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Social Security Disability for Children with ADD/ADHD

By Molly Clarke

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and/or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can impair a child’s ability to function at an age-appropriate level. As the parent of a child who has ADD or ADHD, you make it a priority to provide your child with the personalized care and support they need.  Unfortunately, not all families can afford to pay for these additional expenses.

If your child has been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD and is significantly impaired by their symptoms, your family may be eligible to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. These benefits can be used to cover your child’s everyday expenses, medical bills, and/or supportive care. Continue reading for further information about applying for and receiving SSI benefits for your child.

Types of Disability Benefits
Although Social Security Administration (SSA) offers two different types of disability benefits, children typically only qualify for SSI benefits.

SSI is a needs-based benefit program that offers disability benefits to disabled individuals of all ages who earn very little income. To qualify, applicants must fall within the financial limits set by the SSA. Child applicants, who do not earn their own income, will be assessed based on the income and financial resources of their parents or guardians. This is called deeming. It is important to note that only a portion of a parent’s income will be deemed to the child’s record. To learn more about deeming and SSI financial requirements, visit the following page:

Determining Medical Eligibility
The SSA uses a manual of disabling conditions called the "Blue Book" to evaluate an applicant’s medical eligibility for specific impairments. ADD and ADHD are both covered under Blue Book section 112.11.

To satisfy these requirements, you must be able to provide medical documentation proving that your child experiences the following symptoms:

  • Marked inattention; and
  • Marked impulsiveness; and
  • Marked hyperactivity.

Also, depending on your child’s age, he or she must demonstrate a combination of developmental delays in the following areas:

  • Gross or fine motor development;
  • Cognitive and communication functioning;
  • Social functioning; and/or
  • Personal functioning.

Learn more about the Blue Book here:

Learn more about ADD/ADHD medical requirements by reading the complete Blue Book listing, here:

Preparing for the Application Process
To prepare for your child's application you will need to gather information about his or her education, medical history, treatment, diagnosis, and household financial records. To ensure that you have collected the correct documents and records, view the SSA’s Child Disability Interview Checklist and the SSA’s Child Medical and School Worksheet. You can find these resources, here:

Once you are ready to begin the application process, you should call the SSA immediately to schedule your child’s mandatory disability interview. In addition to the interview, you will also have to fill out several forms. Although a portion of these forms can be completed online, many parents prefer to complete all paperwork at the same time as their scheduled disability interview. It is important to note that the next available interview appointment may be several months away.  While you wait, you should use the time to collect everything you’ll need for your appointment.

Receiving a Decision
After submitting your application, it is likely that you will not receive a decision for at least four months—more if your child’s application is missing information. If your initial application is denied, you should file an appeal immediately. The appeals process will give you the opportunity to collect more supporting documentation to prove that your child qualifies for SSI. If your claim moves to the appeals phase of the application process, do not be discouraged. Many more applicants are approved during the appeals process than during the initial application.

If at any point throughout the application process you feel overwhelmed or confused, it may be in your best interest to contact an attorney or advocate to help you prepare your child’s claim. Statistics have shown that hiring legal representation can increase a claimant’s chances of approval.

The key to being awarded benefits is to remain persistent in your efforts. Once you are awarded benefits, you will be able to better provide for your child.

Molly Clarke is a regular contributor to the Social Security Disability Help Blog. Social Security Disability Help is a website that works to promote disability awareness and assist individuals throughout the Social Security Disability application process. For more information you can contact Molly Clarke at



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