Is a Brachial Plexus Injury Such as Erb’s Palsy Considered a Disability?
If your child has a brachial plexus birth injury (BPBI) such as Erb’s palsy, Klumpke’s palsy, or global palsy, they could be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which is overseen by the Social Security Administration (SSA). SSI provides monthly stipends to low-income persons who are blind or disabled. If SSI is provided to a child, they become eligible (upon review of their status) for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) once they turn 18, or, if still considered low income and disabled, they may remain on SSI.
Both SSI and SSDI are run by the Social Security Administration. However, SSI is funded by general funds, not Social Security funds. SSDI is paid from Social Security funds.
I Thought Social Security Was Just for Seniors?
The Social Security we know as retirement benefits is for those 62 and over. But SSI and SSDI are different. People can collect an SSI or SSDI benefit three ways:
- Disabled children (under 18) from families considered low income can collect SSI until the age of 18. At 18, they might be eligible to collect adult SSI benefits. Children who receive SSI are also eligible for Medicaid.
- Children younger than 18 (19 if a full-time student) whose families have too much income to qualify for SSI may be able to collect on a parent’s Social Security record or status. If they have a parent currently receiving disability income (SSDI) or Social Security retirement benefits, or had a parent who earned sufficient Social Security credits to qualify before dying, the child may be able to collect benefits regardless of disability status.
- Disabled adults between 18 and 22 who became disabled before turning 22 can collect disability income if one parent is collecting SSDI or Social Security retirement benefits, or if they had a parent who earned sufficient Social Security credits to qualify before dying.
Qualifying for SSI/SSDI with Brachial Plexus Birth Injuries
If it is severe enough, BPBI can be considered a disability under SSI/SSDI rules. Although BPBI usually affects only one upper limb, and therefore may not be not severe enough to qualify, BPBI combined with other impairments, or BPBI that affects both upper limbs, may qualify:
- For BPBI affecting both sides of the body, “motor dysfunction due to any neurological disorder” (disability listing 111.06) may apply. Dysfunction must affect two extremities.
- Another disability listing, 101.08, “soft tissue injuries of an upper or lower extremity,” is a possibility for qualifying.
- Other listings of other impairments may also strengthen your case.
Complete medical documentation of the disability is crucial. You need to have both medical findings and diagnosis along with records that demonstrate the development and level of functioning by the child. If the child is under the age of three, it is especially important to have documentation regarding the child’s achievement, or lack thereof, of normal developmental milestones.
Qualifying for, and achieving, SSI or SSDI benefits for your child can be a difficult and time-consuming process involving complicated governmental statutes. It is often advisable to seek legal counsel when disability questions are at issue.
Is your child suffering from a brachial plexus birth injury such as Erb’s palsy or a global palsy? At the Louthian Law Firm, we put our expertise to work for you by offering the personal service and understanding that families in crisis need. If your child has experienced a birth injury, it is important that you speak with us. We always offer free consultations with no further obligation on your part. To schedule your case evaluation, call the Louthian Law Firm today toll free at (803) 454-1200 or use our online contact form. Louthian Law Firm. When life goes wrong, we fight for what’s right.
Bert Louthian has been practicing law in Columbia with his father, Herb, since 1985. After receiving his Juris Doctorate from the University of South Carolina, Bert launched his legal career in his father’s firm. With 80 years of legal experience between them, Louthian Law, P.A. remains Family-Owned and Family-Focused.
Bert understands that when life goes wrong – when you or someone you love gets hurt or suffers a loss, it can feel like nothing will ever be right or fair again. He gets up and goes to work every day to prove that feeling wrong – and does everything in his power to make things right again.