Tips For Seeking Disability Benefits For Kids On The Autism Spectrum

If your child has been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, the condition can lead to some far-reaching struggles for many years to come. For kids who are unable to meet the demands of a standard daily routine, it can mean that the potential for regular school service and a productive job is minimal. In that case, you may be thinking about applying for Social Security Disability. Here's a look at what you should know about your options.

How Can Kids With Autism Qualify for Benefits?

For kids on the autism spectrum to qualify for any form of disability benefit, you'll have to have a doctor complete an evaluation. That evaluation must show that your child has marked deficiencies in social skills, communication and imagination. He or she will likely also show restricted interests and limited participation in activities.

To receive approval for disability benefits, you'll have to show that these deficiencies have affected your child's development in a few key areas.

  1. Cognitive Effects – Cognitive effects include low IQ scores, limited communication and speech patterns or language use that is below the standard developmental level.  
  2. Social Struggles – Social effects include difficulties with forming and maintaining friendships, properly maintaining other general social relationships and interacting with adults, peers and authority figures. Kids who are aggressive, non-verbal or isolated are often considered to be socially affected.  
  3. Personal Care Issues – Personal care struggles include things like an inability to keep up with basic self-care tasks or struggling personal hygiene. If your child needs support to dress, groom or handle other routine self-care tasks, this is a consideration.

How Is The Determination Made?

Social Security Disability benefits are awarded based on your household income as the child's parent. If you are earning more than the current income limitations, you may not be able to receive disability payments. In that case, you may be better off to apply for Supplemental Security benefits instead. Eligible children can receive benefits up to their 18th birthday based on general financial needs. If your family is eligible for food stamps or Medicaid coverage, your child would likely qualify.

Before you assume that you would be financially disqualified, it's important to understand that the income limits and financial resource requirements can change each year. For that reason, you should check with a Social Security Disability attorney like Ball & Ferrari before you apply. He or she can help you evaluate your household finances to determine which type of benefits your child may qualify for.