Thursday, May 18, 2006

Social Security Disability and SSI Benefits for Children

During the Clinton presidency, there was a trend to systematically deny Social Security disability and SSI claims even for slam-dunk cases. SSI, stands for Supplemental Security Income, and originally was conceived as a way to make certain that disabled citizens had a reasonable level of income. The trend to denial was, I believe, an effort to save money on the Social Security budget. The American Bar Association at that time was outraged about this new tactic, and sponsored a volunteer-directing program.

I got involved through the local Boston Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers program. Not every bar association has such a well-run volunteer program. Ironically, it takes some investment to hire some full-time staff to run a volunteer program well. I have heard from friends who have tried to volunteer in other places and been extremely frustrated by lack of response at overwhelmed volunteer offices. I hope you can try again and get a better response!

In order to represent clients at Social Security, SSI or any other administrative hearing, one need not be an attorney at all, much less licensed in the state or federal circuit where the hearing is held. It makes it a very easy thing to volunteer for. Administrative hearings have more relaxed evidentiary and procedural rules than courts. The hearing officer pretty much asks questions in a more conversational way, and allows people to speak more naturally, although this can certainly vary.

Here are a few helpful links:

Social Security Administration's Electronic Leaflet: "Benefits for Children with Disabilities" link

Social Security Online Handbook (Dec. 14, 2005) link

Social Security Rulings Online (I cannot verify how current this is. Search via the table of contents or by case name if you already know that) link

National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives, "Social Security For Disabilities Frequently Asked Questions" Courtesy and Copyright Charles T. Hall, Esq. link (my bloglet freshness shows last updated 3/2/2006, it features a disclaimer).

National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives, Homepage includes a link to most recent Regulations, proposed regulations, Social Security and Income Tax, a number of interesting links and listings of members. Includes excellent links for medical resources, which are a must to understand your case. link

Judge David Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law link
Non-profit focusing on advancing rights of mentally ill through advocacy, litigation and education. Features news, articles and longer reports on a variety of public mental health issues in HTML or PDF formats. Helpful site.

Parents & Foster Parents Info Child's SSA Disability link
This is an excellent site, though not visually exciting. It is very easy to understand. It lays out exactly what the program is, how it works and what the process requires. It has excellent links to related articles of interest about parenting disabled children. It was prepared for foster parent and seems to be a very good site, though it was created in 1996 and last modifed in 2000. The information is still basically helpful to understand the Social Security system. Do not rely on timing information from this page!

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