A toddler playing memory cards.

Autism has become increasingly prevalent in the U.S. and both children and adults on the autism spectrum may be eligible for SSI or SSDI if they meet the requirements. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of every 68 children born today are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders. These disorders are lifelong and range in severity. Some people who have autism will never be able to work and may require lifetime care.

High-functioning people who have autism may have social impairments that cause them difficulty with finding and keeping jobs. A social security lawyer in Chicago helps his or her clients who have autism with collecting the documentation they need to support their disability applications.

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Autism and SSDI Benefits, Social Security Lawyer


SSI For Children With Autism

Children who are under the age of 18 may be eligible for supplemental security income (SSI) if their families have low incomes and few resources. The children must meet the eligibility criteria for their disability, and their families must also meet the financial eligibility criteria. The family’s financial criteria are based on the size of the household, the income and the resources the family has. If the family meets the guidelines, the child must still meet the definition of disability from the Social Security Administration. A social security lawyer in Chicago may review a family’s finances in order to determine whether they meet the financial guidelines for SSI eligibility for their child.

Eligibility Criteria For Children

Children must meet certain diagnostic and impairment criteria in order to be eligible for SSI. If they are diagnosed with autistic disorder, they must also have documentation showing that the diagnosis has caused them to have deficits in their ability to engage in reciprocal social interaction, imaginative play and nonverbal and verbal communication. They must also have few activities and interests.

Children who are diagnosed with other pervasive developmental disorders on the autism spectrum must demonstrate deficits in reciprocal social interaction, nonverbal and verbal communication and imaginative play. All children between the ages of three and 18 who have autism spectrum disorders must also have two of  the following criteria:

  • Impairments in cognitive functioning or the ability to communicate
  • Impairments in social functioning
  • Trouble with persisting in an activity, keeping pace or concentrating
  • Impairments in the ability for personal functioning

Children who are younger than three may be eligible if their functioning in social, communication, cognition or motor skills are at less than half of what is considered to be normal for their age. If a child is approved for SSI, he or she may receive monthly benefits as long as his or her family continues meeting the financial guidelines until the child reaches age 18.

SSI Or SSDI For Adults With Autism

Adults who have autism spectrum disorders may be eligible for SSI or SSDI. People who received SSI while they were children have to reapply when they become adults. If an adult who has autism has worked, he or she may be eligible for SSDI. The eligibility guidelines for both SSI and SSDI are the same. An adult with autism must not earn more than $1,130 per month through substantial gainful activity in 2016. His or her resources must also be limited to $2,000 or less.

Eligibility Criteria For Adults

Some adults who have autism may be eligible for SSI even if they were denied as children. A social security lawyer in Chicago helps adults who are diagnosed with autistic disorder with applying for benefits. They may be eligible if they have qualitative impairments in their ability to socially reciprocate, verbally or nonverbally communicate, to engage in imaginative activities and have restricted interests. People who are diagnosed with other pervasive developmental disorders must have deficits in social reciprocation, verbal or nonverbal communication and imaginative activities.

For people with any of the autism spectrum disorders, their impairments must result in two of the following:

  • Impairments in the ability to complete activities of daily living
  • Problems with being able to function socially
  • Problems with keeping pace, persistence or concentration
  • A history of decompensating for lengthy periods

The availability of SSI for people who have autism may help them to live more independent lives. People who apply for benefits for their children or for themselves for autism spectrum disorders need to understand that a majority of applications for disability benefits are initially denied. If a person receives a denial letter, it is important for him or her to appeal the decision within the statutory deadline. Up to 64 percent of applications are approved during the appeal hearing. A social security lawyer in Chicago may help his or her client with making certain that the medical documentation is complete in order to increase his or her client’s chance of getting approved for SSI.