In order for someone with a disability to receive services from the Division of Developmental Disabilities, they have to be eligible for Medicaid. The primary way families achieve Medicaid eligibility is by applying for Supplemental Security Income for their child with a disability. There are three goals: (1) get something called “Aged Blind Disabled” Medicaid, (2) and get access to DDD services, and (3) link the child with the disability with the parent for Social Security purposes. This lets us do three really important things: (1), the young person with the disability now has Medicaid, and when the parent retires or passes, two years later the child received Medicare, (2) the young person with the disability gets SSI now, and when the parent retires or passes, the child will get SSDI, which is usually a higher payment, and (3) the child’s disability is “established” with both the Social Security Administration and the Division of Developmental Disabilities. However, sometimes these applications are denied, even when they shouldn’t be. When an application for SSI is denied, the family can request a Fair Hearing. A Fair Hearing is a trial before an administrative law judge who determines if the child should or should not receive SSI. Right now, the Social Security Administration is sending letters to families, telling them that if they do not affirmatively respond and “opt out”, their loved one will receive a video conference hearing. This is a problem. A lot of young people with disabilities- especially Autism- may appear more engaged when looking at a screen, from the comfort of their home, than in person. This could lead a Judge to conclude, incorrectly, that their disability is not as severe as it actually is. If you or your loved one with a disability has been denied SSI, contact Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. toll-free at (855) 376-5291 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss appealing the denial.
Written by Nicole C. Tomlin, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann & Wright