A Comprehensive Cerebral Palsy Resource

Legal Protection



Depending on the severity of his or her cerebral palsy, your child may or may not be legally entitled to social security disability benefits.  Mild cerebral palsy does not qualify for benefits.  However, benefits are available if it is determined basic daily activities such as walking, speech, sight, or hearing are significantly affected.

The Social Security Administration requires your child to be affected by one of the following in order to receive benefits:

  • An IQ of 70 or less
  • Requiring crutches or braces to stand
  • Serious difficulty talking, seeing, or hearing
  • Substantial difficulty performing fine motor tasks such as writing
  • Intense behavior issues involving emotional instability or destructiveness

If your son or daughter does not meet one of the above criteria, the Social Security Administration considers the impairments he or she has on his or her ability to perform daily activities.


Like SSDI, SSI does not cover mild cerebral palsy cases.  In order to qualify for SSI, your child must meet the following requirements:

Severe motor dysfunction.  Your child must have severe difficulty moving his or her limbs in order to walk, stand, or use his or her hands.  To the Social Security Administration, this means he or she struggles performing age-appropriate daily activities because:

  • Of a lack of coordination of two extremities that disrupts walking and standing OR
  • Of a lack of coordination of two extremities that disrupts fine and gross motor movements

In daily life, this means that if your child cannot perform age-appropriate activities without a substantial amount of support, he or she probably qualifies for SSI.

Moderate motor dysfunction.  If your child does not have severe enough motor impairments to qualify for SSI under the severe motor dysfunction definition, he or she must be affected by more than slight movement problems, in addition to at least one of the following:

  • An IQ of 70 or less
  • A seizure disorder, including a minimum of one major seizure in the last year
  • A speech, hearing, or eyesight impairment that causes difficulty communicating (examples include stuttering, poor articulation, or poor visual acuity)
  • A diagnosed emotional or mental disorder such as depression or ADD

Maternity Leave

Maternity leave is the time mothers (and in some cases fathers), are allowed to take off from work in order to be present for the birth of your child.  Among developed nations, the United States is unusual in that it does not have a national policy on maternity leave.

Maternity leave policies vary widely by state.   A few companies allow up to six weeks of paid time off, but in most cases, you will have to use a combination of short-term disability, sick time, vacation time, personal time off, and unpaid leave to cover your time off from work.

In 1993, the Family Medical Leave Act entitled most workers 12 weeks off for birth.  However, it does not cover smaller companies and only guarantees unpaid leave time.

In the U.S., California is the only state mandating paid time off for maternal or paternal leave.