Not Just a Normal Day

by Nicole Lauer

April 17th seems like a normal day for most people, but for me… it’s a landmine. April 17th will always be a part of my soul. It was the day I went into labor. It was the day my doctor sat next to me, her eyes filled with tears, and told me there was nothing they could do to save my son once he made his arrival. It’s a date when I wake up and can remember every small detail of that day back in 2018. It’s a date I hope and pray our family and friends remember because the thought of my son being forgotten crushes me. It’s a date I hope and pray no one invites us anywhere because I don’t want to have to explain that I am too sad or that it’s a sacred day for me. 

It’s been three years since we lost our baby boy, Kade, who was born prematurely on April 17th, 2018. Since then, I’ve gone through all the motions- the guilt of my body failing my baby, the anger at the family and friends who didn’t attend his funeral and don’t acknowledge his existence, the sadness of not getting to see my baby grow up.

When April comes each year, I brace myself. I brace myself for the heartbreaking memories that are about to come back up. As the months and years pass by, the milestones that will never be pile up. No one realizes that these milestones cut at your heart. That sometimes, grief is as raw as the day you held your child as they took their last breath. Sometimes grief can bring you to your knees without warning. People forget that because you carry your grief well and cover your grief with a smile. 

Even though three years have passed, it is still very raw for me. I am still a mom to a beautiful son- I just parent him differently. I don’t get to take thousands of pictures of him. Instead, I have just seven that I will cherish forever. Instead of planning his birthday party, I decorate his grave. Instead of inviting family and friends over for his birthday, I invite them to wear blue on his birthday in his remembrance. Instead of buying him birthday presents, I go through the fireproof safe we have of his belongings- I hold the blanket I held him in close to my heart.

I remember seeing his little body on the sonogram screen the morning before I went into labor. He was healthy. He was strong. He was moving around like crazy. My body had other plans for him. One minute he was part of me. The next minute, I was holding him on my chest, telling him how much I loved him, and then had to tell him it was okay to go, that he didn’t have to hold on any longer. I watched him take his first breath and I watched him take his last…both only 99 minutes apart. I remember the nurse walking out of my hospital room, holding my baby. It was the last time I would ever see him. He was gone. My nurse’s name was Michele. My mom passed away from cancer just months before we lost our son- her name was Michele. As I saw Michele walk out with my baby boy in her arms, I knew he was with my mom in Heaven. I knew he was going to be okay.

April 17th will never be a normal day for me. I will always save that day to remember my baby. I will always wear blue. Though he wasn’t here long, he was here. His tiny life mattered and will always matter.

Kade David Lauer, you are so loved. Happy third birthday, my angel. 

How a Premature Baby Can Qualify For Disability Benefits

by Rachel Gaffney, Outreach Specialist

A premature baby can have serious health problems that require one parent to stop working and be the person in charge of the baby’s health care. During this stressful time the last thing new parents need is the financial strain that can come from losing an income. 

The Social Security Administration’s Supplemental Support Income program may be able to help ease that burden for parents. If the child qualifies for SSI benefits the benefits will be paid to the parents to help pay for the child’s expenses. A premature baby with serious health problems may qualify for SSI benefits. 

Qualifying For Preemptive Disability Benefits
A premature baby with low birth weight may qualify immediately for SSI benefits if the child’s medical condition meets the criteria set by the SSA for Presumptive Disability. If your child qualifies for Presumptive Disability benefits that means that you will start to receive benefits immediately because your child will probably qualify and the SSA knows that parents need the benefit money to help take care of the child. Your child should qualify for Presumptive Disability if their birth weight falls into one of these categories:

  • 4 pounds, 6 ounces (2,000 grams) if born at 37 weeks or later
  • 4 pounds, 2 ounces (1,875 grams) if born at 36 weeks
  • 3 pounds, 12 ounces (1,700 grams) if born at 35 weeks
  • 3 pounds, 5 ounces (1,500 grams) if born at 34 weeks
  • 2 pounds, 15 ounces (1,325 grams) if born at 33 weeks, or
  • 2 pounds, 10 ounces (1,200 grams) if born at any gestational age.

You can receive benefits for up to six months while the SSA decides if your baby is eligible for benefits. Often your local SSA office will determine if your baby is eligible. Babies born with cerebral palsy also qualify for Presumptive Disability benefits. 

Other Ways a Premature Baby Can Qualify
Premature babies who don’t qualify for Presumptive Disability benefits can still qualify for SSI benefits. Review the SSA’s Blue Book with your child’s doctor to determine if any conditions your baby is experiencing qualify for benefits. There are hundreds of listings in the Blue Book, including lung conditions, hearing and vision listings, as well as neurological and developmental disabilities. 

Many claims are denied due to lack of medical evidence. When applying for benefits, make sure to provide as much medical evidence as you can. This includes different test results, doctors notes, any scans or x-rays and prescriptions. 

Financial Qualifications
Parents must also qualify financially in order to receive SSI benefits for their child. All of the adults in the household that work full time will have to submit a W-2 or a Federal tax return to show that the total income of the household is below the cap set by the SSA. The income limit can change based on number of parents and child in each household.

Applying For SSI
You can begin the application SSI benefits for your child online. You will then need to complete the application at your local SSA office or over the phone. If you have questions about the process or about the claim it’s best to make an appointment and apply in person locally. 

Presumptive Disability Benefits:

SSA Blue Book:

Medical Evidence:

Income Limit:

Online Application:

SSA Offices:

Rachel Gaffney is an Outreach Specialist at Disability Benefits Center, an independent organization dedicated to helping people of all ages receive the Social Security disability benefits they deserve. She currently lives in Boston, Mass. but helps those seeking assistance nationwide. If you have any questions on this article or would like a little more information on how to qualify for disability benefits, she can be reached at

Write for Us!

Would you like to share your story with the Graham's Foundation community? Interested in becoming a regular blogger for Graham's Foundation? Fill out the form here.