Is Dyslexia A Learning Disability? Does Dyslexia Qualify For Disability Benefits?

Published on: May 15, 2024

Dyslexia is a learning disability affecting a person’s ability to read, write, and speak. It is estimated that about 15% of the United States population has the disorder.

If you or your child has been diagnosed with dyslexia, it's essential to know that disability benefits may be available. However, it's crucial to understand that the application process for benefits through the Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance programs can be complex and challenging. In fact, about two-thirds of initial applications are denied benefits annually.

Disability Experts of Florida put together information explaining when is dyslexia a disability and what it takes to qualify for benefits. If you have questions, need assistance with an application for disability benefits, or have been denied benefits and need to file an appeal, a disability advocate is available to assist you.

Social Security Administration disability programs

Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income are programs through the Social Security Administration that pay disability benefits. SSDI eligibility requires a work history that is of long enough duration and recent enough. The work must have been at jobs or through self-employment with Social Security taxes paid on the money you earned.

SSI is a need-based program that does not have a work requirement as does SSDI, but applicants must have little or no income and assets valued at no more than $2,000. Couples applying for SSI cannot have assets over $3,000.

Applicants for SSDI and adults applying for SSI must have medical records proving they have a physical or mental impairment preventing them from engaging in substantial gainful activity. The impairment or combination of impairments must be expected to last for at least 12 months or cause death.

SSI disability benefits are available to disabled children according to guidelines used by the SSA. A child must have a medical condition or combination of conditions resulting in marked and severe functional limitations. The conditions must have lasted or be expected to last for at least 12 months or be expected to cause death.

You may be wondering: Is dyslexia a disability? The answer depends on whether the condition qualifies as a disability under the SSA guidelines for adults and children.

What Is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a learning disability usually associated with impaired reading and writing, but it’s not only reading and writing that are affected by it. The disorder affects how the brain processes information, so someone with dyslexia may be unable to process information that is seen and heard. This may cause impaired organizational skills, concentration, and memory.

Does Dyslexia Qualify For Disability Benefits?

When you apply for SSDI or SSI benefits, the SSA reviews the application to determine whether it meets the non-medical eligibility criteria. For SSDI, you need a work history with payment of taxes toward the Social Security system. SSI applications are reviewed to determine if they comply with income and asset limitations. Applications that meet non-medical requirements go to a Disability Determination Services office for review to determine if the person is disabled.

The SSA has a listing of impairments, commonly referred to as the “Blue Book,” for examiners at Disability Determination Services to use. A listed impairment is considered severe enough to cause a person to meet the SSA disability guidelines.

Adults and children with dyslexia may meet or be equivalent to listing criteria for neurodevelopmental disorders in the Blue Book if they have medical documentation proving they meet specific requirements, including one or both of the following:

  • Frequent distractibility, attention deficiency, and organizational difficulties.
  • Impulsiveness and hyperactive behavior.

If a claimant meets those criteria, they also must prove the following:

  • Significant difficulty applying academic skills and learning.
  • Recurrent vocalization and motor movement

Additional guidelines to qualify for disability benefits with dyslexia include extreme or marked limitation of the following:

  • Understanding, remembering, or applying information.
  • Interacting with others.
  • Concentrating or maintaining pace.
  • Self adaption or management.

If you cannot qualify for benefits by meeting or equaling a listing, your disability advocate has other methods to rely upon to help prove you are eligible for disability benefits.

Residual Functional Capacity And Grid Rules To Qualify For Disability Benefits

If you do not meet or equal the listing criteria for dyslexia to qualify for disability benefits, your medical records may document a combination of impairments that reduce your residual functional capacity. If your RFC shows you cannot engage in past work or do other types of work that currently exist, you may qualify for benefits.

Medical-Vocational Guidelines, or Grid rules, may help you qualify for benefits if you are 50 or older and have dyslexia. The rules consider that an older person who cannot read may be limited in the type of work they can do. A disability advocate can explain Grid rules in more detail if they apply to you.

Learn How A Disability Advocate Can Help

If you or your child has been diagnosed with dyslexia, a disability advocate at Disability Experts of Florida can assist with the application process or challenge a denial of benefits. Learn more during a free consultation by contacting Disability Experts of Florida.


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