Understanding ADHD | About ADHD | Insurance and Public Benefits | Disability Benefits
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Disability Benefits

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

SSI is a federal benefit program administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA). It provides monthly payments to people who are at least 65 years old, or blind or disabled and is reserved for people with severe, chronic conditions and great financial need. Children with ADHD up to age 18 who meet strict disability and income requirements may be eligible for SSI. For a disabled child, the program can provide the following:

  • monthly cash payments based on family income
  • qualify your child for Medicaid health care services in many states
  • ensure referral of your child into the system of care available under State Title V programs for Children with Special Health Care Needs (CSHCN)

For children with ADHD to be considered disabled for SSI purposes, their ADHD must very seriously limit their daily functioning and be present (or be expected to last) for at least 12 months. Most children with ADHD who qualify as having a disability for SSI usually have co-existing conditions along with their ADHD. In addition, children and their families must have very low incomes and few resources. Therefore, the majority of children with ADHD will not qualify for SSI.

If you decide to pursue SSI for your child with ADHD, you will be asked to provide your child's birth certificate and Social Security number and financial information. SSA will want detailed information about your child's condition and functioning from family members, teachers, doctors, counselors and others who know, work with, or care for him or her. If your child is approved for SSI, his or her information will be reviewed every three years to determine if he or she still meets the disability and income eligibility requirements. For more information on SSI, visit the Social Security Administration's Supplemental Security Income Benefits webpage and/or review Social Security: Benefits for children with disabilities or contact your local Social Security office.


Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

Social Security Disability Insurance pays benefits to you and certain members of your family if you are disabled and unable to work, and if you are "insured" (meaning that you previously worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes). SSDI has strict eligibility requirements that must be met. For an adult, eligibility requires that an individual must be unable to perform any "substantial gainful activity" (SGA) due to a physical or mental impairment that will last for a period of at least 12 months.

The process to apply for SSDI involves several steps that address the following issues:

  • current work status
  • severity of the condition
  • is the condition on the list of "disabling impairments"
  • can you do the work you previously did
  • can you do any other type of work

Adults with ADHD can qualify for disability benefits but only in cases where they can prove that their ADHD prevents them from performing substantial gainful work activity. This can be difficult for adults with ADHD to prove.


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