Is High-Functioning Autism Considered A Disability?

Published on: April 12, 2024

Children and adults struggling to meet the day-to-day challenges of autism spectrum disorders may need financial assistance when they are unable to work because of the disorder. The Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income programs are available through the Social Security Administration for those who qualify for disability benefits.

The Social Security Administration has a listing of impairments, also known as the Blue Book. Examiners use it as a guide to determine if someone has a disability that qualifies for SSI or SSDI disability benefits. This article explains autism spectrum disorders and how high-functioning autism is considered a disability that makes an adult or child eligible to qualify for SSD.

What Is Autism?

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder usually diagnosed during childhood. Use of the term “autism” was changed several years ago to autism spectrum disorder. The change allowed healthcare professionals to include other developmental disorders within the autism spectrum. For example, Asperger’s syndrome at one time had its diagnosis and Blue Book listing, but once doctors determined that it qualifies as a mild form of autism, they added it to the autism spectrum.

Autism symptoms differ from person to person. Signs that a child may have autism include the following:

  • Following specific behaviors or routines and exhibiting extreme reactions to changes.
  • Obsessive interest in specific things.
  • Aversion to loud sounds.
  • Repetitive behaviors.
  • Exhibiting ways of moving or paying attention that are different and unusual for their age.

Children with autism spectrum disorder typically show unique behavior patterns, making it difficult to diagnose. Delayed developmental signs usually appear within the first two years of a child’s life and should be brought to the attention of a physician when they are first observed.

Autism spectrum disorders can affect a person’s ability to interact and communicate with others. This can, in turn, cause a person to have difficulty at school by impeding the ability to learn and engage socially with others. As a person gets older, autism spectrum disorder can make it difficult or impossible for them to succeed in employment situations. Its effect on learning and employment is why autism is considered a disability.

What is High-Functioning Autism?

Doctors do not use the term “high-functioning autism” when asked to diagnose someone exhibiting symptoms of autism. When you hear people referring to someone with autism, they are referring to the person’s ability to function.

How limiting is autism disability is the question the term high-functioning autism addresses. High-functioning autism describes a person on the mild side of the autism spectrum who can perform basic life skills, speak, write, and read. Their ability to qualify for autism disability benefits depends on how their condition affects their day-to-day activities and ability to work.

How Does A Person With Autism Spectrum Disorder Qualify For Social Security Disability?

SSI and SSDI are separate programs, and you must meet distinct financial and medical guidelines to qualify for SSD benefits through them. The SSDI program is for individuals forced to stop working before retirement age and eligibility for Social Security Retirement benefits.

As a result, you must have a sufficiently long and recent work history at jobs where you paid Social Security taxes on your earnings to qualify for SSDI disability benefits. A child with a disability that began before age 22 may be eligible for benefits based on a parent's earnings record.

The need for a work history makes it difficult for someone to qualify for SSD benefits through the SSDI program except as the child of an eligible worker. However, someone with high-functioning autism may be able to work and establish a work record to qualify for autism disability benefits. A consultation with a disability advocate at Disability Experts of Florida gives you the information needed to know what disability benefits available and expert representation are to get them.

Autism disability benefits through SSI are available to adults and children with or without a work history. However, SSI is a need-based program for individuals or married couples with minimal income and resources available to pay for food, shelter, and other necessities.

Adults and children applying for disability benefits through SSI and SSDI as disabled because of autism spectrum disorder must have medical documentation, including results of examinations and test results, proving they meet the criteria contained in the Blue Book under the adult impairments or, in the case of children, the Blue Book listing of impairments for children.

Statements from family members, friends, teachers, healthcare providers, and others familiar with the child or adult seeking to qualify for SSD benefits can be helpful in proving how their condition affects their ability to function daily. This can be essential to prove is high-functioning autism is considered a disability.

Disability Experts Of Florida, Your Trusted Disability Advocates

When you need assistance to qualify for SSD benefits, the outstanding disability advocates at Disability Experts of Florida are ready to help. Contact us today for a free consultation and claim evaluation.


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