Thursday, July 17, 2008

Problems in Winning a Disability Case for a Child

As I mentioned at the end of my last post, winning a disability case for a child can be more difficult than winning an adult claim.

However, before I go into my short list of reasons why, let me point out the following:

1. All disability claims that are filed with the social security administration are evaluated on the basis of documentation. For children's claims, this will often include school records as well as medical records.

2. All disability claims are decided on the basis of residual functional capacity. Therefore, for adult and child cases, having a physician complete an RFC form on behalf of a claimant can provide a valuable advantage at a disability hearing. However, for child disability cases, having a teacher complete a teacher's questionaire can be beneficial as well.

Now, why are child disability claims sometimes more difficult to win than adult cases? Here's a short list.

1. At the social security hearing level, the involvement of a disability lawyer on a case can be instrumental in winning. Unfortunately, there are a fair number of disability lawyers who simply will not take a child disability case. Sad, but true. Some attorneys simply refuse to handle child claims, most likely because the win ratio on children's claims is not as favorable. Of course, for parents who have a hearing scheduled, this can prove problematic.

But, fortunately, though some representatives shy away from child cases, there are enough attorneys out there who do take child cases that a diligent parent can usually find representation.

2. Some disability judges are biased against making approvals on children's claims. Again, sad but true.

3. Gathering needed records on a child's case can be more difficult if the records in question are school records. As was mentioned in the prior post, the ability to obtain school records and a questionaire from a teacher may be dependent on the operating schedule of the school and the availability of a teacher (e.g. a school that shuts down for the summer).

4. Some child impairments are fluid and change over time, such as attention deficit and intellectual functioning. In fact, it is not uncommon for test results to change considerably from one year to the next. This, of course, makes it difficult to establish an argument for disability benefits.

5. Some child impairments improve over time. In the case of child cases based on either seizure disorder or asthma, it is not uncommon for the severity of either condition to lessen between the time a disability application has been filed and the time the case goes to a hearing.

6. Parents who file on behalf of their children on the basis of epilepsy or asthma often to fail to get their child's seizure or asthma attacks documented. This is probably due to the fact that many parents will not wish to go to a doctor each time an attack occurs, simply because they are somewhat familiar with the duration and nature of the attacks and the probable outcome . However, from the social security administration's viewpoint, an "attack" will only be substantiated if there is medical documentation regarding it. This means going to a doctor or hospital.

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