Cerebral Palsy and Qualifying for SS Disability Benefits
Author Attorney Greg Reed:
Cerebral palsy, or CP, is a neurological disorder that occurs in early childhood when a child’s brain is still developing and is the most common movement disorder in children. If you have Cerebral Palsy you may qualify for disability benefits.
Approximately 500,000 children under age of 18 currently have cerebral palsy and the Centers for Disease Control estimates that 10,000 babies born each year will develop cerebral palsy.
CP predominantly affects muscle control, coordination, posture and balance, but may also impact a child’s speech, hearing, vision, and sensation.
There are three types of cerebral palsy:
- Spastic cerebral palsy. Causes stiff muscles and awkward gait and movement.
- Dyskinetic. Causes slow, uncontrollable jerky movements. There may be problems hearing and speaking, but intelligence is rarely affected.
- Ataxic. Affects balance and depth perception, resulting in poor coordination and difficulty writing or buttoning a shirt.
Symptoms vary widely in type and severity among individuals and become more obvious over time, but CP is not a progressive condition and the underlying problems do not worsen.
All children with CP have problems with movement and posture, but where one child may not be able to walk and require life-long assistance, another child may only be awkward and require no special assistance.
Common symptoms include:
- infant is slow to reach developmental milestones such as rolling over, crawling, sitting or walking;
- lack of muscle coordination when performing voluntary movements;
- stiff or tight muscles;
- weakness in one or more arm or leg;
- walking on the toes, a crouched gait, or a “scissored” gait;
- muscle tone, either too stiff or too lax;
- drooling or difficulties swallowing;
- difficulties speaking; and
- random involuntary movements.
Cerebral palsy is caused by a malformation of the brain or an injury to the brain which disrupts the brain’s ability to control movement and maintain posture and balance.
Problems may begin in pregnancy, during birth, or shortly after birth. The majority of cases are congenital (an infant is born with CP) while a small percentage of cases are acquired, occurring after birth. The latter may be precipitated by an infection such as meningitis or viral encephalitis, problems with blood flow to the brain (fetal stroke), or a head injury. Though two percent of cases are genetic and cannot be prevented, CP is partially preventable through immunization of the mother and employing safety procedures to prevent head injury.
Risk factors which may signal CP include:
- Premature birth and low birth weight;
- Multiple births such as twins or triplets;
- Mother’s infection during pregnancy, such as German Measles;
- Infant’s incompatible blood type with mother; and
- Exposure to toxic substances such as methylmercury during pregnancy.
Contact a Social Security disability attorney at 512-454-4000 for a free consultation and see if you can get disability benefits while suffering from Cerebral Palsy. If you have been denied disability don’t give up!
Diagnosis is usually made within the first two years of a child’s life during which a doctor will monitor a child’s motor skills, posture, coordination, hearing and vision.
Lab tests may be used to rule out other conditions that may be mistaken for CP. It should be noted that many children who exhibit developmental delays do not have CP, or any other disease.
Neuroimaging diagnostic techniques include:
- Cranial ultrasound. High frequency sound waves produce a picture of the brain (used in high risk cases).
- Computed tomography. X-rays show structural damage to the brain.
- MRI. Shows the location and type of damage to brain tissue.
- Understanding, remembering, or applying information (see 11.00G3b(i)); or
- Interacting with others (see 11.00G3b(ii)); or
- Concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace (see 11.00G3b(iii)); or
- Adapting or managing oneself (see 11.00G3b(iv)).
Though there is no cure for cerebral palsy, there are treatments to manage the condition.
Physical therapy is the cornerstone of treatment and is employed to strengthen muscles and improve balance and coordination. Occupational therapy emphasizes upper body strength, mobility and balance. Recreational therapy encourages participation in sports and cultural activities while speech and language therapy improve an individual’s ability to communicate. These practices, along with assistive devices such as computers and software, voice synthesizers, braces, walkers and wheelchairs, can vastly improve an individual’s wellbeing.
The Social Security Administration recognizes cerebral palsy as a disabling impairment under Section 11.00 Neurological and more specifically under Section 11.07 Cerebral palsy.
A. Which neurological disorders do we evaluate under these listings?
We evaluate epilepsy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, coma or persistent vegetative state (PVS), and neurological disorders that cause disorganization of motor function, bulbar and neuromuscular dysfunction, communication impairment, or a combination of limitations in physical and mental functioning such as early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. We evaluate neurological disorders that may manifest in a combination of limitations in physical and mental functioning.
11.07 Cerebral palsy, characterized by A, B, or C:
A. Disorganization of motor function in two extremities (see 11.00D1), resulting in an extreme limitation (see 11.00D2) in the ability to stand up from a seated position, balance while standing or walking, or use the upper extremities.
B. Marked limitation (see 11.00G2) in physical functioning (see 11.00G3a), and in one of the following:
C. Significant interference in communication due to speech, hearing, or visual deficit (see 11.00E2).
Adults with CP face special health challenges as they grow older, among them functional issues at work.
The day-to-day challenges of the workplace may increase through time and though some individuals may be able to continue working with only an adjusted work schedule, assistive equipment, or frequent rest periods, others may experience more debilitating difficulties. If you have cerebral palsy and it has impacted your ability to work, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability Benefits.
Disability benefits are an important source of income for those who are unable to work. If you not able to work due to cerebral palsy, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability or Long Term Disability benefits. If you have applied for benefits and been denied, contact the attorneys at Bemis, Roach and Reed for a free consultation. Call 512-454-4000 and get help NOW.
Author: Attorney Greg Reed has been practicing law for 29 years. He is Superlawyers rated by Thomson Reuters and is Top AV Preeminent® and Client Champion Gold rated by Martindale Hubbell. Through his extensive litigation Mr. Reed obtained board certification from the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Greg is admitted to practice in the United States District Court - all Texas Districts and the United States Court of Appeals-Fifth Circuit. Mr. Reed is a member of the Travis County Bar Association, Texas Trial Lawyers Association, past Director of the Capital Area Trial Lawyers Association, and an Associate member of the American Board of Trial Advocates. Mr. Reed and all the members of Bemis, Roach & Reed have been active participants in the Travis County Lawyer referral service.
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