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Can I get disability benefits if my child has cerebral palsy? SSI Benefits from Social Security

A child can be found disabled if they have a health condition (mental or physical) that meets or equals the severity of a listed impairment.  These listed impairments can be found at


As noted therein, numerous medical conditions are covered.  But, the key is that a child’s condition must satisfy the description of the severity indicated in these listings.  For example, the Cerebral Palsy listing for disability is as follows:

111.07 Cerebral palsy with:

  1. Motor dysfunction meeting the requirements of 101.02 (inability to ambulate effectively or inability to perform fine or gross movements effectively) or 111.06 (persistent disturbance of two extremities resulting in disruption of fine and gross movements or gait and station); or
  2. Less severe motor dysfunction (but more than slight) and one of the following:
  3. IQ of 70 or less; or
  4. Seizure disorder, with at least one major motor seizure in the year prior to application; or
  5. Significant interference with communication due to speech, hearing, or visual defect; or
  6. Significant emotional disorder.

Because these listed impairments have very specific medical criteria, Social Security often requires supportive testimony from a medical expert before they will find that a listing has been met or equaled.  Nonetheless, many cases are favorably resolved under these listings even without testimony from a medical expert. In all cases, the description of severity in treatment records is of utmost importance.


Most cases for childhood SSI benefits are resolved under the functional domains.  Here, Social Security looks at six different areas of functioning in a child’s life.  If Social Security determines that two out of these six areas are markedly impaired (seriously affected) a finding of disabled will typically be made.  School records (IEPs, ETRs, teacher assessments) often play a pivotal role in determining whether a child qualifies for disability under these functional domains.  The six areas that Social Security looks at under the functional domains are the child’s ability to:

(1)   Acquire and Use Information

(2)  Attend and Complete Tasks

(3)  Interact and Relate to Others

(4)  Move about and manipulate objects

(5)  Care for oneself

(6)  Overall health and physical well-being

20 CFR § 416.926a.

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