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Can adults with ADD qualify for disability benefits?

Attention deficit disorder or ADD is characterized by hyperactivity, distraction, lack of attention and impulsivity. The most prevalent signs include the inability of an individual to focus and concentrate which can affect various activities (school, work, and relationships).

ADD and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactive disorder) affects an estimated 2 million children in the United States. Many individuals will suffer from the symptoms into adulthood. The cause of this condition is not known, although scientific studies indicate that there is a genetic component to the condition as it is known to run in families. There are common risk factors including exposure to lead, smoke, malnourishment and abnormal brain development.

How does the SSA determine SSI or SSDI disability for adults with ADD?

The Social Security Administration has two methods they use to determine if a claimant is disabled and qualifies for SSDI or SSI: the claimant meets a listing in their Listing of Impairments (Blue Book) or they have a condition which is so severe that they are unable to continue to perform substantial gainful activity (this is called a medical vocational allowance).

Children with ADD are evaluated under Listing 112.00 Mental Disorders and under this listing the SSA is evaluating whether a child is manifesting “developmentally inappropriate degrees of inattention, impulsiveness, and hyperactivity.” The SSA is looking specifically for evidence of marked inattention, impulsivity, and marked hyperactivity. They are also determining how these behaviors have affected the child’s social development, personal functioning and educational abilities.

As an adult the SSA will evaluate the same types of symptoms but they will be considering how these behaviors affect a claimant’s ability to maintain employment. The SSA will also consider whether the claimant had a history of this condition as a child.

Keep in mind, the SSA will expect the worker to be under the care of a qualified physician or psychologist who has diagnosed the symptoms and documented them as appropriately severe. The worker should also be following the doctor’s treatment plan but yet continue to have the inability to work. Other supporting documentation from a worker’s childhood may also be necessary to support the claim that they had this condition when they were young. This information could include treatment notes, teacher’s reports and evaluations, achievement tests and IQ testing.

What are the chances an adult will receive SSI or SSDI for ADD or ADHD?

It is very difficult to qualify for SSDI or SSI with ADD. Thousands of children and adults have been diagnosed with this condition but most are able to get ample treatment which allows them to function in society. Most adults with ADD can take medications or make modifications in their life which allows them to be a productive worker.

Unfortunately, when the SSA evaluates an adult’s ADHD or ADD condition the analysis is generally subjective in nature and relies heavily on the observations of the adult’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.

The bottom line is that many jobs do not require much attention and focus and most individuals with ADD should be able to work. If you have ADD and you feel that you are unable to work, it may be time to contact a disability lawyer.



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