Children and adults with autism may be eligible for Social Security Disability Benefits and/or Supplemental Security Income. As with all impairments, Social Security Disability Benefits is only available for people who have a work history and have paid FICA taxes. Supplemental Security Income is available for people who meet the medical requirements of disability but have no work history or haven’t paid enough in taxes.
A few years ago Social Security revised the requirements for mental health impairments. There are three diagnoses included in the Autisms Spectrum Disorder listing. They include: Autism, Asperger Syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorder.
For a child to receive Supplemental Security Income based on Autism, he must meet the requirements of the childhood listing for Autism. The listing requires qualitative deficits in verbal communication, non verbal communication and social interaction and significantly restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests or activities. He must also have an extreme limitation in one of the areas listed below or marked limitation in two of the areas listed below: understanding, remembering and applying information; interacting with others, concentrating, persisting, and maintaining pace, and adapting or managing oneself. Limitations the areas listed above can be shown through medical records, including psychological testing, school records including Individual Education Plans (IEPs) and reports from parents.
Listing 12.10 requires documentation of the same limitations but for someone over the age of 18. Limitations in those areas can be shown through the same means, medical and educational records. Reports from third parties including parents, teachers and family can also be very helpful in describing the day to day functioning level of a person with autism. Helpful areas to cover in a report include interaction with authorities, ability to stay on task, ability to make and keep friends, ability to participate in a conversation. Additionally, difficulty living independently and/or manage money are also helpful topics to address.