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Stuttering and SSA Disability Benefits

Stuttering or stammering is a speech disorder which results in repetitive use of words, phrases, syllables or the inability to make sounds as an individual attempts to communicate. The issue is not with the cognitive inability to formulate ideas but rather the physical ability to fluidly articulate the information to another person.

Stuttering is not uncommon in young children as they learn to speak, but if severe stuttering persists as the child develops it can become an impediment to social development and relationships. Some stutters also develop other ticks or movements which may accompany their speech such as blinking, tremors or body tension.

Most stutters get treatment for this condition which can include counseling, speech therapy (controlled fluency), electronic devises or behavioral therapy.

SSDI or SSI Benefits

How does the SSA decide whether or not a claimant is disabled? The claimant may qualify for SSDI if they can prove that their mental or physical health condition is so severe they cannot work for 12 continuous months and they have worked and paid enough in employment taxes to earn work credits to be considered insured for SSDI.

Claimants may qualify for SSI or Supplemental Security Income if they are unable to work for at least 12 continuous months and they are aged, disabled or blind and have very limited income and resources.

Can I win SSDI or SSI for Stuttering?

Now can you win benefits for stuttering? The SSA has two methods they use to determine a claimant is disabled: does the claimant’s condition “meet or equal” a listing on the SSA Listing of Impairments or Blue Book (a list of all conditions and symptoms the SSA considers automatically disabling) or is the claimant’s condition so severe they are unable to perform substantial gainful activity.

The SSA does have a listing under 2.00 Special Senses and Speech, Section 2.09 Loss of Speech. This listing states that the claimant must not have the “ability to produce speech by any means includes the use of mechanical or electronic devices that improve voice or articulation.” Most commonly this listing is used to evaluate the inability to speak maybe due to a head trauma or some other disease, but it might be possible to prove your stuttering is so severe that it meets this listing, although this might be a stretch.

Proving Disability through a medical vocational allowance

Claimants whose condition does not meet or exceed a listing must prove that they do not have the residual functional capacity to work. Proving that you cannot work any type of job due to a severe stuttering problem may be difficult, especially if you are physically capable of doing labor. Keep in mind, the younger you are the harder it will be to prove that you cannot do any type of work.

What is the SSA likely to determine about your case? They are likely to state that there are many jobs that can be done with little to no social interaction with other individuals or the need to communicate. To win SSI or SSDI for stuttering you must have evidence that your limitations will not allow to perform these jobs.

Additionally, the SSA will expect that you have seen the proper doctors and have exhausted all treatment options to overcome your stuttering.
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