Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS) how will it affect child custody?

Recently on our disability forum a user asked, “I have been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS). I am also going through a terrible divorce. Can I qualify for any type of disability assistance for my condition and will the court allow me care for my children?”

Getting Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) for Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS)

Although it sounds like you have been going through an extremely tough time, there is potentially a bit of good news. The Federal Government does offer disability benefits to certain qualifying claimants. In fact, workers who become disabled with a severe mental or physical health condition may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits if their condition is expected to last for at least 12 continuous months, if they are not currently working and making too much money, and they have sufficient work credits to be considered “insured” for SSDI.

You did not mention whether you have still have the capability to work, but if you are not currently able to work it is time to contact the SSA and find out how many work credits you have and whether you meet the nonmedical requirements for SSDI. If you do, it’s time to apply for SSDI benefit.

Will I be approved for Lou Gehrig’s Disease?

The SSA has certain conditions that they consider automatically disabling. In fact, there are currently 200 conditions listed on what is called the Compassionate Allowance List. Listed conditions include Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS), acute leukemia, early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, gallbladder cancer, pancreatic cancer, small cell lung cancer, and hepatocellular carcinoma (a type of liver cancer).

To win benefits for Lou Gehrig’s Disease, assuming you meet the nonmedical requirements, you will simply need to provide medical information and a diagnosis from your treating doctor.

How will Lou Gehrig’s Disease affect your ability to care for your children?

Now you also asked whether your diagnosis would hurt your chances of winning some type of custody of your children.

Courts generally assume that children will benefit if both of their parents are active and present in their child’s life. With this in mind, if the parents cannot create a mutually satisfying parenting plan, the courts will evaluate a list of pre-established criteria prior to make their custodial decisions.

If you have been a supportive and caring parent prior to the divorce the courts will probably try to include you in the custodial plan. The main question the court will review, however, is how much care and custody you can safely provide to your children. This cannot be determined, however, without more information about how your health, how it has already deteriorated, and the ages and capabilities of your children.

For example, if you have to have daily care to feed, bath, and dress yourself it’s unlikely that the court would put you in charge of the care of young children who need similar help. If, however, you are still fully functioning and you do not need any care for your daily physical activities the courts may allow you more time with your children.

Bottom Line:

If you have questions about your condition and the benefits you may be allowed to receive, contact the Social Security Administration (SSA). If you have questions about your custodial rights, contact a divorce lawyer.

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