Cerebral Palsy Treatment and Disability Benefits in Colorado

If someone you love has recently been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, it is normal to be frightened. You are probably wondering, "How can we treat this?" followed by, "How will we pay for this?" This is a natural reaction. This page can help answer your first basic treatment questions and help determine your next steps, medically or financially. First, we'll talk about what cerebral palsy is. Next, we'll discuss where you can find treatment in Colorado for cerebral palsy. Then, we'll discuss financial support options for the disorder. Finally, we'll walk you through the social security disability benefits process with both the Social Security Administration and the Colorado Disability Determination Service.

What is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy is an umbrella term used to refer to a group of disorders that affect a person's ability to move. It's a condition marked by impaired muscle coordination, balance, posture, and possibly other disabilities such as intellectual impairment, autism, and vision or hearing deficits. Cerebral palsy is often caused by damage to the developing brain at or during birth. While many children are born with cerebral palsy, it is possible to develop the disorder after a traumatic brain injury as well. Cerebral palsy 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. The disorder can range from mild and barely detectable, to quite severe and debilitating.

Treatment for Cerebral Palsy in Colorado

While a cerebral palsy diagnosis can be overwhelming at first, there are many treatment options in Colorado. While cerebral palsy can't be cured, treatment can improve the lives of those with the condition. Moreover, early intervention can help your child reach their fullest potential. Colorado has many specialized treatment centers that provide comprehensive care for children with cerebral palsy:

Children's Hospital Colorado
13123 East 16th Ave.
Aurora, CO 80045
(720) 777-0123

The goal of the cerebral palsy program within the Orthopedics Institute at Children's Hospital Colorado is to maximize function and ensure the best quality of life for children with cerebral palsy. With dozens of provider locations across Colorado, CHC's nationally ranked program brings together experts from orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, rehabilitation, physical and occupational therapies, pediatrics, neurology, genetics, nutrition, the center for gait and motion analysis, and adaptive recreation for childhood health. These specialists work as a team to provide the latest and best treatments to help children live to their fullest potential.

University of Colorado Orthopedics
(720) 777-5692

The Cerebral Palsy and Neuromuscular Program of the University of Colorado's Pediatric Orthopedics department is operated in conjunction with Children's Hospital Colorado. It is a multidisciplinary clinic that treats deformities and movement disorders that result from abnormalities of the brain or spinal cord. The program also works closely with the Center for Gait and Movement Analysis (CGMA) to assess their current abilities and help them reach their maximum potential. The CGMA is the only one of its kind in the Rocky Mountain Region-and one of only 10 accredited gait labs in the country. Through state-of-the-art instrumentation and 3D motion capture technology, specialists get a comprehensive analysis of walking and movement to guide the patient's treatment plan.

Parent to Parent of Colorado
801 Yosemite St.
Denver, CO 80230
(877) 472-7201

Parent to Parent is a network of Colorado families caring for children with disabilities. P2P-CO offers resources, in person and online support groups, and public policy opportunities.

Aspire Colorado
1575 Sherman St., 4th Floor
Denver, CO 80203
(303) 866-3364

Aspire Colorado's mission is to ensure that Colorado children with special health care needs have the opportunity to grow, learn, and develop to their greatest potential. The website offers information and family support resources in Colorado.

Financial Assistance for Cerebral Palsy

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

Financial assistance may be available for your family. You can apply for social security disability benefits for your child with cerebral palsy, or as an adult with the disorder. You may complete the application on your own, or with the assistance of your local social security office, but it may help to seek the assistance of an experienced cerebral palsy disability benefits attorney at the beginning of the process. An attorney can also give you your legal options if you believe your child's cerebral palsy may be the result of a birth injury or other malpractice.

Colorado also offers an online portal called PEAK for parents to apply for state benefits in one spot, with ease and confidentiality. Through the portal, you can screen and apply for medical benefits, food, cash assistance, and early childhood assistance programs.

Applying for Social Security Benefits in Colorado

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. If you apply online before attending an in-person interview, it may help speed up the process. While the application and approval process can be long, sometimes in excess of a year, cerebral palsy with severe impairments may entitle you to presumptive disability benefits and accelerate the approval process.

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 Colorado:

Disability Determination Services
3190 S Vaughn Way, Suite 500
Aurora, CO 80014
(303) 368-4100
(800) 332-8087

If you are approved for SSI benefits, Colorado also offers a supplemental payment in addition to the social security disability payment. You may contact the Colorado Department of Disability Determination about this benefit. The supplement, called Aid for the Needy Disabled/Blind, is usually $25 a month and is administered by the Colorado Department of Human Services.

If your claim is denied, you can file a request for reconsideration with DDS. Colorado denies 63% of initial claims. During the reconsideration, another examiner from DDS will usually review your claim. If your claim is denied again, you may ask for a hearing with an administrative law judge where you can bring witnesses and present supporting documents. If you haven't already retained a lawyer, many people prefer to have an attorney assist them at this point in the process.

All appeals and hearings in Colorado are handled by the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review. There are offices located in Denver and Colorado Springs:

SSA, OHO Denver
1244 Speer Blvd., Ste, 600
Denver, CO 80204
(888) 397-8803

SSA, OHO Colorado Springs
Plaza of the Rockies, North Tower
111 S. Tejon St., Ste. 401
Colorado Springs, CO 80903
(888) 844-8269

The Colorado Springs office handles people who live near Alamosa, Canon City, Durango, Glenwood Springs, Grand Junction, La Junta, Montrose, Pueblo, and Trinidad. The Denver office handles people who live near Aurora, Denver, Lakewood, Littleton, Louisville, Fort Collins, and Greeley.

If you disagree with the administrative law judge's 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 that you are always entitled to seek legal assistance for this convoluted process. The assistance of an experienced social security benefits attorney at the very beginning of your claim can shorten the process considerably, decrease the likelihood of an initial denial, and help ensure that your family receives the help it needs after a cerebral palsy diagnosis.