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Low Birth Weight and Social Security Disability

Healthy newborn babies typically weigh around seven pounds. When a baby weighs less than five and a half pounds, they are considered to have low birth weight, regardless of their gestational age. Low birth weight can lead to developmental issues and long term health conditions later on in life. Low birth weight has been linked to mental disorders, growth impairments, sensory issues, and cardiovascular problems. In many cases around the world, low birth weight is associated with higher levels of infant mortality.

Low birth weight can be caused by a number of factors. Some of the most common causes include:

  • Premature birth (the baby has a gestational age of less than 37 weeks)
  • Poor nutrition
  • Slow growth rate in the womb
  • Having twins or other sets of multiples
  • Smoking, alcohol use, or other environmental factors during pregnancy

A baby born with low birth weight will be small in size, though perhaps with a disproportionately sized head. The baby will also have a fine hair growth covering the body. The baby will likely have a low body temperature and likely have difficulty with things such as breathing and swallowing. As the child grows older, they are at an increased risk of diseases like asthma and diabetes. They may also have a reduced immune system, leaving the body open to infection.

There are a number of basic tests used right away to diagnose low birth weight, the most obvious being weight. Your doctor will also take blood tests and monitor heart rate and breathing. Low birth weight is treated right away using feeding tubes and an incubator to regulate body functions. Your child may require blood work and will certainly be closely monitored for a period of time. Certain liquid medications can be given to strengthen the lungs and their functioning, and antibiotics will be administered if the baby develops an infection. Low birth weight can be prevented or treated early by attending prenatal visits, avoiding drugs and alcohol during pregnancy, and maintaining a healthy diet.

Filing for Social Security Disability Benefits for a Baby with Low Birth Weight

According to the SSA’s Blue Book, your baby's condition can qualify for Social Security Disability benefits by matching a number of listings. First, they may be able to match a listing associated with their symptoms or complications. The following listings may apply.

  • A child’s small size and slow growth may qualify them for benefits under section 100.00—Childhood Growth Impairments.
  • Doctors will keep a close watch on your baby's vision and hearing from the moment they are born. If either sense is underdeveloped your child may be able to receive benefits through listing 102.00—Special Senses and Speech.
  • Children younger than three years old who require supplemental daily enteral feeding may qualify under listing 105.10—Need for Supplemental Daily Enteral Feeding via Gastrostomy.
  • There is also a Blue Book listing which covers general developmental and emotional impairments in infants, found in section 112.12. The listing applies when there is a noticeable lag in the development of motor skills, communication, and reasoning, when compared with healthy rates.

Be sure to read the full requirements of each listing before applying to get a good sense of your child’s medical eligibility.

Your Child's Low Birth Weight Disability Case

Consult a Social Security Disability attorney early in the application process for disability benefits. These attorneys are familiar with application preparation and presentation. In many cases, an attorney can improve your chances of being approved for disability benefits.

Do not worry about the cost of the attorney; many will only charge you if your disability claim is successful. Otherwise, these attorneys are only paid a small portion of the back pay owed to you and your child once you receive benefits. The Social Security Disability application for a child with low birth weight can be very difficult and these attorneys are experts in helping their clients win their cases. Speak with an attorney today.