Q: Can I apply for disability benefits with autism?
Disability Attorneys of Arizona is dedicated to helping people access disability benefits from one–or sometimes both–of the federal government’s two Social Security disability benefits programs.
While those programs are different, and the majority of applicants would potentially qualify for only one or the other, both programs share the same definition of “disabled”, which is “the inability to engage in substantial gainful activity due to a medically determinable impairment that has lasted or is expected to last a minimum of 12 months or will result in death.” The government has a list extensive list of the physical and mental impairments which may qualify.
Autism is one of the conditions on the list.
According to Autism Speaks, “autism or autism spectrum disorder, refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication.”
Autism is a complicated disorder in that the symptoms and severity vary greatly from individual to individual, but even those with mild symptoms may be unable to work. Despite years of ongoing research and theories on the disorder, there is no definitive cause and no cure. Approximately 1 in 59 children in the United States is affected.
While it’s possible that an adult with autism may have worked enough work credits before becoming otherwise disabled and unable to work (so as to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance “SSDI”), the vast majority of applicants with autism would more likely qualify for Supplemental Security Income “SSI” disability benefits instead.
To qualify for SSI benefits, there is no work history requirement. Instead, SSI is a means-tested program available to disabled people of any age that meet the “medical eligibility and financial limitations threshold requirements” of the program. In order to qualify, applicants must have extremely limited income and assets. SSI is available to both children and adults.
With any disability benefits application, having proper supporting medical records is imperative, but mental impairments-based applications are often denied when the records include vague treatment notes or lack sufficient details.
While there are other requirements as well as testing that may be required to support an application, applicants over 18 might qualify for benefits under an autism diagnosis if they have “limitations in activities of daily living; difficulty interacting socially for any length of time; trouble concentrating, completing, or finishing tasks at a reasonable pace; and/or repeated and lengthy episodes of decompensation, which are times and symptoms are more pronounced.” A skilled disability benefits attorney can provide further guidance in each particular case. Children must satisfy different requirements, depending on their age bracket.
Contact Our Phoenix Disability Benefits Attorney
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with autism and needs assistance applying for disability benefits, or appealing the denial of benefits, the experts at Roeschke Law can help you. Contact us today for a free consultation.
From our offices in Tempe, Tucson, and Phoenix, Arizona, we help clients throughout the state in all aspects of disability law.