Call Us Today: (574) 387-4313

LAC Blog

All posts by Maggie Gendel

How a Child with Autism Can Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits

Autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder, affects more than 1 in 54 children in the U.S. For parents a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder often means that they need to make a big lifestyle change. There are therapies and treatments that can be very helpful to kids with Autism but in order to create a comprehensive therapy and care program often one parent will have to quit work and be the one in charge of keeping track of the child’s care.

This can cause financial turmoil for the household because many households rely on two incomes to get by and Autism therapies and treatments are usually expensive. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a benefits program that can help parents cover the costs of the child’s care and living expenses. Supplemental Security Income, or SSI benefits, can ease that financial burden and allow one parent to focus solely on the child’s care.

Qualifying For SSI Benefits

The Social Security Administration has strict requirements that must be met in order for children to qualify for SSI benefits. All of those requirements are listed by condition in the SSA’s Blue Book. The Blue Book is searchable online. The listing for Autism Spectrum Disorder says that in order to be eligible for benefits children with Autism must have:

  • deficits in social interaction
  • deficits in verbal and nonverbal communication, and
  • significantly restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities.

There must be medical documentation proving that the child has all three of those deficits. The child must also have an extreme limitation in one of these areas, or a severe limitation in two of these areas:

  • understanding, remembering, or using information (ability to learn, remember, and use information, follow instructions, solve problems, use reason to make decisions)
  • interacting with others (ability to engage in interactive play, cooperate with others, maintain friendships, handle conflicts, initiate or sustain conversation, understand social cues)
  • focusing on activities (ability to engage in activities at a consistent pace, avoid distractions, complete tasks in timely manner), and
  • adapting or managing oneself (ability to regulate emotions, control behavior, protect oneself from harm, maintain personal hygiene

The parents will need to provide as much medical documentation as possible to prove that the child meets these requirements so that the child will be eligible for SSI benefits.

Financial Requirements

The parents must also qualify before the child can receive benefits. The total income of all the adults in the household that work full time cannot exceed the income cap set by the SSA. The income cap increases with every adult in the household that earns wages. You will have to submit financial documentation like a W-2 or a Federal tax return for each working adult in the house to prove their income.

Starting A Claim

Don’t wait to start a claim for SSI benefits for your child who has Autism Spectrum Disorder. The process can take months so you should get a claim filed as soon as you can. To file a claim for SSI benefits for a child you will need to make an appointment at your local SSA office. At the appointment a staff member will help you fill out and fill the claim forms.

 

Sources:

SSA: https://www.ssa.gov/

Blue Book: https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/ChildhoodListings.htm

Autism Listing: https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/112.00-MentalDisorders-Childhood.htm#112_10

Medical Documentation: https://www.disabilitybenefitscenter.org/glossary/acceptable-medical-source

Income Limits: https://www.ssa.gov/ssi/text-child-ussi.htm

SSA Offices: https://www.disabilitybenefitscenter.org/state-social-security-disability

 

 

 

 

Staff Spotlight – Chelsea

Lighthouse Autism Center’s Staff Spotlight highlights the incredible people who work on our team. The Staff Spotlight will feature employees across all different centers in a variety of positions. This is an opportunity for our community to get to know the people who work so hard every day to deliver the best ABA therapy to the kids and families we serve.

Meet Chelsea

Meet Chelsea. Chelsea is a Junior Program Manager at our Warsaw, Indiana center. Chelsea started at Lighthouse two years ago as an RBT, before being promoted to a Senior Therapist and now Junior Program Manager. Chelsea has a Master’s in ABA from Ball State University and is preparing to sit for her board exam. As a Junior Program Manager, Chelsea works with a BCBA to design custom therapy programs for children with autism.

Tell us about why you applied for a position with Lighthouse.

“When I first started working in this field about 6 years ago, I immediately fell in love with it. When my husband and I moved to this area I knew I wanted to continue my career in ABA. After looking at several different companies I chose to apply at Lighthouse because of their values. “

Tell us about a favorite memory with your team at Lighthouse.

I love that Lighthouse provides the opportunity for team building events. One of my favorite memories is from last fall when we had a family fun day at a local farm. Everyone was able to bring their children and loved ones and have a day to spend together outside of the center. It was so much fun!”

What is your favorite memory from your time at Lighthouse?

“My favorite memory about working with the Lighthouse children is being able to teach them the necessary skills for them to transition into their next least restrictive environment. It’s incredible rewarding to see them make this progress and I love being able to see our kiddos graduate and return to school!”

How would you describe your Lighthouse experience?

“I would describe my Lighthouse experience as amazing. Throughout my positions I have been able to learn and grow as an individual and in my career. Lighthouse is like a family. Everyone is always so kind and helpful towards one another.”

When not at Lighthouse, Chelsea enjoys spending time with her husband and three children.

Interested in learning more about a career with Lighthouse Autism Center? We are hiring! For a list of available positions or to apply, click here.

Staff Spotlight – Elisha

Lighthouse Autism Center’s Staff Spotlight highlights the incredible people who work on our team. The Staff Spotlight will feature employees across all different centers in a variety of positions. This is an opportunity for our community to get to know the people who work so hard every day to deliver the best ABA therapy to the kids and families we serve.

Registered Behavior Technician

Meet Elisha

Meet Elisha. Elisha is a Senior Therapist at our Mishawaka location. Elisha graduated from Ball State University in 2015 with a degree in psychology and has worked at Lighthouse for four years. Her journey at Lighthouse began with an RBT position before being promoted to a Senior Therapist. As a Senior Therapist she works closely with BCBA’s to implement behavior programs for Lighthouse kiddos.

Tell us about why you applied for a position with Lighthouse.

“In college, I took a class on Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and absolutely fell in love with it. I knew after taking that class that I wanted to pursue a career in ABA.”

Tell us about the team you work with at Lighthouse.

“I have made so many close friends while working at Lighthouse. They are some of the best people and one of my favorite things about working at Lighthouse.”

What is your favorite memory from your time at Lighthouse?

“I love seeing the kids learn new ways to communicate or overcome a fear that they have had. Being able to watch the kiddos learn new things and see all our hard work (and theirs!) payoff is incredibly rewarding.”

How would you describe your Lighthouse experience?

“My overall experience with Lighthouse has been amazing. I love coming to work every day and seeing all my favorite kids and people. I wouldn’t change even the very hardest of days. Every day is a great day at Lighthouse.”

When not at Lighthouse, Elisha enjoys spending time with her two year old son and two dogs.

Interested in learning more about a career with Lighthouse Autism Center? We are hiring! For a list of available positions or to apply, click here.

Lighthouse Autism Center Autism Awareness Scholarship Winner!

Earlier this year, Lighthouse Autism Center established the Lighthouse Autism Center Autism Awareness scholarship. This scholarship is intended to provide financial assistance to an individual enrolled at a college or university as an undergraduate student in an area that we currently serve. While we had many impressive applications, Madison Clark was selected as the awardee for this scholarship.

Madison is a graduate of  Northfield Jr. Sr. High School and is currently enrolled at Indiana State University in the Applied Medicine and Occupational Therapy program. Madison has experience interning in a special education classroom as well as with an occupational therapist. In her free time, she has volunteered for Joni and Friends, Lighthouse Mission Thrift store and the Church Coffee Bar.

Madison has spent time volunteering with special needs families and hopes to pursue a career in Occupational Therapy or Special Education. She has a passion for making a difference, especially for special needs families in her community.

We could not be more excited to award this scholarship to Madison. Congratulations!

Staff Spotlight – Laney

Lighthouse Autism Center’s Staff Spotlight serves as an opportunity for us to highlight the incredible individuals we have working across all of our centers.  Our Staff Spotlight features employees across all different centers in a variety of positions. This is an opportunity for our community to get to know the people who work so hard every day to deliver the best ABA therapy to the kids and families we serve.

Meet Laney

Meet Laney. Laney is the Director of Talent Acquisition with Lighthouse Autism Center. Laney has been with Lighthouse just over a year now. Laney leads all talent acquisition efforts for all centers in Indiana and Michigan.

staff spotlight

Tell us about why you applied for a position with Lighthouse.

“Lighthouse has a great mission. I really saw an opportunity to make a difference through a position with Lighthouse.”

What is your favorite memory from your time at Lighthouse?

“This past Fall, a child had a program that involved practicing trick or treating. Over the course of two months, this child would come into my office and practice trick or treating. I would give her a token that was supposed to indicate a piece of candy. It was such a pleasure interacting with her and her RBT and knowing that I could play even the very smallest part in helping her become more comfortable with trick or treating. It was the highlight of my day!”

How would you describe your Lighthouse experience?

“My experience so far working at Lighthouse has been refreshing.  I had previously worked for a non-profit but was discouraged that they were not making a difference in the community.  In my short time with LAC I’ve seen an incredible amount of impact on not only the kiddos but the families as well with the work that the team does.   I’m incredibly proud to work for LAC!”

When not leading Lighthouse’s recruiting efforts, Laney enjoys spending time outdoors, watching football and collecting stamps.

Interested in learning more about a career with Lighthouse Autism Center? We are hiring! For a list of available positions or to apply, click here.