Is Autism a Qualifying Condition for Social Security Benefits?

By Michelle Shvarts
Principal Attorney

There is an extensive and varied list of conditions that can qualify a person for Social Security disability benefits. Just because a person may have a condition listed and recognized by the Social Security Administration, however, does not mean that they will qualify for benefits. The condition must have certain qualifying characteristics and the right amount and type of evidence supporting the condition and its impacts on the applicant’s life must be provided. Autism, for instance, will not, in and of itself, qualify a person for Social Security benefits.

Is Autism in an Adult a Qualifying Condition for Social Security Benefits?

Autism has a broad spectrum. It can, however, prevent an adult from retaining gainful employment in order to earn a living. That is why autism is recognized by the SSA as a potentially qualifying condition for disability benefits either under the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program or the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program.

In order to qualify for disability benefits with the SSA, an adult applicant with autism must provide medical evidence showing:

  • A pronounced difficulty in interacting socially, particularly in responding or reciprocating, for any length of time;
  • Impaired communication, either verbal or non-verbal, skills;
  • An inability to engage in imaginative or creative thought and/or activities;
  • Limited interest in varying activities and limitations in activities of daily living;
  • Limited interest in participation in varying activities;
  • Difficulty concentrating or finishing tasks at a reasonable pace; and
  • Repeated and extended episodes of decompensation, which are times when symptoms of the condition are more pronounced.

When applying for disability benefits with the SSA, an applicant must collect an extensive amount of medical records. In fact, the more thorough the medical records, the better. Solid medical evidence of a condition means it can be much more likely for an applicant to support an argument for a disabling condition and be approved for benefits. 

In addition to medical records, it can also be beneficial to provide statements from family members, loved ones, caregivers, and others who can substantiate the claim that the applicant’s autism limits his or her ability to care for himself or herself or limits participation in everyday activities as well as the ability appropriately respond to everyday situations.

Financial records will also need to be provided to the SSA as part of the disability benefits application process. Financial information will likely include information pertaining to past salaries or wages. This is due to the fact that past amounts earned while working go towards calculating how much you may receive in monthly benefits.

When you are ready to apply for Social Security disability benefits, you need to schedule an appointment with your local SSA office in order to complete the SSI application. The SSDI application can be filled out in whole or in part in person as well as online.

Florida Disability Attorney

Do you need help navigating the disability benefits process? Many people do. The trusted advisors at Disability Advocates are here to assist you through the disability claims process. Contact us today.

About the Author
Ms. Shvarts is the managing attorney for Disability Advocates Group. She opened Disability Advocates Group to assist individuals who became disabled and unable to work to obtain the benefits they need and deserve.  Ms. Shvarts and the rest of the team at Disability Advocates Group are dedicated to assisting individuals obtain Social Security Disability Benefits (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.