Can You Get Disability for Autism? ASD Disability Benefits From the SSA

From communication problems to sensory issues, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental condition that can really affect a person’s quality of life. It affects how people see and interact with others and often causes problems with communication, social interaction and repetitive behaviors.

In some cases, these problems can make it impossible to work or do daily tasks.

To help autistic people who are struggling to work, the Social Security Administration (SSA) offers disability benefits to those who meet certain requirements.

But can you get disability for autism? SSD eligibility is tough and many applicants face roadblocks in getting their claim approved. Here’s what you need to know about getting social security with autism.

Getting Social Security Disability for Autism: Key Takeaways

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can get you disability benefits from the SSA if it prevents you from working and doing daily activities.
  • Eligibility: You must provide medical evidence showing severe limitations in communication, social interaction and repetitive behaviors.
  • SSA’s Blue Book: Autism is listed in the SSA’s Blue Book under mental disorders, sections 112.10 for children and 12.10 for adults.
  • Challenges: Proving eligibility is tough due to SSA’s strict criteria and need for extensive documentation of how autism affects daily living.
  • Legal Help: Working with a disability lawyer can increase your chances of getting approved by helping you navigate the application and appeal process.

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)? Symptoms and Side Effects

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a broad developmental condition that affects social interaction, communication and behavior. Symptoms usually appear in early childhood, often before the age of 2. These can include difficulty with eye contact, delayed speech and repetitive movements.

ASD includes autism, Asperger’s syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD-NOS). Each autistic person has their own set of symptoms and varying levels of severity, which sometimes allows people to live independently and sometimes does not.

Some may have normal or above average intelligence but struggle with social skills and adapting to change. Understanding the wide range of symptoms is key to recognizing and managing autism.

Is Autism a Disability According to the SSA Blue Book?

Yes, autism is a Blue Book disability according to the Social Security Administration (SSA). The SSA’s Blue Book is a guide that lists the medical conditions that qualify for disability benefits and the requirements for each.

Autism is listed under mental disorders, sections 112.10 for children and 12.10 for adults. These sections outline the medical evidence and functional limitations needed to qualify for disability benefits. For children, it’s about deficits in communication, social interaction and repetitive behaviors.

For adults, it’s about how these symptoms affect your ability to work and do daily activities. Meeting the Blue Book criteria is key to getting disability for autism.

How Hard Is it to Get Disability for Autism?

Getting disability for autism is tough due to SSA’s strict criteria. Applicants must provide extensive medical documentation showing how autism prevents them from functioning in daily life and working. This includes evidence of persistent symptoms that limit communication, social interaction and behaviors despite treatment.

The process involves detailed exams from healthcare providers including doctors, psychologists and therapists. Many initial applications are denied so it’s important to present thorough and accurate information. Persistence and a well prepared appeal can increase your chances of approval if denied.

Getting Disability for Mental Health Issues

Proving mental health conditions as a disability for Social Security benefits is tough. Unlike physical conditions, mental health issues don’t have visible symptoms so it’s harder to document and verify.

The SSA requires extensive and consistent medical records that show how the condition affects daily life and work ability. Applicants must provide detailed evidence from mental health professionals including diagnoses, treatment histories and personal statements about how their condition affects their functioning.

Variability in symptoms and the subjective nature of mental health conditions makes this process more complicated so it’s important to gather thorough documentation and possibly seek legal help to strengthen your case.

Persistence and preparation is key to overcoming these obstacles and getting the benefits you need.

SSA Disability Criteria

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has specific criteria for disability across all conditions. To qualify you must show substantial limitations in daily living. This means showing significant difficulties in verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction, as well as evidence of restrictive or repetitive behaviors or interests.

The SSA looks for extreme limitations in one area or marked limitations in two areas of mental functioning. These areas are: understanding and applying information, interacting with others, maintaining focus and concentration, and managing oneself.

These criteria help the SSA determine the severity of your condition and how it affects daily activities and work. Meeting these requirements is key to getting support for any type of disability.

Which Autism Symptoms Might Limit Your Ability to Work?

Several autism symptoms can limit a person’s ability to work. Social interaction and communication challenges can hinder workplace relationships and understanding job expectations.

Repetitive behaviors and rigid routines can conflict with the need for flexibility and adaptability in most jobs. Sensory sensitivities can be overwhelming in a typical work environment making it hard to focus or be comfortable.

Difficulty understanding instructions, maintaining concentration and managing time can also impact job performance. Knowing these symptoms and how they limit work capabilities is important to document the impact of autism in a disability claim.

Other Medical Conditions & Comorbidites That May Help You Get Disability for Autism

Many autistic people also have other medical conditions or comorbidities that can support their disability claim. Conditions like anxiety, depression, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), epilepsy and gastrointestinal disorders are common with autism. These comorbidities can make managing autism symptoms even more difficult and increasing the difficulty in daily functioning and working. Showing how these additional conditions interact with autism to create significant impairments is important in a disability application, and thorough medical records of these coexisting conditions can strengthen the claim.

Medical Evidence You’ll Need for Your Autism Disability Claim

To support an autism disability claim and receive Social Security disability benefits, you’ll need to gather thorough and detailed medical evidence. This evidence must show how autism affects daily life and work.

Medical Records

Get medical records from multiple healthcare providers. This includes diagnoses, treatment plans and detailed notes from doctors, therapists and specialists. Records should document the history of autism symptoms, how it affects daily living and any interventions or treatments received.

Medical Evidence

In addition to medical records, other forms of evidence such as psychological evaluations, speech and occupational therapy reports and educational assessments can provide a broader picture of the individual’s condition. These documents will establish the severity of autism and how it affects the individual’s ability to function.

Evidence that Work Triggers Your Symptoms

It’s important to show how work or work related activities trigger autism symptoms. This might be statements from employers or coworkers, job performance reviews or examples of how work demands trigger significant difficulties. Showing this connection can help prove autism impairs the ability to work.

Proof of Other Conditions

Also document any other medical conditions or comorbidities that interact with autism. This includes medical reports and treatment histories for conditions like anxiety, depression or ADHD. Showing how these conditions compound autism can be key in the disability determination process.

How to Apply for Autism Disability Benefits

Applying for autism disability benefits involves many steps whether you’re applying for SSI or SSDI. Knowing the requirements and being prepared can make a big difference.

Applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) with Autism

SSDI is for people who have worked and paid Social Security taxes, can no longer work and earn less than $1,550 per month. To qualify with autism you must show that your condition prevents you from working. This means providing lots of medical evidence and showing how autism affects daily living and job performance. Being eligible for SSDI benefits also depends on having enough work credits which are earned based on your earnings history.

Also SSDI eligibility depends on your work history and the number of work credits you’ve earned. Work credits are earned by working and paying Social Security taxes. In 2024 for example, one work credit is earned for every $1,640 in wages up to a maximum of four credits per year. The number of credits you need varies by age. Generally younger people need fewer credits but most applicants will have worked at least 5 of the last 10 years before becoming disabled.

Applying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) with Autism

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) provides financial support to individuals with autism who have limited income and resources. To qualify you need to meet specific medical criteria by submitting documentation that shows how autism affects your daily living. This includes medical records and assessments from doctors and therapists that show the challenges autism creates in daily functioning.

If you have no work history, getting SSI for autism spectrum disorder can help create financial stability and give you access to benefits like healthcare, housing, and food benefits, as well.

SSI eligibility means your household income and resources must be below certain limits. For children the SSA looks at the parents’ income and resources, for adults you must show you earn less than $1,550 per month and have less than $2,000 in assets on hand.. Meeting these financial criteria is key to qualifying for benefits.

Besides the financial benefit, to receive SSI benefits also means access to Medicaid which can cover medical expenses related to autism, such as therapies and medications.

Work With a Disability Lawyer to Improve Your Odds of Approval

Applying for Social Security for autism can be confusing and overwhelming, but working with a disability lawyer can be a huge help. Disability lawyers know the SSA criteria, how to gather and present medical evidence and how to handle appeals if your claim is denied. They can walk you through each step from the initial application to the hearing. Plus disability lawyers usually work on a contingency basis which means you only pay if you win. Their help can make a big difference in getting you the benefits you need and reduce the stress and burden of this process.

Shay Fleming is the SEO Content Manager at LeadingResponse. A proud graduate of Texas State University, she has been based in Austin since 2016, where she lives with her dog. Shay has contributed extensively to various domains, writing and publishing articles about real estate, investing, disability, and urban living.