Autism and Social Security Disability
One in 59 children were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder in 2018, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed with this neuro-developmental disorder than girls.
The autism spectrum refers to the presence of autism, which can be autism itself or the milder form known as Asperger syndrome (AS). Another type of developmental disorder on the autism spectrum is known as pervasive developmental disorder (PDD-NOS), which is a subtype of autism. They all may be officially diagnosed as a child or later in life.
Autism affects all socioeconomic and ethnic groups and the cause is unknown, though environmental factors are considered to be a likely cause as are genetics.
Generally, a child on the autism spectrum will have difficulty interacting with others. It is estimated that about one-third of children with autism are nonverbal. An autistic child, adolescent or adult may not be able to make eye contact, may have trouble forming sentences, and may not respond to emotions or commands.
That does not mean they do not want social contact. Many autistic people are trying to engage, but they may be uncomfortable with traditional social interactions. Oftentimes, these children require a highly structured and repetitive environment.
We are learning that early intervention may help children cope with autism, so they can live as close to an independent life as possible. For some, however, that will not be possible.
The cost of raising a child with autism is estimated to be approximately $60,000 a year in special services and lost wages to the parents, according to the group Autism Speaks.
These children, and later as adults, will need to receive Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) as well as family income and support. First, it’s important to make an accurate diagnosis.
Is My Autistic Child Disabled?
In order to receive any disability benefits from Social Security, your child must be medically documented to have autism or be on the spectrum.
The Social Security Administration has an Impairment Listing Manual to define childhood disability called the Blue Book. It defines the qualifying conditions – mental, physical and cognitive areas – that make one eligible to receive benefits.
Children and adults with autism sometimes have additional complications such as ADHD, epilepsy, schizophrenia, depression, and gastrointestinal disorders, among disorders that need to be considered in a diagnosis.
The disabling conditions listed are an inability to engage socially and deficits in communication along with a limited repertoire of activities and interests; physically the child will display diminished functioning in both fine and gross motor development; the child may have cognitive impairment and an inability to function, maintain concentration, persistence, or pace.
In a practical sense, they may not be able to perform simple tasks like dressing, personal hygiene, and feeding himself.
Social Security Disability Benefits and Autism
It is sad to think that your child may never be able to be a fully functioning adult and will need your help as long as you are alive. Autism Speaks reports that nearly half of 25-year-olds with autism have never held a paying job.
That’s where Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits come in. You may require legal or medical help to navigate the Blue Book, which helps you understand how you qualify for SSDI. Unfortunately, it is very technical and not written for the public, so hiring a disability attorney may improve your odds of receiving benefits.
Once you meet the criteria outlined by Social Security, you increase your chances of being approved for SSDI, Medicaid, and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), intended to provide income for disabled adults and children.
Remember that any income the child and adult earns, and the resources of all of the family members who live with that child, will be taken into account.
Besides Social Security Disability, parents of an autistic child may want to create a special needs trust to help plan for their future when you no longer can. It will be essential for you to seek legal help to gather enough evidence in order to prove disability of your child with autism.
Additionally, if you are denied, you will improve your ability to clear the hurdles with the help of an experienced attorney who can guide you through the complicated world of Social Security disability benefits.
For skilled guidance with obtaining benefits for an autistic individual or any other type of Social Security disability matter, call the office of Walton Law, LLC today at 251-455-5819 to schedule a consultation.
Blue Book, Section 112.00
Autism Speaks – Fact and Figures