Disability Benefits for Adults and Children with Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder caused by brain damage from a brain injury or an abnormal development in the brain that occurs before birth, during the birthing process or immediately after birth.
It results in a loss or impairment of motor function, affecting an individual’s body movement, muscle control and coordination, balance, posture, and muscle tone and reflexes. It can also affect hearing, vision, speech and learning ability.
There are no known cures for the condition, but there are a variety of therapies and treatments that can help individuals cope with the effects of the condition.
Because this condition can be debilitating, those with cerebral palsy, including children, may be eligible for disability benefits.
Disability Benefits for Children with Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy is included in the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Blue Book of impairment listings as listing 111.07. Children who meet the requirements of the listing and suffer from significant impairment should qualify for children’s Supplemental Security Income. However, those with only minor impairment will not qualify for benefits.
According to the listing, the condition must cause extreme impairment of motor function in two extremities, including two lower extremities, two upper extremities or one of each, which causes an extreme limitation in the ability to:
- Stand up from a seated position – The child must not be able to stand up from a seated position and maintain an upright posture without requiring help from another person or a device like a walker, two canes or two crutches.
- Balance while standing or walking – The child cannot maintain his or her balance while standing or walking without help from another person or device such as two canes, two crutches or a walker.
- Use the upper extremities (fingers, hands, wrists, arms, shoulders) – The child has an inability to use his or her upper extremities, which limits his or her ability to perform fine motor movements that are age-appropriate, such as grasping objects, pushing, pulling, reaching and getting up from a seated position.
If the child is not yet old enough to stand up, balance or walk, the SSA will evaluate the child’s ability to perform age-appropriate tasks. An extreme level of impairment in this case means the child has only reached developmental milestones half of his or her age.
Disability Benefits for Adults with Cerebral Palsy
The SSA also has an impairment listing for adults with cerebral palsy. Adults who meet the requirements of the listing may be able to receive Supplemental Security Income if they are considered low income. If they have paid into the Social Security system, it may be possible to obtain Social Security Disability Insurance.
To qualify for benefits, an individual must experience one of the following:
Disorganization of Motor Functions
Disorganization of motor functions is defined as extreme impairment in two extremities (two lower, two upper or one of each) that cause an inability to stand up from a seated position, balance while standing or walking, or use the upper extremities. This requirement is the same as the requirements for children with cerebral palsy.
An individual must suffer from one marked limitation in physical functioning and at least one marked limitation in a mental function. A marked limitation would be considered the fourth point on a five-point scale, with extreme limitation as the fifth point.
A marked physical limitation means that an individual is limited in his or her ability to self-sufficiently begin, sustain and complete work-related physical tasks, such as standing, balancing or using extremities.
An individual must also experience one marked mental limitation that inhibits his or her ability to:
- Understand, remember or apply information
- Interact with others
- Concentrate in order to finish tasks
- Adapt or control emotions and behavior
Severe Interference in Communication
An individual could also qualify for benefits if he or she suffers from significant limitations in communicating because of a vision, hearing or speech problem.
If you do not meet the requirements of the Blue Book listing, the Social Security Administration will conduct a Residual Functional Capacity assessment to determine how significant your cerebral palsy impairments are and if they prevent you from working.