Understanding Borderline Intellectual Functioning

A person is said to have borderline intellectual functioning when they demonstrate a lower than average IQ score, generally between 71 and 84. While this is significantly lower than a typically functioning individual’s score, it is also much higher than the Social Security Administration’s stand-alone intellectual disability standard of 59.

There are several possible causes of the condition:

  • Birth injury
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Genetics
  • Infection
  • Exposure to contaminants
  • Fetal alcohol syndrome

By itself, borderline intellectual functioning does not constitute a disability eligible for compensation from the SSA. However, in situations where this cognitive impairment isn’t an individual’s only mental or physical limitation, it can be a supporting aspect in an approved claim.

Obtain an Opinion About Your Limitations

Obtaining a Medical Source Statement from the applicant’s treating physician can help in explicitly demonstrating the exact nature of his or her limitations, and how these limitations impact options for employment.

Individuals with borderline intellectual functioning often struggle with basic workplace tasks, such as learning, making good decisions, planning, logic and abstract thinking. These are documented in an Mental RFC assessment as, work limitations of mental  capacity.

  • Ability to follow instructions: How capable is the individual at comprehending, retaining and following multiple steps of instructions? Is it necessary to break the process down into simple steps that are completed one at a time?
  • Level of necessary supervision: How closely does the person need to be supervised?
  • Training: Can the person be trained? Do they retain training between shifts? Do they typically need to be re-instructed on basic workplace tasks every time they work?
  • Reason and judgment: Can the person consistently make reasonable decisions with regard to workplace concerns? Do they habitually make decisions that might put themselves or others in danger?
  • Social interaction: Can the person reasonably communicate with associates and the general public? Have they ever demonstrated serious problems in social interactions?
  • Pace: Is the person able to complete tasks at a pace appropriate for the workplace?
  • Concentration: Can the person concentrate on job-related tasks? Are they able to successfully shift focus to tasks that arise unexpectedly, or will this cause them to make a lot of mistakes?

Evidence corroborating these cognitive limitations can include:

  • IQ scores
  • Work reviews
  • Paperwork documenting reason for termination
  • School records
  • Statements from teachers, supervisors, social workers; anyone who has experience with the individual’s impairments

Building a claim for a person with borderline intellectual functioning will inevitably present more complications than in situations where the SSA standard is clearly met. Evaluating your case with a Lincoln disability lawyer could help in understanding what benefits you are eligible for and how to best apply for them. Call Cuddigan Law at 402-933-5405 or (402) 261-4005  today. Don’t forget to ask for our free booklet, Give Yourself the Best Chance of Winning Your Social Security Disability Case. We meet with clients in Lincoln ,by appointment, at 3800 Normal Blvd., Ste 201, Lincoln, NE 68506.

Timothy J. Cuddigan
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Omaha Social Security and Veterans Disability Lawyer With Over 40 Years Experience