Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. According to the Centers for Disease Control, autism affects an estimated 1 in 59 children in the United States today.
We know that there is not one autism but many subtypes, most influenced by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Because autism is a spectrum disorder, each person with autism has a distinct set of strengths and challenges. The ways in which people with autism learn, think, and problem-solve can range from highly skilled to severely challenged. Some people with ASD may require significant support in their daily lives, while others may need less support and, in some cases, live entirely independently.
Several factors may influence the development of autism, and it is often accompanied by sensory sensitivities and medical issues such as gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, seizures or sleep disorders, as well as mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression and attention issues.
Children with autism may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits if their family’s income and assets aren’t above the SSI limits. An adult with autism syndrome can apply for SSI or for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. However, SSDI is available only to those with a work history from jobs that paid Social Security taxes.
Social Security updated its disability listing for autism in 2017. Adult Listing 12.10, “Autistic disorder and other pervasive developmental disorders,” is now titled “Autism spectrum disorder.” The listing requires medical documentation of both:
- qualitative defects in verbal communication, nonverbal communication, and social interaction, and
- significantly restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities;
- extreme limitation of one, or marked limitation of two, of the following areas of mental functioning:
- understanding, remembering, or applying information
- interacting with others
- concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace
- adapting or managing oneself
Individuals whose claims are not approved on the basis of meeting a listing may still be approved on the basis of what is known as a medical-vocational (“grid”) allowance. The Social Security Administration must consider how the totality of all of your medical impairments, including side effects of medications, affect your ability to perform a full-time job.
If you or someone you know is unable to work due to a medical condition, please contact us for a free evaluation of your case!
More on autism and the listings: https://www.autismspeaks.org/world-autism-month
By: Joyce Trudeau of Premier Disability Services, LLC®