Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental health condition that can interfere with your ability to work. ADHD is more prevalent among children, but many continue to struggle with ADHD into adulthood. If you can show that your ADHD severely limits your ability to maintain gainful employment, you may be entitled to Social Security benefits.
Discuss Your Case with a Skilled SSDI Attorney
ADHD can be difficult to diagnose and challenging to prove when applying for Social Security benefits. The process of diagnosing ADHD is somewhat subjective. Discussing your case with an experienced attorney can help you or your child seeking disability benefits. At Disability Advocates Group, our attorneys will help you through every step of the process. Contact Disability Advocates Group today to schedule your free initial consultation.
Is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Considered a Disability?
To obtain Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, a claimant needs to have a physical or mental impairment that severely hinders his or her ability to function. If you have been diagnosed with ADHD, you may be entitled to benefits, but being diagnosed with ADHD doesn’t make you automatically eligible for benefits. ADHD causes problems with impulsiveness, inattentiveness, or hyperactivity. When a claimant’s symptoms are severe enough, the claimant can become eligible for monthly SSDI benefits.
When is ADHD Considered a Disability?
The Social Security Administration has a “Blue Book” with multiple listings of medical conditions that make applicants eligible for benefits. In the Blue Book, ADHD falls under the section for Neurodevelopmental Disorders. Claimants must meet two sets of criteria to qualify for benefits. First, the claimant must display one of or more of the following:
- Frequent distractibility
- Hyperactive and impulsive behavior
- Frequent recurring motor movement or vocalization; and
- Significant problems with learning
Additionally, the applicant must display trouble with at least one of the following:
- Controlling his or her behavior
- Concentrating on tasks
- Interacting with others; and
- Learning, remembering, and understanding information
ADHD Must Prevent the Claimant From Obtaining Gainful Employment
Adult applicants who meet these requirements also need to prove that it’s impossible for them to work and hold down a job because of their ADHD symptoms. Many adults with ADHD are unable to complete high school due to concentration problems in school, leading to academic troubles. A lack of a high school diploma or GED limits employment potential. Other symptoms of ADHD can make it nearly impossible for a person to get hired or maintain employment:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Trouble paying attention
- Poor time management
- Lack of organizational skills
- Impulsive behavior
Diagnostic Tests for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
There is no singular diagnostic test for an adult with ADHD. However, recent brain imaging studies have shown that those with ADHD have alterations in specific brain regions. As of right now, doctors diagnose ADHD when a patient exhibits a consistent pattern of recognizable symptoms related to difficulty concentrating, inattention, and poor decision-making.
Typically, a diagnosis will only occur after the doctor interviews the patient, friends, and family familiar with their symptoms. Medical professionals will often perform tests to rule out any other medical conditions. Psychiatrists and psychologists will use several checklists and questionnaires to diagnose adult ADHD, including the following:
- Adult ADHD Self-REport Scale (ASRS)
- Brown Attention Deficit Disorder Scales (BADDS), and
- Adult Behavior Checklist (ABCL)
Proving the Severity of ADHD When Applying for Benefits
Working with a skilled attorney can help you prove the severity of your ADHD. When a claimant applies, a claims examiner from the Social Security Administration (SSA) will carefully examine the medical records and additional information the claimant provided in the application. The claims examiner needs to see evidence of the claimant’s inability to obtain employment.
The attorneys at Disability Advocates Group can help you include detailed information showing the full extent of your symptoms. Because there are multiple tests for the diagnosis of ADHD, it’s important that you have strong supporting medical evidence to get your claim approved. We will help you ensure that your SSDI application includes the following:
- Documentation of what treatment methods you’ve already tried and the outcome
- Records from a psychologist or psychiatrist showing you’ve been diagnosed with adult ADHD
- Supporting documentation of the diagnosis, including your doctor’s questionnaires, doctor’s notes, tests, and more
- Records from your former employers showing your difficulty with impulsivity, concentration, hyperactivity, and other ADHD symptoms, and
- A detailed form called a medical source statement that is completed by the psychiatrist or therapist who treated you for ADHD
Social Security Benefits for Children with ADHD
Children do not have a work history and cannot collect SSDI benefits unless their parent is already collecting them. However, children who’ve been diagnosed with ADHD may qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. The purpose of awarding SSI to children is to help ease the financial burdens of their caretakers. Children must provide evidence of significant impairment in the classroom or in relationships.
The applicant needs to show proof of attention deficit, either through records of classroom accommodations, teacher reports, or family reports. If a child takes medication, the application must show that even with medication, the child displays significant ADHD symptoms. Once a child is awarded benefits for ADHD, he or she will receive them until the age of 18. At that point, SSA will reassess whether the applicant is still eligible.
How Difficult Is Obtaining SSDI for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in California?
It’s unusual for the Social Security Administration to grant benefits to an adult whose only medical diagnosis is ADHD. However, it is possible to obtain benefits when the symptoms are severe enough. Whether you are an adult with ADHD or your child has ADHD, working with an attorney can increase the likelihood of obtaining Social Security benefits. Proving eligibility for benefits based on an ADHD diagnosis isn’t easy.
Schedule a Free Consultation with a California SSDI Attorney
At Disability Advocates Group, our attorneys have extensive experience helping clients with ADHD and other mental health diagnoses obtain the benefits they need and deserve. Contact Disability Advocates Group today to schedule your free initial consultation.