Is ADHD a Disability?
In recent years we have become more aware of the profound effects that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and other psychiatric conditions can have on people of all ages.
While medication, cognitive behavioral therapy and other treatments can be effective at moderating its effects, in severe cases the condition can strongly limit the affected individual’s ability to hold a job. While it is rare for disability benefits to be awarded for ADHD alone, the condition is listed in the Social Security Administration’s Blue Book of eligible childhood disorders, which means that certain extreme cases are eligible.
Signs and Symptoms of ADHD
The causes of ADHD are generally not fully understood. The condition typically develops in childhood, though a large percentage will continue to display symptoms throughout their lives.
Symptoms include difficulty maintaining focus on a task, poor attention to detail, inability to follow instructions and forgetfulness. Someone affected with ADHD will often fidget constantly, talk nonstop or display poor social skills including interrupting others, blurting out inappropriate comments and acting impulsively.
While ADHD can occur on its own, it is also associated with conditions such as Tourette’s syndrome, anxiety disorders, OCD and more. When not treated, children with ADHD have a tendency to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol in an effort to control their symptoms.
The Social Security Administration oversees two different federal disability programs. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is based on need and awarded to people who both meet the medical diagnostic criteria and have limited income or assets. Eligibility for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), on the other hand, is based on employment history and available to anyone who has paid a certain amount into Social Security through payroll taxes paid over their lifetime of working.
Does My Child Qualify for Disability If They Have ADHD?
Getting disability for ADHD isn’t easy. Generally speaking, benefits are denied to all but the most severe cases. In order to qualify, you will have to provide medical evidence that you or your loved one:
- Suffer from marked inattention, impulsiveness and hyperactivity.
- Has severe difficulty compared to his or her peers in two of the following: cognitive or communicative function, social ability, personal functioning and concentration, persistence and pace.
Because the above criteria are subjective, it can be very hard to prove that ADHD is severe enough to qualify for disability. Supporting documents that can be useful include treatment notes from a doctor or child psychiatrist, reports and evaluations from teachers, and IQ or other intelligence testing. Many people who are considering applying rely on an ADHD disability attorney to help them collect the appropriate evidence and improve their odds of success.
Lisa M. Ritacco is an experienced disability lawyer for ADHD-affected families who may be able to help you get the benefits your child needs. Contact our office to schedule your free consultation today.