Intellectual Disabilities (formerly Mental Retardation)

People who suffer from a disability are often unable to work due to limitations related to the condition. Many disabled individuals are frustrated by their inability to work, and not being able to provide for their families can exasperate these negative feelings. Fortunately, people who are completely unable to work in any position for which they are qualified may be eligible to receive social security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits.

SSDI benefits are specifically intended to help disabled individuals who have worked throughout their lives. Automatic payroll deductions are used to fund SSDI, and it is used as a type of insurance policy that protects working people against total income loss in case of a long-term disability. Anyone who is struggling to pay their bills because they are unable to work due to a disability should file for SSDI benefits to help support themselves and their dependents.

What Is Intellectual Disability/Mental Retardation?

Mental retardation is a classification of mental disorders that must appear prior to adulthood. For SSDI purposes, adulthood is considered to begin at the age of 22. The condition causes symptoms that can severely interfere with cognitive function. People who have IQ scores under 70 may be classified as having mental retardation. Different rules apply depending on the score. Other symptoms that may be indicative of this condition include lack of problem-solving skills, delays in learning self-care skills, impulsive behavior, difficulty following rules and memory problems.

Can You Get SSDI For Mental Retardation?

Since mental retardation is a disability that is listed by the Social Security Administration (SSA), people who are applying for benefits due to this disability will need to meet certain requirements. It is important to see both a medical doctor and a mental health professional in order to be diagnosed with mental retardation. In some cases, the existing of another impairment in addition to the intellectual disability can meet a listing. Regular appointments with a mental health professional and medical doctor will ensure that any symptoms or complications associated with intellectual disability and any additional conditions will be placed in a file that can be sent to the SSA.

Evidence of mental retardation typically comes in the form of IQ testing by a certified professional. In some cases, SSA will have one of their doctors administer an IQ test. An evaluation that proves that the applicant has an IQ below 70 is a helpful addition to any application and scores below 60 should automatically qualify a person for benefits. School records should always be obtained if possible to show the onset before 22 and to demonstrate the applicant’s inability to match the cognitive development of peers. It may also be helpful to gather statements from relatives, friends and colleagues of the disabled individual to paint a clear picture of how limitations in mental functioning have affected the individual’s ability to care for themselves and earn an income.

Getting Help From an Attorney

Navigating the process of applying for SSDI benefits is always a difficult task, and those who are limited due to a mental condition may have even more trouble figuring out what they need to do to complete an application. The SSA is very strict about fulfilling the requirements to qualify for SSDI benefits, and it is common for people to be rejected after their first application. While it is possible to appeal a rejection, the initial filing process and consequential appeal can take a year or more to complete. Waiting longer when bills are going unpaid is often not an option for people who are suffering from a disability.

The best way to ensure that an applicant is complying with the SSA’s requirements is to hire an attorney who has experience with SSDI cases. These legal professionals have the knowledge and skills necessary to help applicants and their families with the application process. Attorneys can advise their clients about how to gather medical records and other evidence of disability in order to boost their chances of being approved for SSDI benefits after the initial application has been filed.

Ruth F. Kolb, Esquire has been practicing social security disability law since 2003 handling all levels of representation from initial claims through all stages of appeal.