June 8, 2018

Autism and Social Security Disability Benefits

As an Indiana Social Security Disability Attorney, I have noticed an increase in the number of children and young adults diagnosed with Autism.  My office takes great pride in helping these individuals get the benefits they deserve.  Preparing these claims for the Social Security Administration (SSA) usually takes a focused approach to show an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) the severity of this condition.  This blog will briefly outline some of the information I believe is important in proving a claim for an individual who experiences Autism.

The good news is that the SSA does recognize Autism as a disabling condition.  In the SSA’s Listing of Impairments, Autism is covered under Listing 112.10 for children and 12.10 for adults.  Using these guidelines, a Social Security disability lawyer can craft arguments to help show the person qualifies for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.  Many times, a Medical Source Statement may be obtained by a treating source showing that the applicant meets these criteria.

Through years of representing those with Autism, I have noticed many common symptoms that are considered severe by the SSA.  These can include, but are not limited to:

  • Social impairments
  • Communication impairments
  • Heightened sensitivity to noise, food, clothing, etc.
  • Repetitive behaviors
  • Other medical conditions linked to Autism

This brief list is not intended to be all inclusive because Autism is on a spectrum, and the symptoms may vary in severity and existence from individual to individual. The ability to function may also vary greatly from person to person so, as an attorney representing children or young adults with Autism, it is very important to identify which symptoms are the most severe.

When preparing clients for a disability hearing, I try to ask as many questions concerning their disability to find out what aspects of the case should be concentrated on. If the claimant is a child, I ask about what special education services the child receives at school. Typically, a school will document the child’s accommodations, grades, and behaviors.  If the claimant is an adult, I will ask about vocational rehabilitation or services provided by a job coach. These are just two examples.  While disability claims for Autism can be complicated, knowing the right questions to ask and the proper arguments to make to the SSA can be the difference between a successful claim and an unsuccessful one.

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