Government Benefits for Children With Disabilities

Children with serious birth injuries may qualify for many important governmental benefits, particularly medical care through Medicare or Medical Assistance, and payments through Social Security Disability.

Your birth injury lawyers will consult with your trial experts and other professionals, including your life care planner, economist and special needs trust coordinator, to ensure that your child remains eligible for many important and free governmental services, That way, the bulk of the money received in a medical malpractice lawsuit can be used services, therapies, devices and medical care that go beyond your child’s basic needs.


Medicare typically covers people 65 and older, but in some cases it can apply to children.  Children with Lou Gehrig’s disease (also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS), and children with end stage renal disease (ESRD) are eligible for Medicare benefits.

Adults with disabilities may also be eligible if they are dependent on Medicare beneficiaries, and if the permanent and severe disability developed before age 22.

Medical Assistance (Medicaid)

Medicaid is governmental assistance that is paid for by the federal government and the state.  It is run by the individual states, so each program is unique.  In most states, children who qualify for SSI benefits can qualify for Medicaid.

Under Medicaid, children may be entitled to hospital and medical services, including long-term care services, medication, hearing aids, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy.

Social Security

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Social Security has a program called Supplemental Security Income (SSI) which provides monthly payments to children under age 18 who qualify as disabled and who meet income requirements.  In order to meet Social Security’s rules about disability, a child (1) cannot work and earn more than $1,010 (for 2012); (2) must have a mental or physical condition that causes “marked and severe functional limitations”; and (3) the child’s condition must have been disabling or be expected to be disabling for at least 12 months.

After applying for SSI, Social Security typically takes three to five months to determine if the child is disabled.  Importantly, some children are eligible for immediate benefits while a decision is made.  Disabilities that qualify include:

    • Total blindness or deafness
    • Cerebral palsy
    • Down syndrome
    • Muscular dystrophy
    • Low birth weight (under 2 lbs., 10 oz.)
    • Some severe intellectual disorders (children over age 7)

If Social Security denies the application, the parents are not required to return the initial payments made.

Adults can also be entitled to receive SSI payments, though there are different criteria (including family income, which is not considered for adults).  To apply for SSI, contact Social Security at 1-800-772-1213, or visit the Social Security Website.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

Unlike SSI, which is based on income, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is based on work history.  Children with disabilities may qualify for benefits under a family member’s work record, if the family member receives SSDI.

Adult children with disabilities can also qualify for SSDI, even without any work history.  They may qualify for monthly payments based on a parent’s Social Security earnings (called dependents’ benefits).

Contact Us

If your child was injured following birth, contact our medical malpractice lawyers at (855) 712-7818 or send us an online request for information.  We can help you to determine if your child qualifies for a medical malpractice lawsuit, and we can give you resources to help find governmental benefits for your child.

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