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SSI for Children with Autism

Autism has been defined by the World English Dictionary as “a disturbance in psychological development in which use of language, reaction to stimuli, interpretation of the world, and the formation of relationships are not fully established and follow unusual patterns.”

Autism is generally present from birth and is diagnosed in most children by the time they are three years old.

Autistic qualities vary significantly by individual but can include:

• Lack or delay in development of the spoken language
• Lack of social and emotional development or reciprocity
• Inability to development peer relationships
• Impairment in the ability to interpret nonverbal cues, facial expression, body postures and gestures and to successfully regulate social interaction
• Repetitive use of language or idiosyncratic language

What federal disability benefits are available for children with Autism?

Children may be eligible to receive Supplemental Security Income benefits (SSI) for certain disabling health conditions if they are under the age of 18 or age 22 if they are regularly attending school.

The Social Security Administration will consider a child disabled if they have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment or impairments which results in marked and severe functional limitations, and this condition is expected to last for a period of at least 12 continuous months or result in death.

Supplemental Security Income is, however, only provided to families who have limited income and resources and the Social Security Administration does count a portion of the parents’ income and resources as if they were available to the child.

Can my child get disability benefits for Autism?

The SSA has created a list of all the conditions they consider disabling for children. The listing is called the Disability Evaluation under Social Security but is more commonly referred to as the Blue Book (Part B is for children).

To win SSI for autism your child must “meet or equal a listing.”

Meeting a Listing for Autism

The listing for autism is found in the Social Security Administration Blue Book under the listing 112.10. According to the SSA, a child will “meet a listing” when the requirements in both Sections A and B are satisfied.

Section A:

• Qualitative deficits in the development of reciprocal social interaction; and
• Qualitative deficits in verbal and nonverbal communication and in imaginative activity; and
• Markedly restricted repertoire of activities and interests;

Section B:

1. For older infants and toddlers (age 1 to attainment of age 3), resulting in at least one of the following:

a. Gross or fine motor development at a level generally acquired by children no more than one-half the child's chronological age.

b. Cognitive/communicative function at a level generally acquired by children no more than one-half the child's chronological age.

c. Social function at a level generally acquired by children no more than one-half the child's chronological age.

2. For children (age 3 to attainment of age 18), resulting in at least two of the following:

a. Marked impairment in age-appropriate cognitive/ communicative function

b. Marked impairment in age-appropriate social functioning (physically aggressive behavior or
behavior which is increasingly socially isolated)

c. Marked impairment in age-appropriate personal functioning (feeding oneself, dressing, grooming, toileting)

d. Marked difficulties in maintaining concentration, persistence, and pace (the inability to focus on a task which is considered age appropriate)

What documentation do I need to prove disability?

Medical information is needed to support your claims of disability for your child. Documented evidence can be presented by acceptable sources which should include descriptions of functional limitations or the results of standardized test.

According to the SSA, “Medical source's findings should reflect the medical source's consideration of information from parents or other concerned individuals who are aware of the child's activities of daily living, social functioning, and ability to adapt to different settings and expectations, as well as the medical source's findings and observations on examination, consistent with standard clinical practice.”