More than half the people diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as children have it for life. While doctors recognize it as a real medical condition, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has no impairment listing for ADHD. This doesn’t mean you can’t qualify for disability benefits with ADHD. It’s significantly hard to get, but if you can meet the SSA’s disability criteria, then it’s possible.
Disability Benefits for ADHD: It’s All About How Well You Function At Work
While your diagnosis is important, the SSA really wants to see how it affects your ability to work. If you’ve always had ADHD and a normal work history, for example, you likely won’t qualify for disability benefits. The SSA’s evaluation of your functionality doesn’t stop there, however. They also review your educational background to see if you finished high school or college as well as your current age.
To receive benefits, you must prove your ADHD makes you unable to complete work tasks, interact positively with your coworkers, or show up on time. If you had ADHD as a child, this only strengthens your case. Regardless of your current medical evidence, you must also show you’re unable to work for at least 12 months or your doctor expects you to die.
Accompanying Impairments May Solidify Your Case
There is one way to increase your chances of qualifying for Social Security disability benefits. Many people with ADHD also have an accompanying impairment, such as depression or anxiety. Meeting the qualifications for Social Security disability with mental health issues such as these is often significantly easier. That’s because the SSA considers these specific issues as disabling impairments, and they appear in the agency’s Blue Book. So, you might try filing for one of those instead. Another tip? List every health issue you have on your SSD application. Be sure to also list every prescription medication and drug side effect you currently experience.
Related: How Veterans Can Qualify for SSD Benefits
What the SSA does have a specific impairment listing for, though, is childhood ADHD. This might seem odd, but the SSA considers it a developmental disorder, not a psychiatric disorder. If your child has ADHD, you’re in luck. With proper evidence, your child may qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). However, the SSA measures functional abilities in children under 18 differently than they do for adults.
When filing for your child’s SSI, you’ll need more than a diagnosis and prescription. While medication isn’t explicitly listed as a contributing factor, those reviewing your claim will consider it. You must prove your child’s taken medication regularly and still cannot complete grade-appropriate work. They will likely also check to see if your child can take proper physical care of himself or herself. Finally, the SSA will look to see if the impairment affects your child’s ability to function socially.
Ultimately, they will look for three medically documented symptoms: inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness. Like all other SSI cases, your family income must be low enough to justify awarding your child benefits. Should you exceed the monthly income and resource caps, you cannot qualify for benefits. There are, however, ways to get benefits for your child if you get Social Security disability payments yourself.
You May Qualify for Legal Assistance
Understanding the Social Security disability application process can be tricky, regardless of your health issues. We recommend consulting a Social Security attorney or advocate before you begin. Whether applying for yourself or your child, your attorney triples your chances for disability benefit approval. All disability attorneys work on contingency, so if you don’t win benefits, you pay $0 for legal assistance. But if you do win, then you’ll only pay a small, one-time fee.
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Megan Kelly is a former blogger and copywriter for LeadingResponse.