Cerebral Palsy Treatment and Disability Benefits in Illinois

If a loved one has recently been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, your first concern may naturally be, "How do we treat this?" followed by, "How will we pay for this?" This is a normal reaction and we created this page to give you an idea of what to expect. First, we'll briefly discuss what cerebral palsy is. Then, we'll discuss where you can seek treatment for cerebral palsy in Illinois. Next, we'll talk about your options for 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 Illinois Department of Human Services.

What is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy is a group of neurological disorders that affect a person's ability to move and maintain balance and posture. It is caused by damage to the developing brain or abnormal brain development that permanently affects body movement and muscle coordination. Many children are born with cerebral palsy, although it may not be diagnosed until months later. Others may develop cerebral palsy after an infection or traumatic brain injury. Cerebral palsy can also be caused by a maternal infection that affects a developing fetus, or by a lack of oxygen to the brain during a complicated labor and birth.

Seeking Treatment for Cerebral Palsy

Although it can be frightening to hear a diagnosis of cerebral palsy, there are long-term treatment options available to help improve the lives of those with the condition. While cerebral palsy cannot be cured, early intervention and treatment can help your child reach their fullest potential. There are many specialized treatment centers throughout Illinois that provide comprehensive, coordinated care for children with cerebral palsy.

The Ray and Kathy LaHood Center for Cerebral Palsy
507 E Armstrong Ave.
Peoria, IL 61603
(309) 681-6962

The LaHood Center is a collaboration of Bradley University, Children's Hospital of Illinois, Easterseals Peoria-Bloomington, and the University of Illinois College of Medicine-Peoria. The center is dedicated to providing families a network of care to ensure the best treatment available for cerebral palsy.

Easterseals of Central Illinois also maintains a list of specialized services provided by Easterseals in the Peoria, Ilinois area, for everything from feeding and speech therapy, physical and occupational therapy, and orthotic services to family support services and counseling.

LaRabida Children's Hospital
6501 South Promontory Dr.
Chicago, IL 60649
(773) 363-6700

LaRabida Children's Hospital maintains a cerebral palsy clinic, providing a full range of services for children with brain injuries, including coordination of care between providers, and training and education for parents. LaRabida treats children with complex medical conditions, regardless of financial circumstances.

Shriner's Hospital for Children
2211 N. Oak Park Ave.
Chicago, IL 60707
(773) 622-5400

Shriner's Hospital for Children-Chicago includes an extensive cerebral palsy program with physicians; nurses; physical, occupational, and speech therapists; and social work and RN care managers all working in concert to provide customized care plans for children with mild to complex cerebral palsy cases.

Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago
225 E. Chicago Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611
(800) 543-7362

Lurie Children's Hospital is the largest pediatric provider in the Chicago area and is the teaching hospital for Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine. Lurie maintains partnerships with dozens of clinics and hospitals throughout the Chicago area, ensuring that families can receive treatment for cerebral palsy in their own communities.

Advocate Children's Hospital
4440 W. 95th St.
Oak Lawn, IL 60453
and
1675 Dempster St.
Park Ridge, IL 60068

Advocate Children's Hospital is part of Advocate Health Care Aurora and is designated as a Pediatric Critical Care Center by the Illinois Department of Public Health. Advocate uses multi-disciplinary teams of specialists to treat children with cerebral palsy, including developmental pediatricians, physical and occupational therapists, speech and language therapists, dietitians, and orthopedic specialists.

Shirley Ryan Ability Lab
355 East Erie
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 238-1000

With 30 locations throughout Illinois, the Shirley Ryan Ability Lab focuses on mobility, communication, self-care, education, and innovative research for cerebral palsy patients of all ages. Their Nerve, Muscle + Bone Innovation Center combines the expertise of laboratories, doctors, therapists, and scientists to treat cerebral palsy.

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 the CDC reports that the disorder can cost families $900,000 through a child's lifetime, including lost time at work and medical treatments. Cerebral palsy can also often be accompanied by another disability such as an intellectual disability, epilepsy, vision or hearing loss, and autism. Moreover, because cerebral palsy is a lifelong disorder, 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 Illinois resident found eligible for SSI, you may also be entitled to an additional payment called the state supplemental payment (SSP) or AABD Cash Assistance. The amount of the Illinois supplemental payment is determined by subtracting maintenance costs from the SSI payment. If the maintenance costs are more than the SSI payment, you may receive a supplemental payment from the state to cover expenses.

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 Illinois Disability Determination Office is located at:

Illinois Bureau of Disability Determination Services
Department of Human Services
PO Box 19250
Springfield, IL 62794-9250
(800) 225-3607

If your claim for benefits is denied, you can file an appeal within 60 days of the date you receive the Social Security Administration's letter with your decision. If your appeal is denied, you can ask for a hearing with an administrative law judge where you may bring witnesses and present supporting documents. These hearings are held at the Social Security Administration's Offices of Hearing Operations in Chicago; Evanston; Evansville, Indiana; Oak Brook; Orland Park; and Peoria. 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. An experienced social security benefits attorney can shorten the process considerably and help to ensure that your family receives the assistance it needs after a cerebral palsy diagnosis.