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ADD and Supplemental Security Income for children

Supplemental Security income (SSI) may be available to children who are under the age of 18 and who meet the Social Security Administration’s definition of disabled. If the child lives with their family their resource level must meet the standards outlined by the Social Security Administration. The Social Security Administration will consider the resources and income of the family members who live with the child if the child lives at home.

Attention deficit disorder, or ADD, which is more commonly known as attention deficit hyperactive disorder, or ADHD, may qualify for Supplemental Security Income if the Social Security Administration determines, through medically valid medical documentation, that your child has been diagnosed and that their condition causes marked functional limitations.

Is my child’s ADD severe enough to qualify for disability benefits?



The Social Security Administration maintains what they call the SSA Listing of Impairments (Part B for children) which is a list which outlines common conditions and diseases that the SSA has decided causes marked functional limitations in children.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is listed in Section 112.11. For a child to “meet or exceed the listing” they must manifest “developmentally inappropriate degrees of inattention, impulsiveness, and hyperactivity.”

The SSA requires that the child’s condition be severe, which means they must exhibit the symptoms which are found in Part A and in Part B of the listing.

Part A of the SSA Children’s Listing of Impairments



To meet the criteria of Part A, your child must have medically documented findings of all three of the following:

1. Marked inattention; and
2. Marked impulsiveness; and
3. Marked hyperactivity;

Part B of the SSA Children’s Listing of Impairments



The SSA has outlined two sets of conditions, one for children who are less than three years old and one for children who are three to eighteen years of age. Generally, it is very difficult for children who are under the age of three to win SSI for ADHD so we will focus our discussion on children who are ages three to eighteen.

If your child is age three to eighteen they must possess two out of three of the following conditions:

• Marked impairment in cognitive and communication function - This impairment must be measured and documented on standardized tests and supported by your child’s medical history.
• Marked impairment in age appropriate social functioning
• Marked impairment in age appropriate personal functioning

It is important for your child to see a qualified physician or psychologist who has diagnosed the symptoms and documented them as appropriately severe. Other supporting documentation can include treatment notes, teacher’s reports and evaluations, achievement tests and IQ testing.

What are the chances my child will receive SSI for ADD or ADHD?



Many children are diagnosed with ADHD or ADD but the Social Security Administration decides that their condition does not cause “marked functional limitations” for the child. Unfortunately, when the SSA evaluates a child’s ADHD or ADD condition the analysis is generally subjective in nature and relies heavily on the observations of the child’s behavior by others, which by its very nature tends to be open for interpretation. This contrasts with a variety of other conditions which can be objectively determined through clinical observations such X-rays or blood tests.

Honestly, for ADD the most important “evidence” is frequently information provided by the school and documentation that outlines how the ADD is affecting the academic status of a child. Children who have evidence that they have severe functional limitations and deficits in their school performance will have the greatest chance of receiving SSI benefits.