Breaking down the application process
Most of my readers are functioning and working –even thriving — either with or despite of their ADD / ADHD traits. However, some are finding their ADHD so problematic that it keeps them from working. This is more likely when the ADD / ADHD is compounded by severe co-occurring conditions.
If you or a loved one are in this situation, you can apply for Disability Benefits. Since this may seem like an overwhelming process, I’ve invited Ram Meyyappan, the senior writer of the Social Security Disability Help Blog (www.disability-benefits-help.org/blog), to break it down for us. Here is his excellent article on how to apply for disability benefits in the United States.
Applying for Disability Benefits with ADHD
If you are an adult with ADHD that prevents you from working, you can qualify for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA).
Qualifying Financially for Benefits
Adults who apply for disability benefits can potentially qualify under two disability programs: Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).
SSI is a needs-based program that is meant for individuals with very limited income and resources. It does not take your work history in account. For SSDI, on the other hand, you must have sufficient work history to have accumulated work credits. For specific information on the income and work credit requirements, visit: http://www.ssa.gov/disability/
Qualifying Medically for benefits as an Adult with ADHD
In general, the easiest way to medically qualify for disability is to meet a listing in the SSA’s manual of conditions that qualify for benefits known as the Blue Book. However, there is no listing for adults with ADHD. Thus, you must qualify for Social Security Disability by proving your mental residual functional capacity (RFC) is so severely affected by your condition that you are unable to maintain gainful employment.
There is no clear-cut and widely accepted clinical processes or methods for diagnosing ADHD in adults, which complicates matters even further when it comes to applying for disability benefits. This means that it is that much more important that your medical records and other supporting evidence prove beyond a doubt that you are severely limited by your condition.
Your documentation should include:
- Psychiatric and psychological testing results and notes from appointments with your mental healthcare professionals.
- Records of the types of treatments you have undergone and the effects of those treatments.
- Employment performance or disciplinary documents showing how your inability to concentration, your hyperactivity or your impulsivity made it impossible for you to effectively work.
- Academic records, if available, that demonstrate the manner in which these same ADHD symptoms impacted your ability to achieve good grades, complete assignments, attend class, or participate in other school-related activities.
- Detailed information from your therapists, psychiatrists, or psychologists, including statements detailing the diagnosis of your ADHD, medical opinions regarding the severity of your condition, and the manner in which your symptoms impact your everyday activities and abilities.
Additionally, you may experience a range of other symptoms, including other psychological and physical medical conditions. It is common for adults with ADHD to also suffer from personality disorders, anxiety and depression problems, drug abuse and addiction, and other issues.
These must also be well documented within your medical records and application to strengthen your case, as the SSA will take into consideration the combined effects of your symptoms and conditions on your ability to maintain gainful employment.
Applying for Benefits
You can apply for disability benefits either online (http://www.ssa.gov/applyfordisability/) or at your local Social Security Administration office. You should receive a decision on your claim with 3 to 6 months of submitting your application. If you are not comfortable applying on your own, you should seek the assistance of a disability attorney or advocate.
Have your ADD / ADHD tendencies undermined your work attempts to the point that you feel you should apply for Disability benefits? Before you do that, consider that most of the challenges we experience can be overcome when you learn a different way to work your traits. Habits and behavior can be changed; you may just need new direction on how to change them.
New training is coming this month!