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Did Your Newborn Suffer Cerebral
Palsy or Another Brain Injury Before
or During Labor and Delivery?

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Our Birth Brain Injury Resource Guide

the guide

Get a FREE guide of resources available throughout Ohio to children and families of children who were born with brain injuries.

Our guide can help you build a foundation of knowledge and tools that will help you help your child
now and in the future.

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Meconium Aspiration – Financial Assistance

Discovering that your infant has aspirated meconium is in itself a stressful and anxiety-filled experience. Even though most infants go home within a few days, for the most part in good health, a small minority need to stay at the hospital for further (and sometimes) have invasive treatment.

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Not only is this stressful because you are obviously very concerned for your newborn’s well-being, but this can also cause stress because you are concerned about what your hospital bill is going to amount to.

Moreover, if your infant is one of the few who develops long-term complications from meconium aspiration, it is likely that your childcare, healthcare, and education expenses are going to be significantly higher than you expected.

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In the rare instances that meconium aspiration is severe and has serious long-term consequences, the complications are typically lung/breathing problems or long-term brain or neurological damage. Particularly if brain damage has occurred due to hypoxia (an oxygen shortage in the body) caused by the meconium aspiration, an infant may have long term complications in the form of seizures, cerebral palsy, developmental difficulties, or mental or physical disabilities. Your doctors will want to monitor your infant closely, and your infant may have more doctors’ visits and tests than the average baby. Further, depending on the particular long-term effects of the meconium aspiration on the child, you may have more appointments with physical therapists and other specialists as your child gets older, as well as purchase specialized equipment to help alleviate any developmental challenges and pay for specialized tutoring and childcare. If you are worried about how you are going to afford these additional costs and expenses, please know that there are resources available to you to receive financial as well as other types of support. Below is a list of some (but not all) of the government resources that may be able to provide you with financial relief.
  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI): SSDI is a government program meant to provide financial aid to workers who are disabled and no longer able to work. While there are specific eligibility requirements to be able to receive SSDI payments, typically related to having worked a certain number of years and having paid into social security for a minimum amount of time, children of those receiving SSDI can be eligible for SSDI benefits. Moreover, if anybody in an infant’s family receives SSDI, the infant can receive SSDI benefits under that family member’s work record. The SSDI benefits the infant receives can, in some instances, be continued into the child’s adolescence and adulthood.
  • Social Security Insurance (SSI): unlike SSDI, for which eligibility is premised on a worker’s disability, an infant with a disability can be eligible for SSI financial help if certain income eligibility requirements are met. Specifically, the child (1) must not be making more than $1,170 per month (2017 guidelines and the income of the child’s immediate household family is also taken into account); (2) must have physical or mental condition(s)/disabilities that result in “marked and severe functional limitations,” such that the child is limited from partaking in many activities, and (3) the condition(s)/disabilities must be disabling for at least 12 months or expected to result in death. For certain conditions (including cerebral palsy and severe intellectual disabilities), your infant may be eligible for SSI even while the Social Security Administration and the state agency is deciding whether the child qualifies for SSI payments – without the risk of having to reimburse payments already made if SSI aid is ultimately denied.
  • Medicare: even though Medicare is usually associated with government-guaranteed health care for retirees/elderly persons over 65, children with certain disabilities can also qualify for Medicare insurance. Your child may qualify for Medicare if they are eligible for and have been receiving SSI benefits for 24 months.
  • Medicaid: again, if your child qualifies for SSI benefits, they will usually also qualify for Medicaid coverage. For some disabilities and conditions, infants and children may qualify for Medicaid even if they do not qualify for SSI benefits. Medicaid is a government insurance program that provides various types of medical coverage for those who qualify.
  • Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP): this is an insurance program whereby states provide health insurance to infants and children whose families’ income is too high to be eligible for Medicaid, but for whom private insurance is still prohibitively expensive.
Note that, in addition to the programs above, your particular state may have additional benefits, including but not limited to increased payment amounts for SSI coverage or more lenient eligibility requirements for Medicaid or Medicare. As such, it is best to get in touch with your state’s Medicaid office and Social Security office in the first instance to determine what financial support options there are for you in your state.