One thing that separates the Joumana Kayrouz Law Offices from any other law firm is the commitment to provide translation services to our clients so we can fully understand and address their needs. It also provides a great opportunity to provide our clients with self-advocacy skills they can use when tackling similar problems in the future.
In the few weeks that I have been onboard, it appears that language barriers prevent many of our clients’ families from getting essential services they need and for which they would most likely qualify if they were told to apply.
A significant number of the cases have involved children who are developmentally disabled and require special education services throughout their academic career and will need continued assistance after they finish school. They are just not informed by school officials that assistance is readily available.
I have described some of the requirements of for getting cash benefits for disabled children in very general terms.
To qualify for any cash benefits program under Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability (SSD):
1. The child must not engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA). This is activity in which wages would normally be paid to a person for work that is performed. But SGA can be met by work activities for which an individual does not actually receive wages such as volunteering time to a charity.
2. The child has a serious physical or mental condition that that will result in death or have a serious condition that will last 12 months or longer.
3. The child must have MARKED AND SEVERE FUNCTIONAL LIMITATIONS which is at a level that meets specific guidelines of the SSA.
SUPPLEMENTAL SECURITY INCOME
SSI is a ‘needs based program’. The disabled child is only eligible if the household he or she lives in falls under a certain level of income, depending how many family members are in the home.
The child must have an impairment or a combination of impairments that makes them disabled
If qualified, the child may receive SSI benefits from birth to 18 years.
Because of the level of income involved, the child would also be eligible for Medicaid which is also ‘needs based’.
SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY (SSD)
The child’s parents have sufficient paid credits into the Social Security System;
the child became disabled before the age of 22; and
the child is disabled under the standards set for adults.
CHILD DISABILITY BENEFITS: CDB
An application must be filed for the child;
the child is or was dependent on one or both parents; and
the child is under 20; OR
the child is between 18 and 19 and currently enrolled in elementary or secondary school; OR
The child is 18 or older with an impairment that began before the age of 22.
1. the child is not imprisoned for the commission of a felony;
2. the child is not married;
3. the parent is retired, disabled or deceased.
THE TERM ‘CHILD’ INCLUDES
1. an adopted child;
2. a stepchild (under certain circumstances)
3. a natural or biological child;
a. who was either born during the child’s parents’ marriage; or
b. any child who would have been able to inherit under the state’s laws had the parent died without a will; or
c. where the parent has acknowledged in writing he is the father of the child; or
d. where a court has decreed the parent is the parent of the child; or
e. the parent has been ordered by the court to provide support for the child.
NEXT WEEK: QUALIFYING GRANDCHILDREN AND STEPCHILDREN