Dachel Media Update:
LJ Goes, Journal Entry, July 10, 2013

Autism and Social Security Disability Benefits

FutureBy Molly Clarke

Autism, even in high-functioning individuals, can be a debilitating condition. For parents, having a child with autism poses a unique set of challenges. Unfortunately, a common challenge for parents of children with autism is financial instability. Specialty medical care, assistive technology, and educational needs can quickly become expensive.

If you are the parent of child with autism and find that you are having a difficult time making ends meet, you may qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits on your child’s behalf. The following article will provide you with the information needed to collect disability benefits for your son or daughter.

Social Security Disability Benefit Programs

The Social Security Administration provides benefits to disabled individuals through two separate programs—SSDI and SSI.

•    SSDI, or Social Security Disability Insurance, is a program that provides financial assistance to disabled workers and their families. Because eligibility for SSDI is determined based on an applicant’s taxes and work history, children and young adults don’t typically qualify for SSDI payments. If a child’s parent or guardian already receives their own SSDI payments, the child may qualify for dependent benefits under his or her parent’s record. For more information about dependent, or auxiliary benefits, click here. (http://www.disability-benefits-help.org/glossary/auxiliary-benefits)

•    SSI stands for Supplemental Security Income. This program provides benefits to elderly or disabled individuals who earn very little income. Eligibility for SSI is determined by financial need rather than work history. For this reason, SSI is often the best option for disabled children and young adults.  The SSA evaluates an applicant’s income and financial resources to determine eligibility for SSI. In the case of a child, his or her parent’s income will be evaluated. This process is called parental deeming.

If your child is under the age of 18, lives at home, or lives at school but is still subject to parental control, the parent’s income will be subject to the deeming process. Stepparents’ income is also considered here.

Learn more about the technical eligibility for SSI, here.

Autism and Social Security Disability Benefits

In addition to meeting the technical eligibility requirements mentioned above, your child will also have to meet specific medical criteria. These criteria are listed in the SSA’s manual of potentially disabling conditions, known as the blue book.

For a child with autism, the SSA requires the following symptoms:

•    Deficits in development of reciprocal social interaction
•    Deficits in verbal and nonverbal communication
•    Deficits in imaginative activity
•    A “markedly” restricted repertoire of activities and interests

To read the complete blue book listing, click here.

Social Security Disability Application Process

Before you initiate the SSI application process, you will need to collect the necessary medical and financial information to support your child’s claim. Medical documentation should include records of your child’s diagnosis, treatments, and hospitalizations. You should also collect written statements from professional adults that interact with your child on a daily basis. These can be from teachers, coaches, therapists, or doctors and should provide details about your child’s condition and how it interferes with his or her daily life.

Once you are prepared to begin the SSI application, you will be required to complete two different forms—the “Application for SSI” and the “Child Disability Report”. Although the Child Disability Report can be completed online, the applications for SSI cannot. For this reason many parents prefer to schedule an appointment at their local Social Security office to complete both at the same time.

It is important to keep in mind that the Social Security Disability application process can be long and overwhelming. There is always the chance that your child’s application will be denied. If this occurs, you can appeal this decision. The key to being awarded benefits is to remain persistent in your efforts. Once your child’s application is approved you will be able to focus on keeping him or her healthy and happy.

For more information about Social Security Disability benefits, visit Social Security Disability Help or contact Molly Clarke at [email protected].



The required level of severity for autistic disorders is met when the following requirements are satisfied. A doctor must have found the child has: deficits in reciprocal social interaction, deficits in communication and imagination, and
a restricted repertoire of activities and interests. And these deficiencies must cause serious limitations in at least two of the following: communicative/cognitive functioning, social functioning, personal functioning, and/or sustaining concentration, persistence, or pace.

Cindy Fisher

The two videos on this page are fascinating. With Jenny McCarthy's recent addition to The View, immunizations are a hot topic right now. I wish more people would refer to the scientific research rather than accepting interpretations provided for them. Thanks for providing original source material and methodically explaining the history of immunizations and autism.

In the second video, you address three major issues: the rise of autism, the lack of research dollars, and the wish for a cure for those who are impacted at a more severe level, while acknowledging that those who are verbal and accept their autistic neurology do not need a cure (as the idea has offended many).

I posted the videos on my website. Again, I appreciate your work. www.smartsteps4me.com

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