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Pervasive development disorder and SSDI benefits

Pervasive development disorder refers to conditions which involve delays in the development of many basic skills. It can include, but is not limited to, the ability to communicate, socialize and imagine.

These conditions are generally diagnosed as early as three years of age as children fail to meet the standard milestones of development which can include walking, talking or interacting with other children.

The medical community has identified five basic types of pervasive development disorders. Children and adults may be diagnosed with any of the following:

• Autism

Autistic individuals may have difficulty communicating, interacting with their peers. Many autistic children also have some degree of mental retardation.

• Asperger’s Syndrome

Asperger's syndrome may cause individuals to have limited ability to effectively interact socially and communicate. This condition, however, does not seem to limit the individual’s intelligence or their ability to learn language.

• Childhood disintegrative disorder

Between ages 2 and 10 years of age, a child with disintegrative disorder begins to lose many of the skills such as social functions and language skills which they learned early in childhood. They may also lose function of their bladder and bowels.

• Rett’s Syndrome

Individuals with this disorder may have physical development delays including poor coordination.

• Pervasive development disorder not otherwise specified (PDDNOS)

Other individuals who do not have a clear diagnosis but who clearly have difficulty communicating, working and interacting with others may have PDDNOS. These individuals generally have a higher level of social ability than autistic individuals.

Proving Disability for Pervasive Development Disorders

The Social Security Administration has two ways to determine whether or not a claimant is disabled and qualifies for disability benefits. The first method is by meeting a listing on the SSA Listing of Impairments (also called the SSA Blue Book). The second is through a medical vocational allowance.

Meeting a Listing for Pervasive Development Disorders

The SSA listing for pervasive development disorder if found under Listing 12.10 Autistic disorder and other pervasive developmental disorders.

12.10 Autistic disorder and other pervasive developmental disorders

According to the SSA, to meet this listing the individual must display “qualitative deficits in the development of reciprocal social interaction, in the development of verbal and nonverbal communication skills, and in imaginative activity. Often, there is a markedly restricted repertoire of activities and interests, which frequently are stereotyped and repetitive.”

The required level of severity for these disorders is met when the requirements in both A and B are satisfied.

A. Medically documented findings of the following:

1. For autistic disorder, all of the following:

a. Qualitative deficits in reciprocal social interaction; and
b. Qualitative deficits in verbal and nonverbal communication and in imaginative activity; and
c. Markedly restricted repertoire of activities and interests;


2. For other pervasive developmental disorders, both of the following:

a. Qualitative deficits in reciprocal social interaction; and
b. Qualitative deficits in verbal and nonverbal communication and in imaginative activity;


B. Resulting in at least two of the following:

1. Marked restriction of activities of daily living; or
2. Marked difficulties in maintaining social functioning; or
3. Marked difficulties in maintaining concentration, persistence, or pace; or
4. Repeated episodes of decompensation, each of extended duration

The Social Security Administration will need documentation that you have been diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder, and medical documentation that your disorder causes severe work-related impairments.

The SSA has four broad functional criteria by which they will review and rate the degree of your limitations:

• Activities of daily living
• Social functioning
• Concentration, persistence, or pace
• Episodes of mental decompensation

If the rating for each of these areas is extreme, the SSA will assume the applicant cannot perform substantial work. If the SSA determines the claimant’s rating is "none" or "mild" they will generally conclude that the applicant’s Pervasive Developmental Disorder impairment(s) is not severe.

Winning disability for Pervasive Development Disorder through a Medical Vocational Allowance

Claimants who do not meet the listing, however, may be able to provide additional evidence to support the argument that they have other factors which could reduce their residual capacity to work and they may be able to prove that they cannot do basic work activities, thus winning benefits through a medical vocational allowance.

Claimants whose condition does not meet the listing generally benefit from hiring a disability lawyer.