Guest Post: How to Apply for Disability Benefits for an Autistic Child

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The Social Security Administration (SSA) does recognize autism as a potentially disabling condition; however, your child must be severely autistic in order to meet the SSA’s eligibility requirements. This is because many children who suffer from more mild forms of autism are able to function at a nearly “normal” level socially and academically.

Children with more severe forms however, do require significant supportive care, which can leave you financially strapped. Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits can give you the financial resources you need to ensure your child receives the consistent support and attention he or she needs and deserves.

Supplemental Security Income

Children who meet the SSA’s eligibility requirements receive benefits through the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. SSI is a need-based program, which means it has strict criteria regarding financial status for children to qualify. In other words, even if your child suffers from severe autism and meets the SSA’s definition of disability, he or she may not meet the financial eligibility requirements for getting SSI benefits.

The income and other financial resources you and your child have available will be thoroughly reviewed by the SSA, and must be very limited in order for your child to receive SSI benefits. The calculation of income and resources is fairly complex, with some sources counting and others not. To learn more about SSI financial criteria, visit:

Medical Eligibility for SSI

For your child to be found medically eligible to receive SSI benefits, he or she must be severely impaired. To prove severe developmental impairment, you must have substantial medical records documenting specific information, including:

  • Severe limitations in interacting socially
  • Pronounced communication deficits
  • Inability to engage in age appropriate activities that require imagination
  • Very limited involvement in a broader range of interests and/or activities

You must also have the following information well documented in his or her medical records:

  • For children between 1 and 3 years of age, a pronounced limitation in at least one of the following areas:
    • Fine motor skills
    • Communication and/or cognitive abilities
    • Age appropriate social functioning
  • For children between the ages of 3 and 18, severe limitation in at least two of the following areas is necessary:
    • Communication and/or cognitive function
    • Age appropriate social functioning
    • Inability to provide age appropriate self care in everyday activities
    • Pronounced difficulties with concentrating, remaining focused and on task, or in completing tasks at a reasonable/normal pace

Medical Evidence and SSI Eligibility

The documentation in your child’s medical records must meet certain standards in order to prove the criteria listed above. You must work closely with your child’s doctor to ensure the right tests have been completed to satisfy the SSA’s evidentiary requirements. You may also want to consider seeking assistance from a Social Security advocate or attorney who is familiar with handling autism disability claims.

The Application Process

You can begin the application process by contacting your local SSA office and obtaining a copy of the Child Disability Starter Kit. You can also get the kit from the SSA’s website.

The kit will tell you how the application and review processes work and what information you will need to complete the SSA’s application for benefits. Required information includes your child’s medical history and school records. Additionally, as SSI is a need-based program, you must present the SSA with financial records as well.

To finalize an application for SSI benefits on behalf of a child, you must participate in an interview with an SSA representative. If you have a caseworker from family and social services with whom you work, he or she can arrange the SSA interview appointment for you, or you can contact your local SSA office directly to make an appointment.

Article by Ram Meyyappan
Social Security Disability Help

For more information on Autism and Disability, please visit:


Am I a Helicopter Mom?

Today I took my son with me to the computer repair place to drop off his laptop. Naturally, he was all over the place during the entire process – running around the store, making all the little holiday novelty toys make noise at the same time (repeatedly), slipping behind the counter, and making loud noises.

I am used to getting thrown out of most public places (grocery stores, restaurants, movie theaters, churches… shall I go on?) when this type of behavior emerges, so naturally I was a bit on edge, redirecting him as much as possible. Every two seconds. The store’s owner absolutely took a liking to my son and constantly told me while this was occurring to “let him go”, “let him explore and be a boy”, and “stop being a Mother Hen”.

I could have been insulted, but you and I both know that as a mother of a child on the Autism Spectrum we are frequently forced to be Helicopter Moms. Mostly I am used to hearing the opposite words than today’s experience: “Would you please control your child”, “You need to spank him or something”, and “Why do you let him do that?” So… yes. I hover.

I do know that when our world is immersed in sensory processing, Autism, and disability daily reminders, we can honestly forget that our child is just a child and sometimes they are doing what boys do! Still, people can often make judgments or assumptions based on the behaviors they see at that moment. This gentleman saw some loud noises, mild hyperactivity, and repetitive behavior and it didn’t bother him. What he didn’t know is that my son can have tendencies to:

  • Break items with impulsive movements
  • Hurt himself due to sensory-seeking behaviors like crashing into things
  • Make poor decisions because of the absence of a sense of danger
  • Disturb other people by being a “space invader”
  • Become so overloaded with sensory input that he is no longer able to hear and understand commands
  • Yell inappropriate things
  • Run away, sometimes into traffic

We lucked out this time. But where is that balance between being a Helicopter Mom and leaving some space for my child to show me that he can handle more than I may be letting him? Am I limiting his natural abilities to learn what’s appropriate and work things out? Or am I protecting him in the right way? Is it up to others’ reactions?

I don’t know the answers to these questions, but the good news is that I can keep asking them and tweaking our experience along the way! I am not insulted by being called a “Mother Hen”, I am actually grateful for the opportunity to take a look at the way I support my child and possibly adjust for a better outcome if I find some truth in it.

What about you? Do you balance between hovering and allowing? Has it burned you or surprised you before? I’d love to see your comments below or on the SOA Facebook page!

My children, Malamute/Husky pack and I wish you and your family a wonderful, abundant and joyful Holiday Season!

TYSA Brings TOPSoccer to the Community Again

Spring is in the air, and on the TYSA soccer field it is also buzzing with excitement! Young athletes with a spectrum of disabilities – some familiar with each other from the program’s debut in Fall 2010 and some new faces – greeted each other on Sunday, March 13 at Henderson Park.

“We are very excited about the start of the second season of the TOPSoccer Program at TYSA.  The feedback from the parents, players and volunteers from our inaugural season has been tremendous.  We look forward to building upon the initial success of the program and the opportunity it provides to these young athletes.  It is, without a doubt, one of the most rewarding and fulfilling programs the TYSA has been involved with since it’s inception in the late ‘70’s”  says Ken Barnett, the Director of the TOPSoccer Program at TYSA.

TOPSoccer (The Outreach Program for Soccer) is a community-based soccer training program for young athletes with disabilities, organized by Tucker Youth Soccer Association volunteers. The program is designed to bring the opportunity of learning and playing soccer to any boy or girl, who has a mental or physical disability. Our goal is to share the love of soccer with young athletes with disabilities. Through TYSA’s TOPSoccer program, these special young athletes feel that they are an integral part of Tucker Youth Soccer Association.  This program is open to all kids with any type of physical or mental disability between the ages of 6-18.

The TOPSoccer program at TYSA has been partially funded through grants from US Youth Soccer and adidas®.  These initial grants are helping to support the cost associated with starting this special program by allowing TYSA to provide TOPSoccer player with the basic equipment they need to participate in the program.

As the parent of a child on the Autism Spectrum, I am delighted to see the return of the amazing program, and so is my son! He greeted old teammates and welcomed new faces as he ran onto the field last week to start some drills.

I am really grateful for TOPSoccer; he hasn’t been able to participate in any type of organized sports in the past. It was also a great measure for me to see all the coordination and movement work I’ve been doing with him at home pay off in a safe environment!

TOPSoccer will meet in Henderson Park on Field 4 Sundays from 1 – 2 pm. Players and parents will meet on five Sunday afternoons for practice and then culminate in a Jamboree on the sixth Sunday.

Registration Fee: $25, which includes a Jersey, Socks, Shin Guards, a Ball, and a Carrying Bag.

Doctor’s approval required.

For further questions please contact Nancy Marsden, at or 404.219.3752.