Social Security Disability SSI and Cerebral Palsy
Here's a recently submitted question (Devon, I apologize for not getting to this sooner).
"Hey Tim, I applied for ssi a few months ago and have a few q's. Before that, I should start by giving my back story. I have somewhat mild cerebral palsy which affects my whole right side, I can walk normally but if I walk any length of distance or stand up for a while my my legs start to hurt and ache. My right hand is weak and is really hard to grasp anything.. I also have a speech problem. I attend college as well. My Q's are, because im in college, will that affect my ssi case in any way?, when speaking of cerebral palsy, how disabled does one be to recieve ssi? and finally since i'm young, will that affect my ssi case?"
Social Security evaluates cerebral palsy under the 11:00 Neurological Impairments, under subsection 11.07 Cerebral Palsy. The listing states that you can meet or equal this listing for an approval if you have a diagnosis of cerebral palsy with an IQ of 70 or less; or behavior patterns that are considered to be abnormal such as destructive behavior or emotional instability; motor function disorganization, or significant communication problems that are due to speech, hearing or visual defects.
The fact that you are in college may or may not affect your SSI disability case. You seem to have a combination of impairments that are a result of your cerebral palsy. If you do not meet the criteria listed above you still may be approved for disability based upon your residual functional capacity (what you are able to do in spite of the limitations imposed upon you by your cerebral palsy).
If Social Security finds that your residual functional capacity is significantly restricted, they may decide that you are unable to perform any work activity (this would include jobs that are in your past relevant work history as well as jobs for which you might otherwise be considered suited based on your age, education, skills, and functional limitations). If that's the case, you would be found to be medically eligible, and therefore possibly approved for SSI.
I say "possibly" because, of course, there are other factors that affect any potential SSI entitlement. Even if you are found to be disabled medically your SSI claim could still be denied if you have income or resources (by this they mean assets) that are over the SSI limits.
The fact that you are a younger individual may also have some affect upon your SSI case, but without knowing about your medical history and what your limitations are, it is hard to say how much of an effect your age would have upon your SSI medical decision.
Generally, you'll hear people who work in the disability system--attorneys, claimant's reps, field office claims representatives, and examiners--state that its easier for older individuals to win benefits. And that's certainly true due to vocational consideration--the presumption is made that older workers will have a more difficult time transitioning to new employment, especially the older they are, the less education they have, and the less skilled they are. However, younger individuals commonly win their claims and its not unusual at all.
If you are denied and you still feel that you are disabled, appeal your SSI claim decision. It is, in most cases, to your advantage to appeal your disability claim decision rather than filing a new disability claim. Just make sure that you do the appeal quickly to avoid missing a deadline and to reduce processing time on your claim. Good luck with your case.
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