Applying for Disability Benefits for a Child with Autism {guest post}

Categories: Resources

Parents of children with autism are entitled to certain rights but often figuring out what you are entitled to is difficult and overwhelming to say the least. I have so much respect for the parents of the students in my classroom. While my job stops at 3:00, their job never ends. In addition to raising a child with autism, figuring out the never ending trail of paperwork must be beyond challenging. I have a very informational guest post today from Ram Meyyappan at Social Security Disability Help. I hope this will be helpful for parents or for teachers to pass this information along to parents in their classroom.

Applying for Disability Benefits for a Child with Autism

Autism can often take a heavy financial toll on a family. Oftentimes a parent has to stop working in order to take care of a child with Autism. In such circumstances, your family may be entitled to disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). In general, children will only qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits due to the fact that children do not have a work history.

SSI Benefits

SSI is a need-based program with structured limitations on income and other financial resources which are a primary component of technical eligibility. If your family does not exceed the limits established by the SSA, then your child may receive SSI benefits, provided all other eligibility criteria, including medical, are also met. The calculation of income and financial resources is fairly complex in evaluating eligibility for SSI. For specific information on how your financial eligibility for SSI is calculated, visit:

Medical Eligibility for with Autism

In order for a child to qualify for disability benefits, his or her condition must also meet the autism listing in the SSA’s blue book.  The blue book is the SSA’s manual that explains how severe each condition has to be in order to qualify for benefits. The severity level of your child’s autism spectrum disorder must be proven through extensive medical records that clearly demonstrate pronounced deficits in:

  • Communicating
  • Interacting socially
  • Reciprocating behaviors, communication, gestures or other actions or emotions
  • Drawing on, or participating in, imaginative thought
  • Participating in or appreciating a variety of activities or interests

For more information on qualify with Autism, please visit:

Transitioning from Child to Adult Benefits

If your child has been receiving SSI benefits as a disabled minor and is now turning 18 years of age, then he or she can continue to receive disability benefits and simply transition to adult benefits, provided your child’s condition is still severe enough to meet eligibility criteria.

It is also important to note that people with autism spectrum disorders can potentially qualify as “adult children” under the work history of a parent in order to receive SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) and/or SSI benefits. To meet the definition of adult disabled child, you must have been disabled since prior to turning age 22 and must still be able to prove the severity of your condition is such that it precludes gainful employment.

Applying for Benefits

When applying for disability on behalf of minor child, you must fill out the SSA’s application in person to initiate a claim. You can get help in completing your claim by making an appointment with your local SSA office. At that appointment, you will participate in an interview, where an SSA representative with assist in filling out the application and collecting the details necessary for the SSA to review your child’s eligibility.

Knowing what to Expect

The application and review processes for disability benefits can be complex and lengthy.  It is also common for many applicants to be denied following the initial review. You can however request a second review and an appeal if necessary.

You may want to seek help with your application from a disability advocate or attorney.  Someone more familiar with the process can increase your chances of being approved. An advocate or attorney can also assist in any requests for additional information, secondary reviews, or appeals you must go through as well.


Article by Ram Meyyappan
Social Security Disability Help


  1. It is also possible for benefits to be denied after getting approved. We have two boys receiving benefits and the paperwork requirements and rules are intensive and confusing.

    Even with two high functioning parents the benefits are often getting turned off over technicalities. Parents make sure you train a younger cohort to manage this process for the day when you are no longer able to do so yourselves.

  2. Such a good point – thanks for sharing, Kevin.

  3. Kevin H. You are so correct. We are currently going through this now. Benefits was suddenly terminated. S. S. I. is telling us that my son, who is autistic but high functioning, is not considered disabled to them. I am confused and angry!

  4. I am so upset. My daughter is 30 with high functioning autism but is totally dependent on me as she can’t sustain employment for longer than a couple of weeks. SSI has turned her down twice; 12 years ago when she was 18, butI did not appeal as I thought “let’s try and train her for something”… well after 12 years of failures we applied again to be turned down. What is one to do? I have all the records from public school but they won’t accept them from me and school won’t respond to SS requests as its been too long since she graduated. Shall I start sending her to psychologist again to rebuild our case?


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