ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is a problem some people have with inattentiveness, impulsiveness, as well as/or hyperactivity. When the problem is predominantly an issue with attention span instead of hyperactivity and impulsivity, it is known as attention deficit disorder, or ADD. Many parents apply for disability benefits through the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program for their child who has been diagnosed with ADHD in the hopes that they’ll receive a monthly check to help with care for the child and living expenses. But most children who’ve been diagnosed with ADHD or ADD won’t be granted SSI disability benefits. Only people that have the most severe form of ADHD have any hopes of getting benefits.
ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and Social Security Disability
Individuals who live with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are normally able to live normal, productive lives with little to no interference from the condition provided that it’s controlled with medication. Unfortunately, in certain situations, ADHD could be quite severe and could result in an individual’s inability to perform a gainful work activity. Fortunately, if a case of ADHD is interfering with an individual’s ability to earn an income, Social Security Disability benefits may be able to help. If you are suffering from ADHD and are wondering whether you might qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, the following information can help you understand how the Social Security Administration (SSA) processes disability claims based on ADHD.
ADHD – Condition and Symptoms
People who suffer from ADHD have a difficult time focusing and completing tasks. These individuals also have trouble controlling their behavior and are often hyperactive in nature. The severity of the condition varies from person to person. Some people may exhibit very few symptoms while others will experience symptoms that interfere with their ability to work, complete an education and sustain healthy and functional relationships.
When ADHD is diagnosed, there’s a checklist of symptoms that doctors will refer to. The symptoms of the condition fall into two different categories including hyperactivity-impulsive symptoms and inattentive symptoms. There are three subtypes of ADHD including Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive, Predominantly Inattentive and Combined Hyperactive-Impulsive and Inattentive. The sub-category you’re diagnosed with will depend on which of the two ADHD symptom categories your symptoms fall within.
Individuals who have the Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive form of ADHD will experience six or more symptoms in the hyperactive-impulsive category of symptoms and fewer than six symptoms in the inattentive category. Those who suffer from Predominantly Inattentive ADHD will display six or more symptoms in the inattention category and fewer than six symptoms in the predominantly hyperactive-impulsive category. People who suffer from Combined Hyperactive-Impulsive and Inattentive ADHD will display six or more symptoms in both categories.
Usually, an individual living with ADHD will probably be diagnosed with the Combined Hyperactive-Impulsive, an Inattentive subtype of the status. ADHD usually develops during childhood. Sometimes, individuals can and certainly will grow out of ADHD, but 60 percent of children that are diagnosed with the condition will carry it into adulthood.
Can an Adult With Attention Deficit Disorder Get Social Security Disability?
While ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (sometimes known as Attention Deficit Disorder, or ADD), is a mental health condition that is most often associated with children, adults can suffer from ADHD. It can also interfere with their ability to work. Although approximately 4% of adults are believed to have ADHD, a number of them haven’t been diagnosed with the condition. Up to a third of those diagnosed as children with ADHD continue to have ADHD symptoms in adulthood.
Adults with disabling symptoms of ADHD may be eligible to receive Social Security disability benefits.
Disabling Symptoms of Adult ADHD
ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) causes the same types of symptoms in both children and adults, including trouble paying attention, hyperactivity, poor time management and organizational skills, forgetfulness, and impulsive behavior (as there is not any adult-onset ADHD, these characteristics must have been present since childhood).
For adults with ADHD, these symptoms can result in employment difficulties, poor relationships, and emotional problems. A significant number of adults with ADHD never finished high school due to academic troubles related to ADHD, and this may also limit their employment potential.
There isn’t any diagnostic test for adult ADHD. It might be diagnosed by a medical doctor, psychiatrist, or psychologist when a patient exhibits a consistent pattern of symptoms including inattention and hyperactivity. An official adult ADHD diagnosis usually comes from interviews with the patient and others who are familiar with their symptoms. There are also several questionnaires and checklists which are sometimes used to diagnose ADHD. And before diagnosing an adult with ADHD, most doctors will perform a physical test to rule out other conditions.
Factors in Getting Disability Benefits for ADHD
Social Security disability cases filed on ADHD can be hard to win, but it is not impossible.
Parents that are convinced their children are disabled as an outcome of ADHD should keep several things in mind concerning the disability evaluation process and how ADHD cases are viewed and handled. For an ADHD disability claimant to win benefits, it is not enough that the child displays behavior, at home or at school, that’s indicative of hyperactivity and poor attention. And it’s not enough to have been diagnosed with ADHD. It’s also not enough to have been prescribed Ritalin, or some other medication commonly prescribed for attention deficit problems.
To win disability benefits based on ADHD, it has to be shown that the child is taking prescribed medication and, despite this, is having significant difficulties with various age-appropriate activities–mainly grade-level school work.
The Best Way to Apply for Disability with ADHD as an Adult
Applying for Social Security Disability benefits based on behavioral disorders like ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) presents some unique challenges. The issue is further complicated for adults with ADHD only because they face the responsibility of proving their ADHD, preventing them from finding and maintaining meaningful employment even if they received Social Security Income benefits for ADHD as a child.
Unlike a lot of physical disabilities, which is often diagnosed definitively and objectively, an ADHD diagnosis is based on subjective data. Often, this diagnosis is offered by a medical doctor, a psychiatrist, or a psychologist; but the diagnosis usually relies upon observations made by others. Getting teachers and child care specialists to comply with Social Security Administration requests for information can be difficult. Unfortunately, getting people to comply with requests for information for adults is often even harder.
Needless to say, other factors, as specified in the ADHD listing, do come into play for attention deficit claims, like how well a child communicates, how well a child functions socially, and how well a child takes care of their personal needs (dressing, grooming, and related activities).
In the vast majority of disability claims filed for ADHD, the final determination will be based on how well a child does academically in regard to his or her peers, with significant attention paid to whether the medication was prescribed. In other words, if a child performs at grade level, a strong case can’t be made for awarding disability. Likewise, a child whose problems (social, communicative, or cognitive) are manifested only when a prescribed medication regimen isn’t followed will have a poor possibility of winning disability benefits.