Cerebral Palsy Treatment and Disability Benefits in Arizona

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

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

What is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy is a group of neurological disorders affecting a person's ability to move and balance, as well as posture. Cerebral palsy is usually caused by damage to the developing brain or abnormal brain development that permanently affects body movement and muscle coordination. Some children are born with cerebral palsy although they may not receive a diagnosis for months. Other children develop cerebral palsy after an infection or traumatic brain injury. A lack of oxygen to the brain during a complicated labor and birth, or a maternal infection that affects a developing fetus, can also cause cerebral palsy.

Seeking Treatment for Cerebral Palsy

A cerebral palsy diagnosis can be alarming, but there are many long-term treatment options throughout Arizona. Cerebral palsy cannot be cured, but treatment and early intervention can improve the lives of those with the condition and help your child reach their fullest potential. There are many specialized treatment centers in Arizona that provide specialized care for children with cerebral palsy.

Phoenix Children's Hospital
1919 E. Thomas Rd.
Phoenix, AZ 85016
(602) 933-1000

Phoenix Children's has a cerebral palsy clinic dedicated to treating children with cerebral palsy and other progressive neurological conditions. The clinic treats the orthopedic aspects of the condition, including muscle weakness or stiffness, poor motor control, unsteady gait and spasticity, or shaking of the arms or legs. Each child receives an individualized treatment plan with the input and expertise of orthopedic physicians, neurologists, neurosurgeons and physical therapists.

Dignity Health offers comprehensive treatment for cerebral palsy in multiple locations throughout Arizona:

Mercy Gilbert Medical Center
3555 S. Val Vista Dr.
Gilbert, AZ 85297
(844) 254-7423

Chandler Regional Medical Center
1955 West Frye Rd.
Chandler, AZ 85224
(855) 382-4151

Barrow Neurological Institute
350 West Thomas Rd.
Phoenix, AZ 85013
(602) 406-6281

United Cerebral Palsy also offers early intervention and therapy services for children, adult daycare, respite care, home and community-based services, individualized designed living arrangements, employment services, and early childhood autism services. UCP offers treatment in multiple Arizona locations:

United Cerebral Palsy of Central Arizona
1802 W. Parkside Ln.
Phoenix, AZ 85027
(602) 943-5472

United Cerebral Palsy of Southern Arizona
630 N. Craycroft Rd.
Tucson, AZ 85711
(520) 795-3108

Financial Support for Cerebral Palsy

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

There is help available. You can apply for social security disability benefits for children with cerebral palsy, or as an adult 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.

While many states offer a supplemental payment in addition to social security disability payments, Arizona does not.

Applying for Social Security Benefits in Arizona

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 office of Disability Determination Services is responsible for this process in Arizona:

Disability Determination Services
4000 North Central Avenue, Suite 1800
Phoenix, AZ 85714
(520) 638-2000

Disability Determination Services
4710 South Palo Verde Road
Tucson, AZ 85714
(520) 638-2000

In Arizona, if DDS approves you for SSI, you are automatically approved for Medicaid as well. If DDS denies your application for SSI or SSDI, you may file a "request for reconsideration" with DDS. A different claims examiner at DDS will review your claim. If you haven't yet sought advice from an experienced disability attorney, this is a good time to do so.

If your reconsideration request is again denied, you have the right to request a hearing with an administrative law judge, where you may submit additional documents and question witnesses. The administrative law judge will either affirm or deny your claim. Hearings are held at Social Security Administration's Offices of Hearing Operations:

Siete Square, Suite 200
3737 North 7th Street
Phoenix, AZ 85014
Phone: (888) 748-1991

This office serves Apache Junction, Chinle, Flagstaff, Mesa, Phoenix (Downtown), and Tuba City.

Phoenix North
18444 North 25th Avenue, Suite 430
Phoenix, AZ 85023
Phone: (877) 784-3690

This office serves Basin, Glendale, Phoenix (North), and Prescott.

Rio Nuevo Professional Plaza, Suite 265
201 N. Bonita Ave.
Tucson, AZ 85745
Phone: (888) 383-8694

This hearing office serves Casa Grande, Douglas, Globe, Nogales, Safford, Sells, and Tucson.

If denied at the hearing level, you have 60 days to 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.