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SSI and Autism

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April is Autism Awareness Month. There is significant attention paid to the causes of autism, and this conversation is intensified during the annual awareness month. Theories about the causes of the condition range from genetics to childhood immunizations and other environmental factors. The illness typically develops before the age of three and commonly results in developmental problems with language and socialization. Some children also have intellectual disabilities.

Many children are high-functioning and can go on to relatively normal lives because they are able to compensate for their disabilities. Others, however, are severely disabled and require speciality medical care, assistive technology and special needs schooling, all of which can quickly become very expensive. Families' financial situations can be dire.

A common source of financial assistance when a child has autism is Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Another source might be Social Security Disability (SSD) - if a parent is already receiving his or her own SSD benefits. However, children and young adults seldom qualify by themselves for SSD benefits because they have no work history.

Eligibility for SSI benefits is determined by income, rather than by work history, as is the case with SSD. For a child with autism, the parents' income, as well as the income of stepparents, will be evaluated.

Parental income is not the only criteria for successfully obtaining SSI benefits. Children must have disabling symptoms that include problems with communication, social interactions, imagination and severely limited activities, interests or abilities. Documenting these symptoms requires extensive medical and financial records.

Even though you can see that your child is disabled, the Social Security Administration (SSA) may not see it that way, especially if the documentation is incomplete. In such cases, the SSA may deny your request for benefits for your child. Having help with your claim can make a huge difference to the outcome.

If you are seeking SSI benefits for a child with autism, do what so many others like you have done. Call the advocates at Binder & Binder® from anywhere in the United States. Learn how they can help you help your child.

Source: Age of Autism, "Autism and Social Security Disability Benefits," by Molly Clarke, Jul. 10, 2013.

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