Should I file my two children diagnosed with muscular dystrophy as disabled if they don’t show any symptoms yet?

by Loretta M. Tubiello-Harr, CPA | Jan 21, 2019
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My two children (ages 2 years and 7 months) have been diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. This condition causes the muscles to deteriorate over time. Usually by the time they are 13 to 15 they'll be committed to wheelchairs and have severe medical problems. Would this diagnosis make my two children considered disabled when filing, even though they are really young and don’t currently show symptoms?

There are two sections of the tax code that allow specific tax benefits for children with disabilities if additional specific criteria are met: the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the establishment of an ABLE account.

To prove your claim of EITC for a child who is permanently and totally disabled, you need a letter from the child’s doctor, other health care provider, or social service program or agency verifying the child is permanently and totally disabled.
 
An individual is eligible to establish an ABLE account if, during the tax year, the individual is entitled to benefits based on blindness or disability under the Social Security disability insurance program or the Supplemental Security (SSI) program, and that blindness or disability occurred before the date on which the individual reached age 26; or a disability certification has been filed with the IRS for the tax year.
 
To qualify for Social Security benefits, the child has to have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment or impairments that result in marked and severe functional limitations; and the impairment(s) lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months or be expected to result in death. There are other criteria for blindness not further addressed for this purpose. To determine if your child's disease is considered a disability for SSI, go to https://www.ssa.gov/compassionateallowances and you can fill out an application for determination, as Duchenne muscular dystrophy is not listed as a disease considered for disability.

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Answered by: Loretta M. Tubiello-Harr, CPA, is a principal with Tubiello-Harr & Associates LLC in Coopersburg, Pa.

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The responses are based on the limited information provided by the questioner and apply the laws and regulations at the time of posting. Other options could arise as rules and regulations may change over time, including but not limited to the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. They are intended to provide general information, not specific accounting or tax advice; they are not intended or written to be used and cannot be used for the purpose of avoiding or evading taxes or penalties under the IRS code or regulations. Views expressed do not imply an opinion of the PICPA, its officers, directors, employees, or members.
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