Social Security Disability for ADHD

By Michelle Shvarts
Principal Attorney

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a chronic neuropsychiatric condition characterized with an inability to focus attention and complete action. It occurs in both children and adults and is accompanied by restlessness and impulsive behavior.

ADHD symptoms may range from mild to severe, hence impacting a person’s ability to perform substantial gainful activity, SGA at work. Examples of disorders the SSA analyzes based on or related to ADHD include social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, agoraphobia and obsessive compulsive disorder.

There are three kinds or levels of ADHD: the inattentive type, the hyperactive-impulsive type, and a combined type. Types of classification of the disorders are mainly done through categorizing the severity of the symptoms – it simply indicates the prevalence of similar symptoms (more of a tendency toward the inability to pay attention, more of a tendency to restless behavior and mental activity, or a combination of both).

If you or a loved one with ADHD meets the triggers as listed by the SSA’s impairments under neurological conditions for ADHD or other disorders, you may qualify for SSDI.

Limitations of ADHD to qualify for SSDI

The SSA updated its listing for anxiety disorders under neurological disorders to include other disorders such as OCD. The symptoms for both anxiety and OCD listed by SSA include:

  • Excessive anxiety
  • Worrying a lot
  • Apprehension and fear
  • Avoidance of feelings, thoughts, activities, objects, places or people
  • Being restless
  • Difficulty concentrating or remaining focused
  • Hyper vigilance
  • Muscle tension
  • Irregular sleep patterns
  • Fatigue or being tired all the time
  • Panic or anxiety attacks
  • Obsessions and compulsions
  • Constant thoughts and fears about safety
  • Frequent physical complaints

While many of the symptoms can often be confused with extreme fatigue or anxiety due to excessive work or other conditions, people with ADHD would have lasting symptoms sometimes since childhood. Since there is no specific test or diagnosis for ADHD, your doctor would often jot down symptoms and severity of the affects it has caused you over the period of time along with ruling out possibilities of any other neurological disease that could be causing the symptoms.

Be sure to provide all documents including any MRI or CT scans and any treatment you followed, its effects (if any) and the frequency and severity of your symptoms.

It is important that you document all of the medical evidence including hospitalization, drug prescriptions and your doctor’s reports in addition to your colleague or boss’s reports if possible, to show as evidence to the SSA examiner that your condition does indeed affect your day to day functioning severely. Also be sure to include addresses, phone numbers or other contact details to all persons who could testify to your symptoms affecting your adaptive or cognitive functioning.

Applying for SSDI for ADHD for Children or Adults

A simple diagnosis for ADHD is not enough to win disability benefits. You must meet the specific limitation levels as listed by the SSA for both Para A and Para B below:

Para A

  • Marked or severe hyperactivity
  • Marked or severe inattention
  • Marked or severe impulsiveness

Para B

You must be able to show medical evidence that you undergo the following symptoms:

  • Marked or severe impairment in age-appropriate cognitive/communication function; and/or
  • Marked or severe impairment in age-appropriate social functioning; and/or
  • Marked or severe impairment in age-appropriate personal functioning.

If you or a loved one with ADHD meets the above requirements then you may apply for disability benefits for ADHD directly from the SSA website, or meet our disability advocates to guide you with step-by-step procedure to increase your chances of winning disability for ADHD.

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.