping your child overcome CAS often becomes a parent’s first priority. This may include purchasing necessary assistive technology or taking part in therapy sessions—neither of which are always covered by insurance. If your child has CAS and finds it difficult to function on a level similar to his or her peers, you may qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits on his or her behalf. Disability benefits will help you provide for your child and help them on their journey toward improving their speech.

Disability Benefit Programs: Although the SSD application process is notoriously lengthy, many parents find disability payments necessary to support their child.  To eliminate confusion and expedite the process, parents should enter the application process as prepared as possible. The following information will help you determine whether or not your child is a good fit for SSD benefits and provide you with the information needed to begin the process.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). While both programs are designed to provide qualified individuals with disability benefits, they’re very different and only offer benefits to those who meet their stringent eligibility criteria.application form

Eligibility for SSDI is dependent upon “work credits”—a measure designed by the SSA to evaluate a person’s work history and the amount of taxes they’ve paid into the system. Children do not typically qualify for SSDI on their own record because they have yet to earn an income and pay taxes.

SSI is typically the best option for children. SSI is a needs-based benefit program that provides financial assistance to disabled or elderly individuals. The amount of income a person earns will determine whether or not they qualify and how much their monthly payments will be. Children applying for SSI will be subject to something called parental deeming. Deeming is the process of allocating a portion of a parent’s resources to a child. 

To learn how deeming works visit the following page:

http://www.socialsecurity.gov/ssi/spotlights/spot-deeming.htm.

For more specific details about SSI technical eligibility requirements, visit the following page:

http://www.disability-benefits-help.org/ssi/qualify-for-ssi.

Meeting or Matching Listings: In order for a child to qualify for SSI on their own record, they must meet very specific medical criteria. These criteria can be found in the SSA’s manual of disabling conditions known as the blue book.  Although there is no blue book listing for CAS, this does not mean that your child will not qualify. Instead of meeting a specific listing, your child will have to match the symptoms listed under a separate but similar condition.

Most parents, doctors, and SLPs find that children with CAS closely match blue book listing 111.09- Communication impairment associated with documented neurological disorder. To meet or match this specific listing, your child must demonstrate the following:

  • A deficit that significantly affects the content and clarity of his or her speech; or
  • A comprehension deficit that causes ineffective communication for his or her age group; or
  • A hearing impairment.

It is extremely important that you work with your child’s doctors and therapists to collect medical records and evidence to support these criteria.

Initiating the Application Process: In addition to supporting medical documentation, you should also be prepared with proof of age, citizenship, income, and resources. Once you have collected these documents, you will be ready to begin the application process.

The initial application for SSI is comprised of two forms—the Child Disability Report and the Application for Supplemental Security Income—and an interview. Although the Child Disability Report can be completed online, many parents prefer to fill out both forms at the time of their scheduled interview. To schedule your child’s interview, call the SSA’s main phone line (1-800-772-1213).

Once you have completed the initial application, it may be several months before you receive a decision. Even then, your child’s claim may be denied. If this happens, it is important to remain patient and persistent in your efforts.  To appeal this decision, you must put your request in writing within 60 days of receiving your denial letter.

While receiving a denial can be discouraging and overwhelming, you should not give up. Once you are awarded benefits, you will be able to focus on helping your child improve his or her speech rather than focusing on the money needed to do so.

Bio: Molly Clarke is the Social Media Coordinator for Social Security Disability Help and contributes regularly to the Social Security Disability Help Blog. You can contact her at mac@ssd-help.org.

[children image retrieved from priyanandana.wordpress.com.  Molly Clarke headshot and application used with permission from M.Clarke]

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