Social Security Disability Benefits for Cerebral Palsy

The Social Security Administration recognizes cerebral palsy in adults as well as children in reviewing applications for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. In general, mild cases of cerebral palsy are disqualified, but when the condition is so severe that it impairs function significantly, SSD benefits may be made available.

Cerebral palsy is the term used to characterize neurological impairment that affect motor function, coordination, muscle tone, reflexes, and posture. It is non-progressive and has a wide range of severity. It is uncertain how the condition develops, but it is widely believed that 80% of those who have the condition are born with it, although it may manifest after birth. In the remaining cases, cerebral palsy may result from head trauma, infection or malnutrition.

Cerebral palsy is categorized as spastic, ataxic, athetoid, and mixed. About 80% of all cerebral palsy cases are of the spastic type, characterized by stiffness of certain muscle groups (hypertonic) which affect posture and balance. People affected by any type of cerebral palsy may also have secondary impairments with vision, hearing, speech and learning. So far, there are no known cures for the disorder; treatment protocols are designed to alleviate some of the symptoms to promote functionality.

The functional impairment that accompanies certain cases of cerebral palsy necessitates some type of financial support. Applying for SSD benefits would enable cerebral palsy patients and their families to live comfortable lives. For adults to qualify for SSD benefits, one of these conditions should be present:

  • Emotional instability or destructiveness, or other behavior problems
  • Inability to effectively use hands or fingers
  • IQ score of no more than 70
  • Serious impairments with vision, speech or hearing
  • Significant lack of mobililty
  • Impaired motor function of two extremities that affect dexterity, gait, or posture

Children with cerebral palsy may also qualify for SSD benefits if they have severe functional limitations that interfere with fine or gross motor movements, impaired learning abilities (IQ of 70 or less), seizure disorders, emotional disorders, or significant communication deficits.

Qualifying for SSD benefits in general is often a long and complicated process. When seeking to get financial support and assistance for severe cases of cerebral palsy, it is a good idea to engage the services of a lawyer experienced in making SSD benefit claim applications. This will ensure that all the bases are covered and facilitate approval of the claim.