Children dealing with learning disabilities often face an uphill battle, both in the classroom and after graduating. It can be difficult to pay attention and absorb what is learned in class, and to apply those concepts to real-life circumstances or employment. In some circumstances, learning disabilities can be so severe and disabling as to have a significant and permanent impact on a person’s quality of life, and they may qualify a child to receive government benefits. At Kantrovitz & Associates, P.C., our Social Security attorneys have worked with many Massachusetts families seeking assistance and monetary support for their child’s learning disability.Children and Social Security Benefits
Applying for government benefits for a child who is disabled can be a difficult and frustrating process. Since the Social Security Administration (SSA) is hesitant to award life-long benefits to individuals who are so young, many applications for disability benefits for children are initially denied. Additionally, since SSDI compensates individuals who can no longer work and requires those individuals to have contributed to Social Security through prior earnings, it is not available to children. Instead, children must apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which is a needs-based program for which only some children will qualify.Disabilities and Learning Disorders
Assuming your child can qualify for SSI, it is important to determine what disability listings might apply to your child’s circumstances. Disability listings are set forth by the SSA in its Blue Book. An individual who meets the criteria set forth for a designated listing automatically qualifies to receive disability benefits.
While some disorders have specific listings that attach, there is no single listing for a learning disability. Instead, children can apply under the listing for organic mental disorders. Under this listing, a child must establish that he or she has been diagnosed with a learning disorder and has suffered from “marked” or “extreme” functional limitations for at least a year. Specifically, the child must experience at least one “extreme” limitation or two “marked” limitations in these areas of functioning:
- Learning and applying information
- Paying attention to tasks
- Social interaction with others
- Moving objects about
- Caring for oneself
- Health and physical well-being
To show an “extreme” limitation, the child must establish that his or her learning disability very seriously interferes with his or her ability to start or complete tasks in one of the above areas of functioning. This can also be evidenced by test scores that are three or more standard deviations below the mean for children their age.
To show a “marked” limitation, the child must establish that his or her learning disability seriously interferes with the above functional areas in a way that is more than moderate but less than extreme. Scoring between two and three standard deviations below the mean on standardized testing can be sufficient.
When applying for benefits for a child, it is generally helpful to gather as much medical evidence as possible, including statements from physicians, test results, and other indicators of low cognitive ability. Having your child tested for IQ can also help.Discuss Your Pursuit of Government Benefits with a Massachusetts Attorney
Helping a child who suffers from a severe learning impairment that greatly reduces his or her cognitive or social functioning can be an overwhelming and time-consuming process for parents. Children with learning disabilities often need support from therapists, counselors, teachers, and medical providers, and obtaining the best quality of care often comes at a high price. At Kantrovitz & Associates, P.C., our government benefits lawyers are knowledgeable in the SSI and SSDI application process and are committed to helping Massachusetts residents pursue the monetary assistance they may need. If you are seeking help or advice for your child’s disability application, contact our office at (800) 367-0871 or online. From our Boston offices, we proudly serve individuals throughout Massachusetts, including in Norfolk, Suffolk, Plymouth, Essex, and Middlesex Counties.