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Can I Get SSI for my Autistic Child?

     Parents of autistic children sometimes wonder if their child qualifies for Childhood SSI disability benefits due to Autism. Childhood SSI claims are evaluated differently than adult claims for Social Security Disability or SSI. The requirements are actually more stringent. The Social Security Administration determines whether the claimant has an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the criteria of a listing, or that functionally equals the listings.  The listing for autism requires: 

Characterized by qualitative deficits in the development of reciprocal social interaction, in the development of verbal and nonverbal communication skills, and in imaginative activity. Often, there is a markedly restricted repertoire of activities and interests, which frequently are stereotyped and repetitive.

The required level of severity for these disorders is met when the requirements in both A and B are satisfied.

A. Medically documented findings of the following:

1. For autistic disorder, all of the following:

a. Qualitative deficits in the development of reciprocal social interaction;

and

b. Qualitative deficits in verbal and nonverbal communication and in imaginative activity; and

c. Markedly restricted repertoire of activities and interests;

or

2. For other pervasive developmental disorders, both of the following:

a. Qualitative deficits in the development of reciprocal social interaction;

and

b. Qualitative deficits in verbal and nonverbal communication and in imaginative activity;

and

B. For older infants and toddlers in marked impairment in at least one of the appropriate age-group criteria; or, for children (age 3 to attainment of age 18), resulting in marked impairment in at least two of the appropriate age-group criteria.

     If the Listing cannot be proven, the claim can still be won if an impairment or combination of impairments functionally equals the listings and one must assess the claimant's functioning in terms of six domains: (1) acquiring and using information; (2) attending and completing tasks; (3) interacting and relating with others; (4) moving about and manipulating objects; (5) caring for yourself; and (6) health and physical well-being.

     Whether it is winning through the Listing or functionally equaling a Listing, the claimant must prove the case through supporting documentation. Commonly, medical records, medical opinions, teacher questionnaires, letters from caregivers are all used to support a Childhood SSI claim.

     If you need more information about a Social Security Disability/SSI matter, personal injury matter (car wreck, boating accident, slip and fall, etc.), EEOICPA claim, long or short-term disability, VA disability, or a workers compensation matter, please contact the Law Offices of Tony Farmer and John Dreiser for a free case evaluation. We can be reached at (865) 584-1211 or (800) 806-4611, through Facebook, or through our website. Our office handles claims throughout Tennessee.

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