Children who fall on the autism spectrum are unique in many ways, and Social Security Disability laws and requirements need to account for that.
Each child who is on the autism spectrum needs special attention and support to live a happy and productive life. That type of care varies a great deal based on the child and how severe their autism may be.
Autism is a condition that will often affect someone for the rest of their lives. Therapy and treatment help a great deal, but they usually need to continue throughout someone’s life to be completely effective.
Social security disability benefits are available to those who are on the autism spectrum, both children and adults. It can help with medical care and living expenses to support your child, whether he or she is a minor or an adult.
Is Autism Considered a Disability?
For purposes of getting social security benefits, severe forms of autism are considered a disability. Whether someone’s autism will qualify them for SSD will depend on their age and level of functioning.
The same definition of disability generally applies as it relates to autism. Specifically, the social security administration requires that the individual be unable to engage in substantial gainful activity because of a medically determinable physical or mental impairment. The impairment must be expected to last more than 12 months or result in death.
Generally, autism meets the length requirement because there is no complete cure for this condition yet. That means that you can get disability for autism.
Children on the Autism Spectrum: Disability Options
Because kids do not have employment, they use Supplemental Security Income (SSI) rather than Social Security Disability (SSD) to get benefits for autism.
Children must still meet certain requirements to get SSI, even if they are medically diagnosed with the condition, however.
The criteria to get benefits include:
- Having a condition that seriously limits his or her activities
- The condition is expected to last more than one year
To show that a child’s activities are limited, you must generally prove that he or she has delayed social and communication skills for their age. Often, a combination of records from your child’s school and their medical doctor will be necessary to show this type of impairment.
Children must also have little to no income or resources. However, the parents’ income and resources are also considered to make this determination.
Adult Children with Autism and Disability Benefits
Adults who fall on the autism spectrum are treated slightly differently than children. They must not be able to engage in substantial gainful activity, rather than simply “activities.”
Adults also have to show that they have trouble with things like:
- Social interactions
- Daily activities
These are in addition to the traditional signs and symptoms of autism.
Adults may be able to qualify for both SSI and SSD benefits for autism, but benefits can only come from one of these programs.
Factors that Affect Disability Amounts
Children and adults with autism are entitled to different amounts for their disability benefits.
Because benefits for children with autism fall under SSI rather than SSD, they are calculated differently.
Children with Autism and SSI Benefits
Benefits for children will vary because it depends on their parents’ income and assets. The base amount of benefits for SSI as of 2019 is $771.
Factors that affect disability amounts and whether your child will qualify for SSI include:
- Any income earned by the child
- Income earned by the parents
- How your “room and board” is paid for
You may not actually know what your autism SSI benefit amount will be until after the SSA determines that your child can receive benefits.
SSD benefits vary based on the average wage that you have been able to earn throughout your life. If an adult child has never worked, then receiving SSD benefits is not an option. Instead, you will have to rely on SSI instead.
However, when an adult child turns 18, he or she no longer has to include the parents’ income in the resources calculation, which often significantly increases the benefits that the adult child can receive.
Getting Benefits For Children On The Autism Spectrum: Will I be Denied?
Unfortunately, children with autism often do not qualify because of the income limitations imposed on those who can receive benefits.
They may fit all of the medical qualifications, but the child’s parents have too many resources to get benefits. It is unfortunate that a child with autism can be denied SSI because of factors beyond his or her control.
Not every child with autism will qualify for benefits based on their medical needs, either.
Showing that a child’s autism is severe enough to warrant benefits can be difficult in some situations.
Getting your child the right medical care can help with the benefit application process. Adequate treatment is also important to set your child up to live a happy and productive life as well.
Contact Our SSD Team for Help
At Krasno, Krasno, & Onwudinjo, our team of Social Security Disability attorneys can help you get the best for your child.
Sometimes that means getting extra help from SSI to ensure that your child has access to medical care and other resources. Our team can help with the application process and increase your chances of getting SSI benefits.
Contact us today to learn more or to set up a free consultation.