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Do you need to apply for disability for your minor child?

Even in the best circumstances, having a child and raising them to adulthood is both difficult and incredibly expensive. Families invest tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars in the shelter, food, clothing, health care and education of their children. For some families, the costs associated with the care of a child can be far more than what the average family will incur.

A child born with significant disabilities, whether the product of a birth injury or a genetic anomaly, will require more medical care, more expensive childcare and possibly even the full-time assistance of one of the parents. Your family may have to find a way to survive on a single income, regardless of how many children you already have.

Especially when there are costly medical needs associated with a particular disability, it makes sense for families raising disabled children to apply for Social Security Disability benefits.

Social Security isn’t just for the benefit of employed adults

Some people mistakenly believe that, like unemployment, Social Security benefits are only available to those who have paid into the program through employment. While it is true that standard Social Security income, commonly used during retirement, and standard disability benefits are the result of contributions someone makes during their working life, Supplemental Security Income benefits could help your family.

The Social Security Administration does approve Supplemental Security Income applications for families with children whose conditions are so severe they have never been able to work or that precludes them from earning a living wage.

Only those with severe conditions likely qualify

Even among the conditions that most would consider disabilities, there is a great spectrum of potential symptoms and experiences. One child born with Down Syndrome may require extensive, constant care, while another could be autonomous enough to eventually have their own job and apartment as an adult.

The same is true for autistic children and others born with serious disabilities, including cerebral palsy or genetic conditions like muscular dystrophy. You will need to look at your child’s prognosis and abilities when deciding if an application for Supplemental Security Income makes sense for your family.

Disability can help you make ends meet

When one parent has to stay home to provide care for a disabled child, the standard of living and income for the whole family goes down. While Supplemental Security Income benefits usually only represent a fraction of what an employed adult could make, particularly one with skills or education, those benefits can make it more feasible for someone in your family to stay home and care for your disabled child.

In some cases, you could use the benefits to cover the cost of expensive treatments not covered by insurance or the kind of childcare your family requires for the parents to remain employed. As with an adult application, a juvenile application for Social Security benefits requires keen attention to detail and an understanding of your rights, including the right to appeal if the Social Security Administration declines your initial application.