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Social Security Disability and autism

On Behalf of | Feb 8, 2012 | Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Earlier this week we wrote about the potentially changing definition of autism in the American Psychiatric Association’s upcoming revisions to its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Under the proposed changes, the number of children who are diagnosed will likely decrease significantly. This may affect the number of children who qualify for Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income benefits.

However, a diagnosis of autism may not be completely necessary to receive SSD or SSI benefits. If the application includes proof that the child suffers certain deficits and impairments, he or she may be approved for SSD or SSI.

Autism is a neurodevelopment disorder that is generally present from birth. It primarily affects communication and social interaction skills, and can also manifest in restrictive and compulsive behavior and self-injury. Some of these behaviors can be severe.

Several studies have concluded that at least one-third of autistic people fail to develop communication skills sufficient to meet the needs of daily life. As such, autistic people can have difficulty getting and holding jobs, finding suitable living arrangements and similar issues. These significantly increase the need for Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income.

In order to be approved for SSD or SSI benefits for autism, an applicant must provide medical evidence that he or she has deficits in reciprocal social interaction, deficits in communication, and a restricted repertoire of interests and activities. In turn, these deficiencies must result in serious limitations in at least two of the following: cognitive/communicative functioning, social functioning, personal functioning, or sustaining concentration, persistence and pace.

Source:, “Social Security Disability and SSI Benefits for Autism

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