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Applying for SSDI with autism spectrum disorders, P.2

In our last post, we began looking at autistic disorders, and the gifts and challenges they can present for those who have them. As we noted, the impairments faced by such individuals all too often prevent them from finding and keeping work.

While the exact rate of unemployment for adults with autism is not known, most experts agree that it is as high as 85 percent, despite the fact that they typically have above-average intelligence. In some areas of the country, like New York, there are groups that help adults with autism to find work that accommodates their special needs. Because of the challenges they face, though, many of those with autism spectrum disorders still struggle to earn adequate income and may find themselves in need of the extra security offered by SSDI.

The Social Security Administration recognizes autism and other pervasive developmental disorders as a legitimate disability for which one can receive SSDI. In order to meet the required level of severity for autism disorders, two things must be shown.

The first thing is that there must be medically documented findings of qualitative deficits of reciprocal social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and imaginative activity, and a significantly restricted repertoire of activities and interests. The second thing is that there must also be documented significant difficulties in at least two of several areas, including daily living, maintaining social functioning, maintaining concentration, persistence or pace, or repeated and extended episodes of decompensation.

For other pervasive developmental disorders, such as Asperger syndrome, one need not show a restricted repertoire of activities and interests, but all of the other requirements must be met.

Those who struggle with an autistic disorder and there caretakers, who feel they may benefit from SSDI, should- like anybody looking at applying to the program-strongly consider speaking with an attorney who has knowledge of how to navigate the system and increase their chances of having their claim accepted. This is especially helpful if an appeal becomes necessary.

Source: USA Today, "Asperger's Are Us comedy troupe plays off their disability," Karen Weintraub, April 13, 2012

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