Thursday, July 17, 2008

Applying for Disability for a Child - gathering records

As I said two posts back, processing a disability case for a child (an SSI disability case) is really no different from processing a claim for an adult. That is, an application is filed, records are gathered and evaluated, and a decision is made.

Claims for children, as with adults, run the gamut and cover a wide spectrum of illnesses, from autism and asperger's to developmental delay to scoliosis and juvenile diabetes.

For child disability claims that are based solely on physical impairments, the gathering of records will hardly be different from the gathering of medical records in an adult case. However, in child cases involving mental impairments (that are cognitive, affective, or anxiety related), record gathering will include getting school records.

What do school records include? Potentially quite a bit. IEPs, achievement testing, IQ testing, and grade reports. However, something that is often very helpful is a questionaire completed by a student's teacher, one that is designed to capture the teacher's first-hand assessment of the child's ability to function and perform within an academic setting and also to interact with others.

Questionaires of this sort are often used by individuals who represent disability claimants (disability attorneys and disability representatives) and they serve the same purpose as a residual functional capacity form. Much in the same that an RFC form from a physician will distill onto a dedicated form the doctor's opinion about an adult's ability to engage in work activity (or not), a teacher's questionaire will distill onto a dedicated form the teacher's opinion regarding the student's ability to function academically.

Is the gathering of records on a child disability claim more difficult than on an adult claim? Not always, but it can be.

Just as many doctors are slow to complete medical RFC forms on behalf of adult claimants, teachers are slow to complete and return questionaires. Additionally, for schools that are not year-round and have summer breaks or extended seasonal breaks, the advantage of obtaining a questionaire from a teacher may be mediated by whether or not a disability representative can even find the teacher in the first place.

How hard is it to win a child disability claim? In can be harder than winning a disability case for an adult. This is a question I will address in the next post.

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