Autism is a neuro-developmental disorder that becomes noticeable in children at about three years old. It usually affects the child’s ability to communicate and general skills of social interaction. Autism affects individuals to varying degrees and is recognized by a certain set of behaviors referred to as a spectrum disorder. Autism was once a rare diagnosis; however, cases of autism recently have increased to epidemic levels.
Caring for a child with autism is difficult for families, both emotionally and financially. The expenses include home-based Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) programs, private schools, and a variety of other therapies. The Autism Society estimates that the lifetime cost of caring for a child with autism is between $3.5 million to $5 million and that the total costs relative to the care of children with autism in the United States reached almost $90 billion annually.
Children with autism may be eligible for Social Security Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits as long as their family’s combined income and assets are not above the SSI limits. It must be demonstrated that the child’s disability is medically determined to be a physical or mental impairment that causes “marked and severe functional limitations,” which either have existed for at least 12 months or are expected to last for at least 12 months or result in death.
The determination of if the family of an autistic child is eligible for benefits is a complex legal matter that requires evaluating many factors in the child’s condition. The assistance of a knowledgeable Florida attorney familiar with SSI claims is essential.