Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is reported to be the most common psychiatric problem diagnosed in children, although its symptoms can be recognized in adults as well. ADHD is a developmental disorder that is considered to be neurological in nature, affecting certain biological functions of the brain.
Definition of ADHD
According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, the diagnostic requirements for identifying ADHD in children are that symptoms must appear before age 7, continue for six months and affect at least two areas of childhood life, including the classroom, the playground, the home environment, the community and social settings. Guidelines suggest that having one symptom but not others does not qualify as ADHD.
Social Security Requirements
The Listing of Impairments manual used by the Social Security Administration when deciding on the authorization of benefits mandates the satisfaction of two lists of criteria for ADHD. List A requires medical documentation proving marked inattention, impulsiveness and hyperactivity. List B, specifically for children ages 3 to 17, requires medical documentation proving two of three marked impairment conditions: age-appropriate cognitive and communication functioning, social functioning, and personal functioning.
Determination of Eligibility
Once the required documentation is obtained, including the Social Security disability application forms, the case is presented to the Disability Determination Service of the Social Security Administration. The DDS first decides whether sufficient information is available. In some cases, a consultative examination by an approved psychologist is ordered to assist the DDS in making a decision on the eligibility of the child seeking benefits.
Other Related Factors
The Social Security Administration pays disability benefits only if the child's income and resources do not exceed SSA allowance guidelines. The income and resources of the child also include the income and resources of family members living with the child. Individual state disability guidelines apply in any decision made by the SSA. Payment of benefits from a state might take three to five months to begin, unless it is determined by the SSA that immediate medical attention is required.
Difficulties in Obtaining Social Security Benefits
The abundance of approved and accredited documentation to support the claims of parents or guardians of children suspected of having ADHD can present difficulties in meeting Social Security requirements. Some of the common sources of needed documentation--such as educational entities that might be involved, including school nurses and local and district school administrators--might not understand the requirements or not be fully able to meet all of the paperwork requirements.
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