Does a Child’s Anxiety Qualify for Disability Benefits?

by Jul 3, 2017

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Having a child with severe anxiety can place an emotional and financial burden on the parent. The condition might require regular medical care, medication, and various types of therapy. A child’s severe anxiety can also make it difficult for the parents to work and complete normal activities of daily living, especially if her anxiety makes it hard to be away from certain family members.

If this sounds like your situation, your child’s anxiety may qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. However, strict guidelines apply. These include income limitations as well as rigid criteria your child’s diagnosis must meet.

To speak with a disability attorney about qualifying for SSD benefits, call the Disability Advantage Group today at 865-566-0800. We can help you understand the complexities of qualifying for benefits based on your child’s anxiety.

What type of disability benefits can my child qualify for?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers two types of benefits. However, parents of a child with anxiety are only eligible to receive one of them.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a program that protects disabled workers who cannot continue to earn a living. Payroll taxes, which are automatically deducted from workers’ checks, fund the SSDI program. Children cannot qualify for SSDI benefits.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a welfare program for disabled people who have low income and few assets. There is no work requirement to receive SSI. Instead, the SSA qualifies applicants whose income and resources fall below a certain level. If your child’s anxiety meets certain conditions and your income is within the SSA’s guidelines, you might qualify for SSI.

How can I qualify for SSI benefits based on my child’s anxiety?

The bar is high to qualify for SSI for childhood anxiety disorders. You cannot expect benefits simply because a doctor diagnosed your child with anxiety. The condition has to be severe and it has to meet at least one of the SSA’s criteria for childhood mental disorders. Under these criteria, your child must experience:

  • An anxiety disorder severe enough to cause fatigue, restless behavior, irritability, disturbed sleeping patterns, muscle tension, or difficulty concentrating;
  • Severe panic attacks;
  • Fear based on specific situations, such as being present in a crowd;
  • Extreme separation anxiety; or
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder.

In addition to meeting the above criteria, the child’s anxiety must be so severe that it results in her lagging behind her peers. You can also show the seriousness of your child’s condition with evidence of medical treatment spanning at least two years.

Are there any additional requirements?

The SSA does list additional requirements based on your child’s age. Parents of children younger than age 3 must provide evidence that their child’s anxiety is causing a marked delay in the development of age-appropriate skills or a loss of skills already learned. The child’s anxiety must also cause an extreme limitation of her ability to control her movements, learn and retain new information, interact socially, and self-regulate.

How do I prove my child suffers from severe anxiety?

Our disability lawyers can work hard to provide evidence to the SSA that your child’s anxiety meets the criteria for a disability. We can do this by using diagnoses, test results, interviews with doctors, and statements from teachers and other caregivers. It is crucial for us to submit as much evidence with your application as we can. The more thorough we are, the stronger our case.

To qualify for SSI, your child’s anxiety must cause symptoms so severe they cause marked impairment in at least two of the following areas:

  • Intelligence and language development;
  • Social functioning;
  • Personal functioning, such as learning to become self-sufficient; or
  • Concentration and persistence.

Standardized testing, teachers’ comments, grade reports, and medical reports all offer potential proof that your child’s anxiety is causing her to lag behind peers in these areas.

If you received a denial after your first application, it is not the end of the world or the end of the process. Our attorneys may be able to win your case using the appeals process. We can examine your disability claim and determine the best way to win an appeal.

Do I need a disability lawyer?

Working with a qualified disability lawyer from the Disability Advantage Group can give you the best chance of a favorable outcome in your case.

The process of applying for SSI is intricate and nuanced and the SSA’s decisions may seem arbitrary. As experienced attorneys, we have been through the process many times and we can put our knowledge and resources to work for you. We offer a free consultation, so call our office today at 865-566-0800 to set up a time to sit down and discuss your case.