Autism is a developmental disorder that may affect a person’s behavior and limit their ability to interact and communicate with others. Depending on its severity, autism can affect different aspects of someone’s life, including their ability to work and earn a living.
This blog explains about autism and how it affects people’s lives. It also discusses the two types of disability programs available through the Social Security Administration and how someone can receive a disability check for autism when they are disabled and unable to work. If you have questions or would like to learn more about how to qualify for autism disability benefits, speak to a Sackett Law disability lawyer.
What Programs Let You Qualify For Autism Disability Benefits?
Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance provide monthly cash payments to individuals eligible for autism disability benefits. The Social Security Administration manages both programs, but they have different eligibility requirements.
SSI is a need-based program to assist people with limited income and resources for food, shelter, and other necessities. For example, someone applying for SSI benefits cannot own assets or resources, as the SSA calls them, that exceed a total value of $2,000 for individuals and $3,000 for eligible couples.
The maximum monthly federal benefit paid through SSI in 2023 is $914 for individuals and $1,371 for eligible couples. The monthly federal benefit in 2024 will be $943 for individuals and $1,415 for someone with an eligible spouse. Your state may supplement the monthly federal benefit, depending on where you live, so you may receive more than these maximums.
The other disability program, SSDI, does not have income or asset limits, but it does require a long enough work history at jobs or self-employment. You must have paid into the Social Security system through the taxes you paid on employment or self-employment income.
The monthly SSDI cash benefit depends on an applicant’s lifetime earnings. Your monthly benefit is determined through the use of a formula. There is no minimum SSDI benefit, but the maximum monthly SSDI benefit in 2023 is $3,627, which increases to $3,822 in 2024. According to the SSA, the average benefit received by disabled workers in 2023 was $1,537.
Is Autism A Disability That Qualifies For SSI And SSDI?
There are a couple of ways to qualify for autism disability benefits. The first uses the listing of impairments, commonly called the Blue Book. The Blue Book lists physical and mental health impairments along with the criteria that must be proven with medical evidence to qualify for disability benefits through SSI and SSDI.
Autism spectrum disorder appears as a listed impairment in section 12.10 of the Blue Book. Criteria that a disability lawyer working on your behalf must prove to establish that you meet the 12.10 listing include the following:
- Qualitative verbal and non-verbal communication and social interaction deficits.
- Significantly restricted or repetitive patterns of behavior, activities, or interests.
- If a person meets the first two criteria, their symptoms must cause extreme limitations of at least two of the following mental functions: adapting, understanding, remembering, or applying information; interacting with other people; the ability to concentrate, persist, or maintain pace; and the ability to adapt or manage themselves.
Disability benefits through SSI or SSDI are for permanent conditions, so the symptoms causing the impairments must be expected to last for at least 12 months.
If a person does not meet the criteria of the autism spectrum disorder, they will not qualify for benefits by meeting or matching the listed impairment. However, there is another way to qualify for a disability check for autism based on an assessment of their residual functional capacity or RFC.
RFC refers to a person’s ability to perform work-related physical and mental tasks. The assessment of the RFC of someone with autism takes into account functional limitations imposed on mental or physical impairments of their symptoms. For example, Social Security would assess a claimant’s ability to do the following:
- Maintain pace
- Interact with other people
If appropriate in a particular case, the ability of a claimant to walk, stand, lift objects, climb stairs, and other physical activities may be included in the RFC assessment.
Other factors that determine the ability of someone to work include age, work experience, and education. A person with autism must be unable to perform a substantial gainful activity, which is determined by their ability to earn more than $1,470 monthly from working. The SGA limit increases to $1,550 per month in 2024. Social Security also considers whether the person can do work they did in the past or other types of work based on their RFC.
Speak To An Experienced Disability Lawyer
People in northern California and nationwide have relied upon the advance and representation of a disability lawyer from Sackett Law for more than four decades. If you have questions about disability benefits for autism or need assistance with an application for benefits or to appeal a denial of a claim, contact us today for a free consultation.