Can my Child Receive Social Security Benefits due to Asperger’s Syndrome?

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Parents who care for a child with a severe impairment or disability, know that their child can be successful and that he or she can achieve many things. However, these parents also know that their child may require a more structured and supportive environment to aid his or her growth and development. However, today’s world demands more and more from parents in terms of demands on a parent’s time and the financial demands that come with supporting a family.

Luckily, depending on the circumstances, the child may be able to qualify for disability benefits and receive cash payments that can go towards his or her care and support. While a child typically cannot qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance until he or she reaches age 18, the establishment of a qualifying disability in childhood can expedite the award of benefits when the child reaches the age of majority. Children can often qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, however, certain special provisions apply to a childhood disability claim.

What is Asperger’s?

Asperger’s is a type of developmental disorder on the autism spectrum. As a condition related to autism, the Social Security Adminstration considers it to be part of the category of diseases and impairments known as Pervasive Developmental Disorders.

Asperger’s is often expressed through behaviors that are perceived by others as unusual. Those affected by Asperger’s may speak with an inflection that the listener does not expect or have speech patterns that are noticeable mechanical or repetitive. Actual social isolation or feelings of social isolation are not uncommon. Those with Asperger’s often have deficiencies in gross and fine motor skills. Many affected by this impairment will have a passion, perhaps bordering on an obsession, for a particular area or concentration.

When a doctor evaluates a child with a suspected Asperger’s he or she will look for specific manifestations of the behavior described in the previous paragraph. The doctor may look for problems in the child’s social interaction including an impaired ability to pick up or express visual social signals. Other issues may include the inability to form an emotional bond with other children and a lack of interest in typical childhood activities. Other gins and symptoms of the condition may include highly ritualized behavior, a single interest that is all-consuming, and other behaviors.

How is Asperger’s Assessed by the SSA?

While Asperger’s is not specifically listed in the SSA’s Listed Conditions, a child with this impairment may still qualify for benefits. Asperger’s Syndrome could potentially fall under the SSA’s listing 112.10 for Autistic Disorder and other Pervasive Development Disorders. The Listing states that disorders under this Listing must cause measurable deficits in social functioning, communication skills, and in the child’s creative and imaginative abilities. Furthermore, the listing notes that it is common for the affected individual to have “a markedly restricted repertoire of activities and interests.”

To qualify as an autistic disorder under this Listing there must be:

  • Measurable deficits in reciprocal social skills.
  • Measurable problems in speech, non-verbal communication, and in creative activities.
  • Marked restrictions on activities and interests.

Alternatively, a benefits applicant can also qualify under this Listing but for a pervasive development disorder if there are measureable defects in the development of social interaction and measurable problems in speech, non-verbal communication, and in creative activities. Additionally, children aged one year until the attainment of the age of three must have at least one of the characteristics listed for an organic mental disorder under section B. Similarly, children from ages three until the attainment of age 18 must express at least two of the behaviors associated with an organic mental disease.

Even if your child’s condition does not meet or equal a listing, it may still qualify your child for disability benefits. The SSA must assess the cumulative effects of all disabilities and impairments to determine whether the cumulative effects are “severe.” If a child has a serious impairment and he or she can meet the non-medical program requirements, then the chances of an award of disability benefits through the SSI program is increased. However, many applications are rejected for reasons ranging from insufficient medical evidence to failures to meet technical program requirements. If your application is rejected, you are entitled to file a Social Security benefits appeal, however before doing so you should correct any filing deficiencies and address any problems that were identified with your initial application.

Rely On Our Childhood Disability Experience

For more than 20 years, Ken Kieklak of the Law Practice of Ken Kieklak has fought on behalf of families who want the best for their child. Ken has helped these families locate, obtain, and present evidence that increases the likelihood of a favorable benefits determination. If you have questions about whether your child with Asperger’s syndrome can qualify for disability benefits call (479) 251-7767 or contact us online.

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