Social Security Disability and Asperger’s Syndrome: Filing for Benefits

by Jul 14, 2017Disability Benefits

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Asperger’s syndrome is an autism spectrum disorder that causes difficulties with communication and social functioning. While children with Asperger’s tend to develop cognitive functions at the same rate as their peers and often excel in school, their social development lags behind, leading to isolation, depression, and anxiety as they reach adolescence and beyond. For adults, Asperger’s can make it difficult to communicate with, relate to, and empathize with others, often leading to challenges in the workplace and in social settings.

If you or your child has Asperger’s syndrome, you might be eligible for disability benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) grants benefits when a person’s medical condition interferes with school, work, or daily activities.

The process of filing for benefits for Asperger’s syndrome can be complex. Sometimes, a valid claim receives a denial because the applicant left out a crucial piece of evidence.

The skilled disability attorneys at the Disability Advantage Group, can examine your claim, gather all the evidence you need, and make sure you present a complete and compelling case to the SSA. We specialize in disability claims and can put our expertise to work for you. Call 865-566-0800 today for a free consultation.

What type of disability benefits might I qualify for?

There are two types of disability: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSDI is a government disability insurance program for workers who become disabled. SSI is a welfare program for low-income, low-asset households that include someone with a disability.

Which program you qualify for depends on a few factors. If you have a sufficient work history and have paid into Social Security via payroll taxes, you might qualify for SSDI. This program offers higher benefit amounts depending on how much you have paid in throughout your career. If you have little to no work history or are applying on behalf of a minor child with Asperger’s, you are only eligible for SSI.

Our attorneys can evaluate your situation, determine which program is more appropriate, and build a thorough application that meets the SSA’s strict requirements.

Does my Asperger’s syndrome qualify for disability?

For disability benefits, we first need a diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome from a medical professional that meets the SSA’s criteria for autism spectrum disorders. We need medical documentation that shows your disorder causes a marked limitation in some of these areas:

  • Social interaction;
  • Communication;
  • Ability to focus on activities outside of your areas of interest;
  • Learning and applying new information;
  • Concentration; and
  • Personal adaptability.

Then, we must provide proof that your condition significantly hampers your ability to work or go to school, perform activities of daily living, and interact with others.

Lastly, we will document any other physical or mental limitations you have aside from Asperger’s syndrome. Since Asperger’s, like all forms of autism, falls on a spectrum and can vary significantly from one patient to the next, the SSA’s decision on whether to approve your case can be highly subjective.

Because of this, the more evidence we can include, the better. It is possible that your Asperger’s alone is not enough for approval, but if we submit evidence of another condition on top of it, the combined effects might enable you to qualify.

Special Criteria for Children

There are some special criteria you should be aware of if you are applying for SSI disability on behalf of a child with Asperger’s syndrome. To meet the SSA’s childhood criteria for Asperger’s, we must provide evidence that your child’s condition causes significant impairments compared to other children of the same age in one or more of the following areas:

  • Communication;
  • Learning and retaining information;
  • Engaging in activities outside of a narrow personal focus;
  • Completing age-appropriate tasks;
  • Social interaction; and
  • Self-care activities, such as tying shoes, brushing teeth, and watching for cars before crossing the street.

If the SSA approves your child for benefits, they will review their case on or near their 18th birthday to determine if the child is eligible to continue receiving benefits as an adult.

Are there any income requirements to qualify for disability?

The income requirements for disability depend on whether you are applying for SSDI or SSI. For SSDI, you must earn below $1,170 per month to qualify for the program.

The average amount you paid into the system via payroll taxes each year determines your benefit amount. For the most part, the more money you made per year—and the more you paid in payroll taxes—the higher your benefit amount. Our attorneys can look at your income documentation and calculate what your monthly benefit should be.

If you are applying for SSI, you cannot make above a certain income per month or claim assets above a certain amount. As of 2017, the monthly income cap is $735 for an individual and $1,103 for a married couple. An individual must have less than $2,000 in assets, while a couple can have up to $3,000.

Be aware, not all the money you earn or hold in assets counts toward these totals. You may claim certain exemptions and deduct qualifying expenses. We can help you with this process so you can make sure you do not over-report your income and receive a denial as a result.

Do I need a lawyer?

You have the best chance of a favorable outcome for your disability application when you have skilled representation. The attorneys at the Disability Advantage Group, specialize in disability claims. We understand all the nuances of the process and can ensure your application is complete and compelling. If you received a denial, we can help you appeal the SSA’s decision. Let us put our experience and resources to work for you. Call 865-566-0800 today for a free consultation.