The Social Security Disability
Experts Since 1984

Social Security Benefits for Intellectual Disabilities

Applying for SSD Benefits with An Intellectual Disability

Intellectual disabilities can cause measured, below-average intelligence, and those affected by these disabilities often lack the skills necessary to perform basic tasks and function in daily life without assistance. Intellectual disabilities are lifelong conditions that are usually diagnosed in childhood. The spectrum of intellectual disabilities is vast, and while some can be quite mild and difficult to even notice, others can prove to be debilitating.

Intellectual disabilities can manifest due to genetics, issues related to pregnancy, problems with childbirth, and other causes. Those with intellectual disabilities may have very low IQ scores, trouble learning, problem solving, and memory and speech issues. A diagnosis is reached after a medical professional has documented such signs and other symptoms. Individuals with intellectual disabilities are usually still able to learn various skills, unless their case is quite severe, it merely takes them longer to do so.

Intellectual disabilities are not diseases, therefore they are not treated as such. Children and adults with intellectual disabilities often need assistance with daily tasks and care, such as occupational or physical therapies, tailored educational assistance in calm and controlled environments, supervision, etc.

Filing for Disability Benefits with an Intellectual Disability

Many people file for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) with physical disorders and disabilities. However, people can also file for disability benefits for mental illnesses or disorders that severely impact their daily life, and prevent them from supporting themselves. It is under the Mental Disorders category that individuals with intellectual disabilities can file for SSDI with the Social Security Administration (SSA).

The Social Security Administration approves or denies disability claims after thoroughly evaluating them using what is known as the Blue Book. The Blue Book contains lists of disabilities and disorders that will qualify claimants for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits.

Under the Mental Disorders category, section 12.05 is dedicated to intellectual disabilities and describes what satisfies the definition. Often, the symptoms that qualify an individual for SSDI under this category include the following:

  • Inability to perform basic tasks, care for basic personal needs, follow instructions, etc.
  • Dependence on others for basic needs and tasks.
  • A verbal, performance, or full scale IQ score below 70
  • A physical or mental impairment that inhibits the individual from working.
  • Verbal limitations
  • Limited social functioning abilities
  • Significant issues with concentration, persistence, or pace.
  • Marked restriction of activities of daily living.
  • Repeated episodes of decompensation, each of extended duration.

A person who has an intellectual disability may be eligible for a medical vocational allowance if they do not meet the listing requirements in the Blue Book. This can be suited for individuals who have a condition that limits their functional capabilities and prevents them from working and therefore, from taking part in Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA).

Additionally, in order to be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits, a claimant must still have worked previously, proving they paid into the Social Security system over time, prior to the onset date of their disability or worsening symptoms. If an individual has no prior work history, they will likely need to apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) instead of SSDI.

Applying for SSDI with An Intellectual Disability

The Social Security Administration requires certain evidence in order to approve a disability claim filed under the Intellectual Disabilities category. This evidence includes medical evidence, non-medical criteria, proof the individual cannot take part in SGA, and additional proof that the condition meets other requirements listed in the Blue Book.

Applying for SSDI can be incredibly time consuming and complicated, especially if you are unfamiliar with the process and how the SSA works. Often, initial claims are denied, and this means a claimant must file an appeal. Some people go without the benefits they need for fear their claim will never be approved.

If you are trying to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance in California, reach out to the team at Peña & Bromberg today. We understand the filing process thoroughly, and will organize and provide all necessary documentation to the SSA properly and on time. We specialize in Social Security Disability Insurance applications, and know how to give you the best chances at obtaining the benefits you need. Contact us today to request a free consultation!

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