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Disability benefits for children with autism

Social Security disability benefits are not limited to adults. Children in Ohio with qualifying disabilities, such as autism, may be evaluated by the Social Security Administration (SSA) as well. The SSA will generally determine the level of a child’s impairment by comparing their mental functioning to other children of the same age who do not have impairments.

A previous blog post discussed the requirements that adults with autism must meet in order to qualify for SSD benefits. This post will examine some of the slightly different requirements for children with autism.

For children ages three to 18 with autism spectrum disorder, medical evidence as well as other types of evidence must be provided in order for the SSA to evaluate the child’s eligibility for benefits. The severity of the mental disorder and the child’s ability to function age-appropriately will be determined based on evidence such as medical assessments, information from teachers and statements from people who know the child personally.

This evidence will need to establish that the child has a pervasive pattern of behavior as outlined in Section 112.08 of the Blue Book. Medical evidence must show that the child has qualitative defects in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication as well as significantly restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests or activities. In addition, the child must have extreme limitation of one, or marked limitation of two, areas of mental functioning such as the ability to understand, remember or apply information.

The SSA emphasizes that an extreme or marked limitation of mental functioning must be established with more than one type of evidence. A single test result alone will not establish this criterion, and all evidence will be cumulatively evaluated for consistency. Consideration will also be given to the type and extent of support the child receives on a daily basis and whether the child is enrolled in a psychosocial rehabilitation program or receiving another form of treatment.

There are many more factors that the SSA takes into consideration when determining SSD benefits for children with autism. When filing for Social Security disability benefits for mental conditions, it is important to make sure that all required evidence is submitted in accordance with the guidelines set forth by the SSA and to be aware of the possible recourses available both when filing and in the event of initial denial.

Source: Social Security Administration, 112.00 Mental Disorders- Childhood, accessed on May 12, 2017