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Can autism be a disability?

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Autism diagnoses seem to be more common nowadays than in the past. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as many as one out of every 44 children today has some sort of autism spectrum disorder.

Those with autism spectrum disorder tend to have difficulty with repetitive tasks, social interactions and communication. These challenges, of course, can make it exceedingly difficult or even impossible to work. Fortunately, those with autism spectrum disorder may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits.

The Autism Listing

The Social Security Administration maintains a list of disabilities that usually qualify for benefits. For adults with autism, the applicable listing is 12.10. To be eligible for benefits under the listing, the applicant should have measurable defects in social interaction, communication, task performance or cognitive skills.

A Medical-Vocational Allowance

The SSA also may provide a medical-vocational allowance to adults who have autism spectrum disorder and cannot work. Essentially, this allowance grants benefits to those who cannot work but also cannot meet the autism listing or another listing. Generally, autism sufferers who want to pursue a medical-vocational allowance must prove they cannot do any job because of their impairment.

Comprehensive Documentation

Whether an applicant plans to pursue benefits through a listing or a medical-vocational allowance, it is advisable to submit as much documentation as possible. Neurological tests, medical records and vocational reports often make good evidence.

While it can be challenging for adults to obtain SSDI benefits for autism spectrum disorder, it is not impossible. Ultimately, by putting together comprehensive documentation, applicants are likely to increase their odds of receiving a favorable decision.

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