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Can My Child Qualify for Social Security Disability with ADD, ADHD, or ODD?


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Caring for a child is one of the most fulfilling human experiences.  However raising a child takes a great deal of money, time, attention, and devotion. When your child has a severe mental or physical impairment, the demands on you only increase. However a Social Security Disability claim can be the first step in securing the funds necessary for your child’s support. Social Security can provide cash assistance to caregivers of children with severe Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD), Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), and other serious impairments.

How Does the Social Security Administration Review My Application?

A child living with a chronic mental impairment such as ADD, ADHD, or ODD can qualify for Social Security Disability benefits depending on how severe their condition is. To qualify, your child’s condition must meet the requirements under the mental disorder listing 112.11 (neurodevelopmental disorders) outlined by the Social Security Administration (SSA).

For children, the SSA reviews applications by a 3-step process. First, the administration checks to see whether the child is engaged in substantially gainful activity (SGA) like employment. If the child is working, the claim is denied. If the child is not working, the agency then looks to see if the child has a severe disability. A severe disability creates significant limitations on the things that he or she is able to do. The SSA then looks to see whether the severe condition is a qualifying one in that the condition meets, medically equals, or functionally equals one of the listed conditions. Mental conditions included in the SSA’s listings of childhood disabilities are:

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
  • Personality disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Intellectual disabilities
  • Psychoactive dependence disorders
  • Schizophrenia
  • Mood Disorders

While ADHD is a listed condition, many other developmental and behavior disorders are not. The administration may determine whether the impairment is functionally equivalent by analyzing 6 domains. These domains are:

  • Acquiring and using information:  How well the child is able to learn and apply new concepts and ideas.
  • Attending to and completing tasks: This area measures how well the child is able to maintain focus and carry-out tasks to completion.
  • Interacting and relating to others: This area looks at many of the child’s social skills and abilities to socialize with peers and adults.
  • Caring for self:  Is the child able to maintain his or her living area? Does the child take care of his or her possessions? Does the child have acceptable personal grooming habits?
  • Moving around and manipulating objects: Is the child oriented to his environment and space? Further this area analyzes the child’s fine and gross motor skills.
  • Health and physical well-being: this domain looks at the child’s comprehensive health including whether any medications or supportive therapies are having positive impacts.

The administration looks to determine whether marked or extreme deficits exist in one or more of these domains.

What Types of Evidence are Considered?

For a child the Social Security Administration generally considers medical and educational records but other relevant and credible sources of evidence regarding the child’s impairments can also be considered. For medical records, this can include diagnoses by physicians, psychiatrists, standardized medical tests, hospital records, and prescription records.  Educational records include the student’s disciplinary history, educational notes, grades, and observations by developmental specialists. Childcare records may also be consulted for signs of the serious impairments.

Is a Prescription Medication Required for a Favorable ADHD Disability Determination?

From a strict legal standpoint it shouldn’t matter whether a child is taking a medication like Adderall, Ritalin or Vyvanse because the listing for ADHD does not require it. But in reality the disability determination does not always adhere to this standard. The claims examiner or administrative law judge (ALJ) may conclude that the ADHD condition was not severe enough to warrant medication. Alternatively he or she could conclude that the condition is being controlled and therefore medication has not been prescribed. Disability claims can be denied even in instances where medication is prescribed if the ALJ determines that the condition has improved sufficiently.

While it is possible to qualify for Social Security benefits with a childhood ADHD condition, the process is extremely complex and replete with many legal pitfalls. Because mental disabilities are often more difficult to prove, one or more appeals can be necessary. An experienced Fayetteville AR disability lawyer can eliminate your guesswork, help you understand the conditions that qualify for disability in Arkansas, and improve your likelihood of a favorable claim determination. For a confidential consultation contact Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law by calling (479) 316-0438 or contact us online.

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