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Expert Q&A

What can I do if I’ve been denied SSI benefits for my daughter’s physical disability? Should I get her tested for LD?

I have a 4 year old with hydrocephalus and a ventriculoperitoneal shunt. I’ve been submitting applications for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) but have been denied all three times.

I recently started to notice that my daughter writes words, numbers, and her name backwards. No matter how many times you show her correctly, she keeps doing it backwards. I have called hospitals to see if there are tests for her but all I’ve been getting is a call back three to six months later. I really need some advice or even a lead on where to go. Thank you.

Dear Aresenia:

You need to consult with a knowledgeable SSI disability appeals lawyer concerning the possibility of filing an appeal of the denial of benefits for your child.

There are several organizations that represent lawyers that handle SSI cases. You can do a Google search or contact the American Bar Association Mental and Physical Disability Law/Bazelon Center Web site for a list of lawyers that do disability cases.

With regard to child having trouble with reversing letters and numbers, this is often reflective of the presence of a learning disability. You may want to consult with a clinical psychologist or neuropsychologist for evaluation of your child’s reading and writing to determine if there is a problem with the way her brain processes information.

Many hospitals, especially children’s hospitals and hospitals with medical school affiliations, have clinics that conduct psycho-educational evaluations. However, you should be forewarned that many hospital clinics may use medical criteria that are different than the eligibility criteria used by the schools. Therefore, it is important to make sure that the evaluator is familiar with the special education criteria for LD, as well as the clinical criteria.

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