Cerebral Palsy Treatment and Disability Benefits in Alabama

When a loved one is diagnosed with cerebral palsy, it can be alarming and scary. You may wonder, "How do we treat this?" closely followed by, "How will we pay for this?" This reaction is completely normal. We created this page to help you answer those questions and determine your next steps.

First, we'll talk about what cerebral palsy is. Next, we'll discuss where you can seek treatment for cerebral palsy in Alabama. Then, we'll discuss options to seek financial support for cerebral palsy. Finally, we'll walk you through the social security disability benefits process with both the Social Security Administration and the Alabama Disability Determination Services Office.

What is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy isn't one particular thing, rather it is a group of neurological disorders affecting a person's movement, balance, and posture. Cerebral palsy is caused by abnormal brain development or damage to the developing brain, permanently affecting body movement and muscle coordination. Some children are born with cerebral palsy, even if it isn't diagnosed until months later. It is also possible to develop cerebral palsy after a traumatic brain injury. A maternal infection that affects a developing fetus, or a lack of oxygen to the brain during a complicated labor and birth, can also cause cerebral palsy.

Seeking Treatment for Cerebral Palsy

Don't worry! Hearing a cerebral palsy diagnosis can be frightening, but there are many long-term treatment options in Alabama. While cerebral palsy cannot be cured, early intervention and treatment can improve the lives of those with the condition and help your child reach their fullest potential. There are many treatment centers throughout Alabama that provide specialized, comprehensive care for children with cerebral palsy.

UAB Medicine
500 22nd Street S
Birmingham, AL 35233
(800) UAB-8816

UAB Medicine offers a nationally recognized Movement Disorders Clinic with specialized neurologists; coordinated care; speech, occupational, and physical therapy.

Children's Hospital of Alabama
1600 7th Ave. S.
Birmingham, AL 35233
(205) 638-9100

Children's of Alabama offers selective dorsal rhizotomy, a neurological surgery used to reduce spasticity in some children with cerebral palsy. The team members include neurology, neurosurgery, physiatry, orthopedics, and physical therapy.

South Baldwin Regional Medical Center
1613 N. McKenzie St.
Foley, AL 36535
(251) 949-3400

South Baldwin Regional Medical Center offers a full range of pediatric cerebral palsy therapy services.

HealthSouth Lakeshore Rehabilitation Center
3800 Ridgeway Dr.
Birmingham, AL 35209
(205) 868-2000

HealthSouth is an inpatient facility, offering comprehensive, coordinated care for cerebral palsy patients. The facility offers a network of physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech/language pathologists, psychologists, social workers, and other healthcare professionals for both brain and spinal cord injury patients.

United Cerebral Palsy of Alabama offers programs through several affiliates throughout the state of Alabama:

United Cerebral Palsy of East Central Alabama
415 Castle Ave.
Anniston, Alabama 36205
(256) 237-8203

UCP of East Central Alabama serves Calhoun, Cleburne, Randolph, Talladega, and Clay counties in Alabama. The organization offers daycare, adult daycare, an outpatient therapy clinic, a respite program, and early intervention services.

United Cerebral Palsy of Huntsville & Tennessee Valley
2075 Max Luther Dr. NW
Huntsville, AL 35810
(256) 852-5600

UCP of Huntsville & Tennessee Valley offers a physical medicine and rehabilitation clinic, respite care, early intervention programs, specialized daycare, assistive technology, family support, summer activities, and even playgroups.

United Cerebral Palsy of Mobile
3058 Dauphine Square Connector
Mobile, AL 36607
(251) 479-4900

UCP of Mobile offers services throughout southern Alabama, including adult services; child care training; occupational, physical, and speech therapy; early intervention services; preschool therapy; computer physicians; family services, and Camp SMILE.

United Cerebral Palsy of Northwest Alabama
507 N. Hook St.
Tuscumbia, AL 35674
(256) 381-4310

UCP of Northwest Alabama offers specialized daycare, a respite program, on-site childcare training, and pediatric therapy and early intervention services. Pediatric services include, socialization and parent training; physical, speech, occupational, and cognitive training.

United Cerebral Palsy of West Alabama
1100 UCP Pkwy.
Northport, AL 35476
(205) 345-3031

UCP of West Alabama offers adult and child programs and services, including daycare, respite, Camp HOPE, transportation services, assistive technology, education and awareness, and the Milestones program offering community and job support.

United Ability
100 Oslo Cir.
Birmingham, AL 35211
(205) 944-3900

UCP Ability offers early intervention and learning programs, respite programs, adult daycare, and physician and therapy services, and an outpatient therapy clinic.

Financial Support for Cerebral Palsy

After a cerebral palsy diagnosis, it is completely normal to worry about the long-term financial implications of this disorder and its treatment. Cerebral palsy can be debilitating and expensive. The CDC reports that the disorder can cost families $900,000 through a child's lifetime, including medical treatment and lost work hours. Cerebral palsy may often be accompanied by another disability such as epilepsy, autism, an intellectual disability, and vision or hearing loss. Moreover, cerebral palsy is a lifelong disorder and many of those diagnosed will not be able to work as adults.

There is help available. You can apply for social security disability benefits as an adult with cerebral palsy, or for your child with the disorder. While you can certainly complete the application on your own, you may want to seek the assistance of an experienced cerebral palsy disability benefits attorney before you begin the process or before you begin your appeal. Moreover, if you believe your child's cerebral palsy may be the result of a birth injury or other malpractice, an attorney can give you all of your legal options to ease the financial burden on your family.

Social Security Benefits

There are two options that fall under the category of "social security benefits." Social Security Disability Benefits (SSDI) are available to those who have paid into social security for at least 10 years and accumulated a sufficient number of work credits. SSDI may also be available for adult children who were disabled before the age of 22.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is available to low-income individuals who have either never worked or who haven't accumulated enough work credits to qualify for SSDI. Children may be eligible for SSI if your family meets the income requirements and your child meets Social Security's definition of disability for children, resulting in "marked and severe functional limitations," that have been "disabling, or expected to be disabling" for at least 12 months. In some cases, you may qualify for both SSDI and SSI if you qualify for SSDI and your payments are quite low. Medical eligibility for both benefits programs is determined in the same way.

If you are an Alabama resident found eligible for SSI, you may also be entitled to an additional payment called the state supplemental payment. The amount of the Alabama supplemental payment is not based on your income or level of disability. Eligible amounts are as follows:

Living CircumstancesPer Person
Independent Home/Life Care$56 to $60
Specialized Home/Life Care$60
Living in Cerebral Palsy Treatment Center$196
Applying for Social Security Benefits

To apply for Social Security benefits, you can go to your local Social Security office, request that a form be mailed to you by calling (800) 772-1213, or apply online for an adult or child. The Social Security Administration's SSI Child Disability Starter Kit, Checklist, and Worksheet contain lists of all of the documentation and medical information needed to apply. Applying online before attending an in-person interview can help speed up the process. While the application and approval process can be long, cerebral palsy with severe impairments may entitle you to presumptive disability benefits and accelerate approval as well.

Although social security disability is a federal program, each state's disability determination agency is responsible for making medical decisions about each disability claim. The Disability Determination Services Office is responsible for this process in Alabama:

Disability Determination Services
2000 Bay Front Rd.
Mobile, AL 36605
(251) 433-2820
Mailing Address:
PO Box 2371
Mobile, AL 36615

DDS
PO Box 830300
Birmingham, AL 35283
(205) 989-2100

All appeals and hearings in Alabama are handled by the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review. There are offices in Florence, Montgomery, Birmingham, and Mobile. To find the correct office, call the regional office at (404) 562-1182.

Alabama is part of a test to streamline the appeals process, so if your appeal is denied, the first step of the appeals process is to ask for a hearing with an administrative law judge where you may bring witnesses and present supporting documents. Alabama has one of the highest rates of initial denials of social security disability applications in the country. As a result, the wait time for appeal hearings are usually over a year. Many people prefer to have an attorney assist them at this point in the process.

If you disagree with the hearing decision, you may ask for a review by the Social Security Appeals Council. If the Appeals Council feels that the hearing decision is correct, it may decline to hear your case. It may also decide your case itself or return your case to an administrative law judge for further review. If you disagree with the Appeals Council's decision, you may file suit in federal district court.

Remember, you are entitled to seek legal assistance for this complicated process from the very beginning. An experienced social security benefits attorney can shorten the process considerably, decrease the likelihood of an initial denial, and help to ensure that your family receives the assistance it needs after a cerebral palsy diagnosis.