There are two programs that people with autism can use to receive Social Security disability benefits: the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program and the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. People with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) generally don't qualify for SSDI benefits, but they can often receive SSI benefits.

At Cuddigan Law, our experienced Social Security disability attorneys help individuals with autism spectrum disorder receive the benefits they need to get by. We understand how difficult it is to deal with the symptoms of ASD and we will help you every step of the way, from filing your initial claim to appealing a denial.

What the SSA Blue Book Says About Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism spectrum disorder is included in the Social Security Administration’s Blue Book of qualifying conditions under Section 12.10, Mental Disorders. The severity of symptoms associated with autism can vary, and no two autistic individuals are alike. However, common symptoms include:

  • Impaired social interaction
  • Problems with verbal and nonverbal communication
  • Repetitive behaviors
  • Narrow, obsessive interests
  • Problems with motor skills
  • Sensory sensitivities

Applying for SSDI Benefits

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.

One noteworthy exception to this rule involves adult disabled children with parents who receive benefits. Adults with autism may apply for SSDI as an adult disabled child if a parent is deceased or receiving retirement or disability benefits.

Applying for SSI Benefits

If you do not qualify for SSDI benefits, 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

You should also provide documentation of any other medical or psychological issues.

How an Experienced Omaha SSDI Lawyer Can Help

Getting the documentation you need to support a Social Security disability for autism claim can be frustrating. Explaining your symptoms is a challenge because autism is largely a “hidden” disability. Most people with ASD can function in society and many are highly intelligent. They learn to mask their symptoms to fit in, which makes it difficult for those closest to them to understand the full extent of their disability.

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 SSDI lawyer can help you get the benefits you deserve. Your lawyer can:

  • Help you collect the evidence you need to win your Social Security disability for autism claim.
  • Help you understand the process and what to expect.
  • Help you appeal a denial of benefits.

Contact Cuddigan Law at 402-933-5405 for a free consultation with an experienced Omaha SSDI lawyer. 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.

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