Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), commonly known as autism, is a neurological condition affecting millions of Americans. According to statistics from the CDC, approximately one child in 54 in the U.S. suffers from some form of autism, as well as about two percent of the nation’s population over the age of 18. That equates to about 5.4 million autistic people 18 or older in the U.S.
What Type of Disability is Autism?
Autism is a complex neurological condition related to brain development that affects how a person perceives and socializes with others, often causing problems in communication and social interaction.
Further, though learning disabilities may affect a person’s ability to both understand and use written and spoken language, those suffering from autism may be very good at things such as music, art, math, or tasks involving memory.
There is no cure for autism and its effects can range from being a minor impairment to a seriously disabling condition that requires full-time supervision in a special facility dedicated to caring for the severely impaired.
Early Signs of Autism
Though autism can affect adults as well as children, the signs of autism usually appear before age 3 and may include any of the following:
- Repetitive actions, such as rocking back and forth or repeating certain words and phrases.
- Not wanting to be held or cuddled.
- Lack of eye contact.
- Having a narrow range of interest or having extreme interest in a particular activity.
- High sensitivity to sounds, sights, smells, and touch.
- Speaking in a flat, robotic, or sing-song voice.
- Trouble adapting to changes in routine.
As we said, there is no cure for autism, but early diagnosis and treatment can sometimes make a substantial difference in the life of someone suffering from the disability. Treatments include speech, behavioral, and occupational therapy, and medications can sometimes help with anxiety, hyperactivity, and attention problems. Special therapy related to things like art, music, and animals can also sometimes be helpful.
Qualifying for Supplemental Security Income
It is possible to qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) if an individual suffering from autism meets the qualifying criteria listed in the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Blue Book.
With appropriate medical documentation, these include:
- Qualitative deficits in verbal communication, non-verbal communication, and social interaction, along with
- Significantly restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities.
Further, having extreme limitation of one, or a marked limitation of two of these areas of mental functioning:
- Understanding, remembering, or applying information.
- Interacting with other individuals.
- Concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace.
- Adapting or managing oneself.
In addition to these physical/emotional requirements for SSI, a child or adult suffering from autism must meet the SSA’s financial requirements to qualify for Social Security disability benefits.
Children with autism may be eligible for SSI if their family’s income and assets are not above Social Security’s limits.
An adult applying for SSI must meet all of the following:
- You cannot do any work – not just your previous job – because of your disability, and your condition must last, or be expected to last, at least 12 months.
- You must have worked in a job that pays Social Security taxes long enough and recently enough.
- You must have enough work credits. Generally, the number of work credits must be 40, 20 of which must have been earned in the last 10 years.
- You must be unable to engage in Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA). A person earning more than a certain monthly amount is considered to be engaged in SGA. In 2022 the monthly amount is $1,350.
If an applicant suffering from autism does not meet the SSA’s basic requirements, you still might qualify for SSI if you have an additional impairment. These include, among others:
- Bipolar disorder
- Gastrointestinal disorders
- Heart issues
- Allergies or asthma
The Need for Legal Assistance – Disability Attorney in Virginia Beach, VA
It should be apparent from this summary that securing autism benefits is certainly possible, but it is a demanding, complicated process. Frankly, one of the most common reasons for the denial of claims is the failure to submit enough information and documentation to prove the disability.
This hurdle can be overcome by securing the services of an experienced Social Security disability attorney, and at your earliest opportunity we urge you to reach out to the law firm of O’Neil and Bowman Disability Group.
Attorney Eric Bowman has practiced disability law for 26 years and has helped hundreds of individuals secure the benefits to which they are entitled. He can assist you in filing your initial disability claim, and if your initial application has been denied, he can also help you in filing an appeal to be used at your disability hearing.
Please do not delay. Contact our law firm today to schedule your initial free consultation, and together let’s move forward in securing your long term disability benefits.