Sunday, July 13, 2008

Funding Autism Treatment with Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a federal government program that provides financial assistance to disabled children and adults who meet eligibility requirements. In order to qualify for disability benefits under SSI, individuals must meet the Social Security Administration’s criteria for disability. They must also have income and assets which fall within the guidelines set by the Social Security Administration. The current maximum SSI benefit for an eligible individual is $637 monthly. In addition, many states supplement SSI payments through State Assistance Programs for SSI Recipients.

Children and adults with autism spectrum disorders may qualify for SSI benefits. When determining eligibility for SSI, the Social Security Administrations considers the nature and severity of a disability, family size, the number of family members who receive SSI, household income, whether household income is earned or unearned and assets. Check out the Supplemental Security Income Home Page to learn more about the application process.

Here are some tips for applying for SSI:
1. Document how your child’s disability affects his or her ability to participate in the activities of daily life.
2. Have copies of your child’s medical records, evaluations, treatment plans, Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP), Individualized Education Program (IEP) and therapy reports readily available.
3. Compile the names and contact information for your child’s pediatrician, neurologist, therapists, teachers, social workers and case managers.
4. Keep copies of paycheck stubs, W-2s, income tax returns, utility bills, medical bills, therapy bills, insurance statements, rental contracts, mortgage statements, bank statements and other financial records.

You may initiate the application process for SSI online. Click on the link to apply for SSI on behalf of a child. Click on the link to apply for SSI on behalf of an adult.

If you have questions about applying for SSI, you may call the Social Security Administration’s toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. The toll-free TTY number is 1-800-325-0778. You may also visit your local Social Security Administration office for assistance.

Tips for visiting a Social Security Administration Office:
1. Arrive early and prepare for a wait.
2. Make sure you take copies of all necessary documents with you when you visit a Social Security Administration office.
3. Take something to read, a crossword puzzle, a small craft project or some paperwork you need to complete with you to help you pass the time.
4. If you take your child with you, bring along a few favorite toys and/or books.
Bring snacks for your child. Be prepared to step outside the office when your child wants to eat a snack because many Social Security Administration offices do not allow eating or drinking.

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