How to file for disability, Filing for SSI
Disability Requirements, Disability Status
How long is the wait?, Disability Application
The Social Security List of Impairments
Qualifying for Disability, Mental Disability
Disability Lawyer Info, Disability Back Pay

Qualifying for disability with Attention Deficit, ADHD


Can you get disability for ADHD?

Yes, you can qualify to receive either Social Security Disability or SSI benefits based on ADHD. If you are an adult, this may be in the form of a medical vocational allowance which we will discuss further down the page. First, we will discuss how to get disability for attention deficit for a child.

How to get disability for ADHD if you are a child

Although Social Security does not have an impairment listing for adults with ADHD, they do have a specific impairment listing dedicated to childhood ADHD.

The children’s ADHD listing, 112.11, requires that a child’s attention deficit disorder be characterized by developmentally inappropriate degrees of inattention, impulsiveness, and hyperactivity.

To meet the criteria of the listing, there must be medical documentation of the following three criteria:

1. Marked inattention;
2. Marked hyperactivity;
3. Marked impulsiveness.

The word "marked" in Social Security terminology means "significant and clearly evident".

The criteria of the child ADHD listing is drawn from listing 112.02, Organic brain disorders. This is because ADHD is considered a developmental disorder rather than a psychiatric disorder. And the functional criteria contained in that listing addresses limitations in age-appropriate areas of cognitive functioning, social functioning, maintaining concentration, persistence, or pace, and communication skills for toddlers through age 18.

Functional abilities for children are based upon testing, school performance, and the observations of medical professionals; whereas for adults, functional ability can be evaluated through work history details (such as can they maintain a job, can they get along with coworkers or supervisors, and can they deal with customers?).

What Social Security will review to make the decision

If you are filing a disability claim for a child with ADHD, Social Security will want to review the child's medical records, but also the school records, including their grades and their IEPs. Additionally, the disability examiner working on the claim will often send a teacher questionaire to one or more of the child's teachers. These questionaires can be very helpful in documenting the functional limitations the child has a result of their attention deficit disorder.

How to get disability for ADHD if you are an adult

The majority of people think that ADHD is just a childhood psychiatric disorder that affected individuals grow out of. Unfortunately, this is not true. Most statistical evidence suggests at least sixty percent of the people diagnosed with ADHD as children continue to have ADHD as adults.

While some sources suggest that an adult could possibly meet or equal the childhood listing (discussed above) if they have a history of treatment for ADHD as a child, it is more likely that adults who get approved through a listing will satisfy the criteria of another mental impairment listing whose symptoms are similar to ADHD.

That said, the majority of adults who are approved will be awarded after an evaluation of their medical and work history. If your ADHD has prevented you from being able to stay on task, remember things, complete assignments, get along with co-workers or employers, or caused significant problems dealing with social settings required for work, then you may qualify for disability on the basis of a medical vocational allowance.

The first litmus test when an adult files, however, regards work activity.

To get disability, your condition must significantly limit your ability to work

To get disability as an adult, your condition must be severe. How severe? Severe enough to prevent you from working at a substantial and gainful earnings level for at least 12 months. "Substantial and gainful" simply means that you cannot work and earn more than a certain amount in order to be eligible. To see the SGA earnings limit: How much can you work and earn while on disability?

How Social Security will review your case

As with most adult disability claims, Social Security will review both your medical records and your work history. The examiner will look at your medical evidence to determine what your physical or mental functional limitations are. What you are still able to do, despite your condition, is called your residual functional capacity or RFC. Your RFC is compared to what your past jobs required of you.

If your limitations are too great, Social Security will determine that you cannot go back to your past work. However, this does not mean you are approved. The next step in the medical vocational approval process is to decide if you have the ability to do some type of other work. If you can't, then you will qualify for disability.

Note that Social Security considers your age, education, skill transferability, past work history, and residual functional capacity when making a medical vocational disability determination.

How do you improve the chances of winning disability for ADHD?

Your chances of being approved are greatly increased if you were treated for ADHD as a child (toddler to age 18). If you were not treated as a child, but are being treated now for the disorder, there is still a chance you may be approved. It is important to have treatment notes that address how ADHD has limited your functional capacity.

Remember, Social Security Disability focuses on functional capacity rather than just being diagnosed with a condition when they make a disability determination.

Or, it may be possible to meet the severity criteria of another listing such as affective disorder (depression, bipolar) or organic brain disorders (part of the childhood ADHD listing refers to this listing for functional criteria).

If you'd like to learn more about ADHD, please read the sections below.

Types of Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

While ADHD is a stand-alone diagnosis, many individuals with ADHD have other mental conditions in conjunction with their ADHD disorder. There are three types of attention deficit disorder: Combined, Predominately inattentive, and Predominately hyper-impulsive. People who are affected by the combined disorder are much more likely to suffer from other mental conditions (i.e. depression, anxiety, etc.).

The symptoms of ADHD

ADHD disorder can be a very debilitating disorder for both adults and children. The symptomology of ADHD is sometimes similar to those of other conditions such as borderline personality disorder, antisocial disorder, bipolar disorder, schizoaffective disorder, and schizophrenia.

Children and adults with ADHD can suffer from persistent motor hyperactivity making them feel restless and unable to relax even while performing an activity.

They may be unable to maintain attention and concentration; be short tempered (short outbursts, constant irritability, or easily provoked); be extremely impulsive (never consider the consequences of their actions); be prone to emotional overreaction (ordinary stress causes anger, depression, anxiety, etc.); or have mood swings from normal to excitement or depression that can occur reactively or spontaneously.

Essential Questions

What is the Social Security Disability SSI list of impairments?

Can you work while getting or applying for Disability?

How Often Does Social Security Approve Disability The First Time You Apply?

Tips for getting Social Security Disability or SSI benefits approved

What medical conditions will get you approved for disability?

What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?

Receiving a Disability Award Letter

Conditions Social Security will recognize as a disability

Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

Applying for disability in your state

Most popular topics on SSDRC.com

Social Security Disability SSI Questions

The listings, list of disabling impairments

Can a mental illness qualify you for disability?

Disability Lawyers prevent unnecessary denials

How much Social Security Disability SSI back pay?

How to apply for disability for a child or children

Filing a Social Security Disability SSI application

Filing for disability - when to file

How to apply for disability - where to apply

Qualifications for disability benefits

How to Prove you are disabled and Win your Disability Benefits

Qualifying for Disability - The Process

How to get disability for depression

Getting disability for fibromyalgia

SSI disability for children with ADHD

What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?

Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

Social Security Disability SSI Exam tips

More Social Security Disability SSI Questions

Social Security Disability SSI definitions

What makes you eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI?

New and featured pages on SSDRC.com

Who can help me file for disability?

Related Body System Impairments:

Can You Get Approved For SSI or SSD Benefits IF You Have A Mental Condition But Do Not Take Medication?
Will Your Claim for Disability be Handled Differently if it is Based on a Physical or Mental Problem?
Can I Qualify For Disability and Receive Benefits based on Depression?
The Social Security Disability and SSI Process for Mental Claims based on Mental Disorders
When you file for disability and have both Mental and Physical Conditions
What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?
Are SSI and Social Security Disability Requirements Tougher For Mental Claims?
Social Security Disability, SSI, Mental Disorders, and Functional Limitations

These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

Can you get temporary Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?

Permanent Social Security Disability

What is the difference between Social Security Disability and SSI?

Who is eligible for SSI disability?

Can I Be Eligible For SSI And Social Security Disability At The Same Time?

What makes a person eligible to receive disability benefits?

Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?

What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?

For the sake of clarity, SSDRC.com is not the Social Security Administration, nor is it associated or affiliated with SSA. This site is a personal, private website that is published, edited, and maintained by former caseworker and former disability claims examiner, Tim Moore, who was interviewed by the New York Times on the topic of Social Security Disability and SSI benefits in an article entitled "The Disability Mess" and also by the Los Angeles Times on the subject of political attempts to weaken the Social Security Disability system.

The goal of the site is to provide information about how Social Security Disability and SSI work, the idea being that qualified information may help claimants pursue their claims and appeals, potentially avoiding time-consuming mistakes. If you find the information on this site helpful and believe it would be helpful to others, feel free to share links to its homepage or other pages on website resource pages, blogs, or social media. Copying of this material, however, is prohibited.

To learn more about the author, please visit the SSDRC.com homepage and view the "about this site" link near the bottom of the page.