According to CDC estimates, 1 out of every 59 children born today will be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.
April is National Autism Awareness Month, a time dedicated to educating the public about the many issues that families affected by autism face and the increasing need for services and support.
While many articles about autism deal with the physical and emotional challenges, many ignore the sometimes overwhelming financial burdens associated with the disorder. Adults with autism may find it difficult to find and maintain substantial work and parents of autistic children must cope with the extra costs of doctors’ visits, therapy, prescription medications as well as special education and daycare requirements.
There’s good news for families and individuals who are facing economic hardships because of autism: they may qualify for Social Security disability benefits.
Who Qualifies for Autism Social Security Disability Benefits?
The specific requirements to receive benefits appears in the SSA’s Blue Book, which organizes physical and mental disorders into separate categories and lists the qualifications an applicant must meet in order to be considered for benefits.
The criteria for qualifying for benefits for autism are stated in Section 12.10 of the SSA Blue Book. They are separated into two paragraphs, A and B. In order to qualify for benefits, you must satisfy the requirements of each paragraph.
Paragraph A of section 12.10 describes the medical criteria required to be considered for benefits. You must be able to supply medical documentation of the following:
- Qualitative deficits in the development of reciprocal social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication skills, and symbolic or imaginative play; And
- Restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities; stagnation of development or loss of acquired skills.
Paragraph A also describes some of the recognized symptoms of autism:
- Abnormalities and unevenness in the development of cognitive skills.
- Unusual responses to sensory stimuli.
- Behavioral difficulties, including hyperactivity, short attention span, impulsivity, aggressiveness.
- Self-injurious actions.
Paragraph B of section 12.10 lists the functional criteria an applicant must meet in order to receive benefits. They include extreme limitation of one, or marked limitation of two, of the following areas of mental functioning:
- Understanding, remembering, or applying information.
- Interacting with others.
- Concentration, persistence, or maintaining pace.
- Adapting or managing oneself
In addition to these requirements, there are also technical eligibility requirements that must be met in order to apply for benefits. Depending on the circumstances, an adult with autism can apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.
SSDI benefits are based on work history and tax contributions, so children usually don’t qualify. SSI is a needs-based benefits program that provides financial benefits to blind, disabled, or elderly individuals who are able to earn little or no income. In the case of a child, his or her family’s income and resources will be determined when approving benefits.
Have You Been Denied Social Security Disability Benefits?
If your Social Security disability claim has been denied, your chances of success on appeal are greatly increased with the help of an experienced Social Security disabilities benefits attorney.
Stanley Whitehead is a board certified Houston Social Security disability benefits attorney who has helped hundreds of families and individuals with disabilities successfully obtain the benefits they need. Call (713) 993-7311 today to schedule a free consultation.