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Does an Autism Diagnosis Allow SSDI Benefits?

Recent estimates by the Centers for Disease Control state that 1 in every 68 children can be diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). ASD is a group of varying developmental disabilities that cause challenges with socialization, communication, and behavior. This condition exists from birth and is usually diagnosed by the time a child is three. Importantly, ASD is a spectrum, meaning that there is a varying range of abilities that every child diagnosed with autism may be able to perform.

When Autism Qualifies for SSDI Benefits

Infants with autism may be less attentive to social interaction and stimuli than other infants. As they get older, the lack of social interaction and general communication will increase. Doctors at this stage will determine whether or not the infant exhibits six of the total symptoms of autism, with two linked to social interaction, one linked to communication, and one associated with restricted or repetitive behavior.

In order for this condition to qualify for SSDI benefits, a doctor must prove a determined level of severity:

  • The child has deficits in social interaction, communication, imagination, and restricted number of activities and interests; and
  • These deficits cause significant problems in communicative, cognitive, social, and personal functioning, or sustaining concentration.

Many of these can be determined through standardized testing and comparing the child to the other children in their age group without the condition.

As long as the child's family does not exceed the regular SSI limits on finances and assets, the child may be eligible for Social Security Insurance. However, SSDI is only available to those with a prior work history that allowed them to pay Social Security taxes. For a child with autism to receive SSDI benefits, their parent must be collecting disability or retirement benefits and the child must be over the age of 18 with a diagnosis that occurred before the age of 22. These SSDI benefits will be determined from the earning record of the parent.

Have questions on what benefits to apply for? Reach out to our firm for guidance.