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Can't use your arm? That's not a disability

In order for a child to receive Supplemental Security Income benefits, his or her family must meet certain criteria. For example, the family can't earn more than two times the poverty level, nor can it have more than $3,000 in assets. Of course, the child must also have a qualifying disability, but that goes without saying.

Unfortunately, less than one-quarter of children with disabilities will actually receive federal benefits. These are children who ostensibly have qualifying disabilities and many of whom probably come from families living in poverty. Despite this, they will not receive benefits, which may leave parents struggling to figure out how to make ends meet while still fulfilling the child's medical needs.

Take, for example, the case of a 2-year-old girl who developed Klumpke's palsy after a birth injury. Though she is not from Georgia, her story could have easily happened here. After all, the majority of children with disabilities will never see federal benefits.

The young girl does not have use of her left arm or hand, nor can she feel it. Her arm was paralyzed during childbirth and her doctors say that it is a permanent condition.

While her parents only make $17,000 a year, far below the federal poverty level, she has been denied Supplemental Security Income benefits three times. The Social Security Administration refuses to comment on her case, but it seems that she meets the criteria for benefits.

Sadly, childhood disabilities are quite expensive. Children with disabilities can cost their parents up to $20,000 each year, which is why low-income families truly need federal benefits. 

Source: Philladelphia Inquirer, "Disability of 2-year-old raises questions on federal aid programs," Alfred Lubrano, Nov. 5, 2013

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