Some forms of cerebral palsy can be debilitating, making it impossible for some people to work, and for people who have this condition or have a loved one with the condition, finding financial support through SSA disability benefits might be necessary. Anyone who is in need of benefits for cerebral palsy and thinks that they might qualify should understand a little bit more about what cerebral palsy is, what the treatments are, and most importantly, what they need to do to qualify for disability benefits through the Social Security Administration.
What Is Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy is a group of conditions that affects the motor skills and potentially several other aspects of a person’s functioning. Cerebral palsy develops in the brain when the person is in utero.
Typically, symptoms begin to appear during infancy and the preschool-age years. This condition can also affect a variety of types of movements and everyday functioning, such as movement of the limbs and trunk, walking, and even posture. These abnormal movements can be unusual rigidity or floppiness of any of the body parts.
People who have cerebral palsy might also have imbalances with their eye muscles, including an inability to focus on the same object with both eyes. They might also have difficulties with swallowing and doing other activities that involve coordination of the mouth and tongue.
There are several possible causes that can create the abnormality in the brain development that causes cerebral palsy. For instance, gene mutations, infections that the mother has that affect the fetus, a stroke occurring to the fetus, bleeding in the brain in the womb, infections in the infant, head injury to an infant, or lack of oxygen to the infant or fetus.
There is a whole list of both infant and maternal illnesses the could put a fetus or infant at a greater risk of having cerebral palsy, including bacterial meningitis, viral encephalitis, untreated jaundice, and bleeding in the brain for the infant. For the mother, some of these causes include German measles, herpes, syphilis, cytomegalovirus, toxoplasmosis, and Zika virus infection.
Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy
Problems with coordination and movement are some of the most common symptoms that people with cerebral palsy will exhibit. For instance, the muscle tone in the face of might be too stiff or too floppy, or they might have difficulties with drilling excessively or having difficulty swallowing. Additionally, many people with cerebral palsy able have problems sucking or eating. Additionally, children have difficulties with speech development, often speaking later than their peers. Children are also often slower to meet other milestones, such as sitting and walking by a certain age.
Reflexes might also be affected. For instance, some people might have exaggerated reflexes because of their stiff muscles, and they might also experience involuntary movements, such as tremors. Having slow and writing movements is also a possibility, and some people might also favor one side over the other. There are also some people who will struggle with fine motor skills well into adulthood. For instance, they might have difficulties buttoning a shirt or tying shoelaces.
Symptoms of cerebral palsy might be in the entire body, they might be only in a particular part of the body, or the symptoms might be present on just one side. Because cerebral palsy is actually a brain abnormality, it’s very common for people with this disorder to have other associated neurological problems. For instance, having problems with hearing and seeing having intellectual disabilities, experiencing seizures, mental health conditions, unusual perceptions of the sensation of touch or pain, and urinary incontinence.
Treatment for Cerebral Palsy
Whether a person with cerebral palsy is an adult or child, they will need long-term care. There are several types of treatments the pediatrician, physiatrist, or neurologist might use to treat cerebral palsy. Medications are some of the most commonly used types of treatments to improve abilities and treat pain in the patient. For instance, injections to inhibit muscle contractions, such as Botox and Dysport, can be used. Some people might also benefit from oral muscle relaxants to decrease salivation and other problems associated with the valve area.
There are also several types of therapies that can play a great role in treating the effects of cerebral palsy. For instance, physical therapy can help train a child’s muscles to work better, leaving the child with greater strength, mobility, balance, and flexibility. Some children might also receive therapy to help them with skills, such as grasping, rolling, and controlling the trunk of their bodies. Some children will also need braces and splints to improve their walking abilities.
Occupational therapy is a type of treatment in which people learn to do everyday activities to gain more independence. For some people, this will include learning how to use walkers, canes, or seating systems. Some children will also need speech therapy to teach them how to speak more clearly or communicate using sign language. Recreational therapy involves teaching children to go horseback riding or skiing, which can help with some people’s emotional well-being, motor skills, and even speech.
Some people might also need to have surgery to decrease muscle tightness or correct abnormalities that were caused by spasms. For instance, orthopedic surgery might be done to the hips, legs, or arms to help with their posture. Additionally, some people might need procedures to lengthen the muscles and tendons.
Disability Benefits for Cerebral Palsy
Adults with cerebral palsy might need financial support if they find that they are unable to work because of their condition. In order to qualify for disability benefits through the Social Security Administration, there are certain criteria that the person must meet in order to meet the listing in the Blue Book, which is the guidebook that tells people who can qualify for disability benefits.
There are certain criteria that a person can meet and automatically be given disability benefits for their cerebral palsy. Firstly, the person must have a diagnosis from a doctor. Secondly, the doctor must also give a detailed description of at least one of the following. The applicant could have difficulties with communication because of speech problems, or they might have vision problems or hearing problems. Another option is if the person applying has an inability to control the movement of at least two limbs, such as an arm and a leg or two legs. Another option is if they have very serious physical problems along with a significant limitation in finishing tasks, socializing with others, cognitive functioning, or emotional regulation.
Even if a person doesn’t qualify under the cerebral palsy listing, they might still qualify with the medical-vocational allowance. When applying with this method, the doctor will put together a list of all of the patient’s limitations. Then, the Social Security Administration will look at the limitations of the applicant and compare them to the jobs that the applicant has done in the past. If there are no overlaps between abilities and jobs previously done, there’s a good chance that the applicant will qualify for benefits.
How We Can Help
There are several ways in which the team at Osterhout Berger Disability Law can help you receive the benefit you deserve. We help individuals who need to…
- Apply for Social Security Benefits and want to ensure everything is done right the first time
- Appeal a denial of Social Security Disability Benefits
- Appeal an existing denial of Long Term Disability (LTD) Benefits
If you are facing one of these situations due to Cerebral Palsy, please do not hesitate in reaching out. Our team of experienced attorneys are here to help, and your consultation is free.