Sometimes it is easy to tell that a person is disabled. A blind person may have a seeing eye dog or cane. An amputee is missing a leg. A person with a bad back may have difficulty sitting or standing for more than a short time.

Some disabilities are hidden or invisible. You can’t tell if a person is depressed or diabetic or asthmatic just by looking at him.

Autism spectrum disorder is characterized by difficulties with social interaction and communication and by unusual behavior patterns such as repetitive activities, pervasive interests, and extreme sensitivity to sounds, textures, lights or smells. However, the severity of symptoms can vary, and no two autistic individuals are alike.

This disorder is included in the Social Security Administration’s Blue Book of qualifying conditions under Section 12.10, Mental Disorders. Most adults with autism spectrum disorder will not qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). In order to qualify for SSDI, you must have held a job for the required number of quarters for a person of your age. Since autism is present from birth, an applicant with a significant work history may find it hard to prove that his disorder affects his ability to hold a job. There is an exception: Adults with autism may apply for SSDI as an adult disabled child if a parent is deceased or receiving retirement or disability benefits.

If you do not qualify as an adult disabled child, you will need to apply for Supplemental Security Income.

In order to receive SSI benefits for autism spectrum disorder, an applicant must have limited income and resources and must be able to show that the symptoms are severe enough to limit the ability to work for pay.

To qualify for SSI under disability listing 12.10, you will need medical documentation of your diagnosis showing all of the following:

  • You have difficulties in social interaction.
  • You have difficulties in verbal and nonverbal communication and in imaginative activity.
  • You have a restricted range of activities and interests.

You will also need to provide documentation of extreme limitation of one or marked limitation of two of the following areas of mental functioning:

  1. Understand, remember, or apply information
  2. Interact with others
  3. Concentrate, persist, or maintain pace
  4. Adapt or manage oneself

Most individuals will have difficulty showing a marked limitation of severity under this paragraph. You should also provide documentation of any other medical or psychological issues. Getting the documentation you need to support an SSI or SSDI claim can be frustrating. Explaining your symptoms is a challenge. For this reason, most autistic applicants are rejected the first time they apply for benefits. Most successful cases are won by showing that the individual is unable to perform any other work on a consistent basis.

Don’t give up! An Omaha disability lawyer can help. Learn how you can increase your odds of having your claim approved in our free booklet, Give Yourself the Best Chance of Winning Your Social Security Disability Case or contact Cuddigan Law at 402-933-5405.

Sean D. Cuddigan
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SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska
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