Social Security offers disability benefits for people with autism disorder having symptoms such as communication problem, trouble understanding what other people think and feel.
Autism spectrum disorder affects how the brain processes information. People with autistic disability may have serious repetitive behavioral patterns, difficulty communicating and impaired social conduct. A medical expert may be able to detect early onset autism in children or later in adults through various neurological, cognitive, and language testing.
Child vs Adult Disability Benefits
While autism is a painless, broad-spectrum disease, early diagnosis may improve symptoms and enable a person to spend his/her life normally. On the other hand, autism can affect both children and adults at any time in their life. A general rule of thumb for SSDI benefits for autism is, if your child is under 18 and has autism, and you have a low income/asset value, then your child may qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) instead of SSDI. On the other hand if you're over 18 and are autistic, then you may qualify for either Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or SSDI, depending on your circumstances.
Autistic Children/Adult Symptoms to Qualify for SSDI
There are two ways in which a person with autism can be found disabled. One is they can meet the symptoms under the disability listing I the blue book of SSA in Section 12.10 for adults and 112.10 for children. While for children, the second option is to 'functionally equal' i.e., meet the autism disability as nearly as possible since autism causes severe or extreme limitations in functioning.
On the other hand, an adult could either meet the autism disability listing in the blue book of SSA or get a 'medical vocational allowance' described further.
Medical Vocational Allowance for Adults with Autism
A vocational expert would be able to determine whether your mental condition as a result of autism is disabling enough to qualify you for disability. Once you apply for SSDI, your disability examiner will look for medical evidence such as intelligence testing, psychological testing, mental status examinations, the Test of Non-Verbal Intelligence, the Leiter International Performance Scale Revised, Wechsler Series and Pea-body Picture Vocabulary Test-Third Edition.
Meeting the Requirements for Autism Spectrum Disorder in the Blue Book of SSA
There are three basic kinds of disorders in the autism spectrum:
- - Autism
- - Pervasive Development Disorder
- - Asperger Syndrome (AS)
- - Childhood Disintegrative Disorder
Although these were considered separate conditions earlier, today they come together and are diagnosed broadly under the autistic spectrum disorder. Some common symptoms include:
- A) Autistic Disorder: Most common of all types, this particular condition refers to problems in communication, social interactions and play in children younger than 3 years.
- B) Pervasive Development Disorder (PDD or Atypical Autism): Although less common, your doctor may use this term for a child with autistic spectrum disorder with symptoms such as delays in communication and social skills.
- C) Asperger's Syndrome: Children with this disorder do not have a particular problem in communication. Infact, people with this type tend to score average or above average in intelligence tests. However, they are mostly detected with social problems and a narrow scope of interests.
- D) Childhood Disintegrative Disorder: People with this type tend to have normal development in the first two years of growth and then develop atypical symptoms losing some or most of their social and communication skills.
While all three conditions are present from birth, it is not uncommon for people with AS and PDD-NOS to be diagnosed until they reach their teen or adult years. Both children and adults need to meet symptoms under any of the above types along with the following disabling affects to their daily functioning, in order to get disability benefits:
- - Significantly restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities
- - Deficits in social interaction
- - Deficits in verbal and nonverbal communication
Symptoms Your DE May Analyze for you to Qualify Under Children's Alternate Method for Autism
- i. How well a child interacts and relates with others.
- ii. Whether a child has good health and physical well-being
- iii. How well a child moves about and manipulates objects
- iv. How well a child cares for himself or herself
- v. How well a child attends to and completes tasks, and
- vi. How well a child acquires and uses information
Adult's Alternate Method Your DE May Use to Analyze Symptoms for SSDI Benefits for Autism
If your condition does not meet the SSDI listing of Impairments under section 12.10 of Blue Book, your disability examiner will analyze you for residual functional capacity (RFC). The RFC form lists out all the limitations that your disability condition might have on your work capacity.
In addition, ruling out other possible work that people with your disability may carry out but you can't would require a formal statement by your doctor/physician or a vocational expert (VE). A VE is experience about the market situations, job demands, skills required to fill certain jobs, limitations of certain conditions/impairments, etc and hence can testify to your condition being severe enough to prevent you from working.
If you're unsure whether you meet the requirements under disability listing for autism spectrum disorder, you may contact our disability attorneys with years of experience and legal help.