Cerebral Palsy Treatment and Disability Benefits in Arkansas

When a loved one is diagnosed with cerebral palsy, it can be alarming and overwhelming. You may wonder, "How do we treat this?" closely followed by, "How will we pay for this?" This reaction is completely natural. We created this page to help you answer those questions and determine your next steps in Arkansas. First, we'll talk about what cerebral palsy is. Next, we'll discuss where you can seek treatment for cerebral palsy in Arkansas. 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 Arkansas Disability Determinations for SSA office.

What is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy 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 that permanently affects body movement and muscle coordination. Many children are born with cerebral palsy, although it may not be diagnosed until months later. It is also possible to develop cerebral palsy after an infection or traumatic brain injury. The disorder can also be caused by a maternal infection that affects a developing fetus, or a lack of oxygen to the brain during a complicated labor and birth.

Seeking Treatment for Cerebral Palsy

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

Arkansas Children's Hospital
1 Children's Way
Little Rock, AR 72202
(501) 364-1000

Arkansas Children's Hospital's Spasticity and Intrathecal Baclofen Pump Clinic provides comprehensive care for children with cerebral palsy, from diagnosis and evaluation to treatment and ongoing care. The team includes neurologists, advanced practice nurses, and physical therapists.

University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Medicine
4301 West Markham St.
Little Rock, AK 72205
(501) 686-7000

UAMS Pediatrics provides comprehensive care for cerebral palsy in a state-of-the-art teaching environment. Providers have received specialized training in pediatrics and neurology.

United Cerebral Palsy of Arkansas also offers services for both children and adults through their branches in Little Rock, Jonesboro, Fayetteville, and Russellville. Adult services include nursing, supported employment, community living arrangements, transportation, treatment consultations, and adult centers. Children's services include nursing, therapy services, transportation, respite care, supported living, specialized equipment, preschool, and family support services.

9720 N Rodney Parham Rd.
Little Rock, AR 72227
(501) 224-6067

1817 Woodsprings Rd.
Jonesboro, AR 72401
(870) 268-1454

606 W Main St.
Russellville, AR 72801
(479) 967-2211

2846 Garland Ave.
Fayetteville, AR 72704
(479) 966-4322

Financial Support for Cerebral Palsy

It is completely normal to worry about the long-term financial implications of cerebral palsy and its treatment. This disorder can be debilitating and 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.

Financial help may be 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 complete the application on your own, seeking the assistance of an experienced cerebral palsy disability benefits attorney before you begin the process may be helpful. Additionally, an attorney can give you all of your legal options if you believe your child's cerebral palsy may be the result of a birth injury or other malpractice.

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 some states offer a supplemental payment for those found eligible for social security benefits, Arkansas does not.

Applying for Social Security Benefits in Arkansas

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 for SSA is responsible for this process in Arkansas:

Disability Determinations for SSA
701 Pulaski Street
Little Rock, AR 72201
(501) 682-3030

If your claim is denied, you can ask DDSSA to reconsider its decision. The office will have another examiner from the office review your claim. If it is denied again, you may ask for a hearing with an administrative law judge where you can bring witnesses and present supporting documents. Many people prefer to have an attorney assist them at this point in the process. All appeals and hearings in Arkansas are handled by the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review. There are offices in Fort Smith and Little Rock, and Memphis.

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.