Mental Retardation

Living with a disability may severely limit a person’s ability to care for themselves. Physical and mental limitations caused by a disabling condition often make it impossible for people to work. When a person cannot earn an income due to a disability, social security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits may be available. These benefits are managed by the federal government and funded through paycheck deductions that are withheld from every paycheck. In the case of mental retardation, people who have not worked in the past may qualify for benefits.

What is Mental Retardation?

Mental retardation is a medical term that refers to people who have an IQ below 70. There are many different conditions that cause mental retardation. The condition may develop when a baby is still in the womb, and this may occur as a result of mutations in the genes or complications with a pregnancy. Complications during childbirth that limit the amount of oxygen a baby gets can also result in mental retardation.

In childhood and into adulthood, mental retardation can develop as a result of an illness like whooping cough, meningitis or measles. Severe head trauma may also result in brain damage that causes intellectual disability.

The cause of mental retardation is not always known. There is no way to reverse mental retardation, and the limitations caused by the condition vary from person to person.

Getting Disability for Mental Retardation

The SSA lists mental retardation as a recognized disability. People who have an IQ under 60 before the age of 22 automatically qualify for SSDI benefits. If a person has an IQ that is less than 70 but greater than 60, the individual can qualify for benefits if another physical or mental ailment is also present. The other condition must make it difficult or impossible for the person to complete routine job tasks with reasonable accommodations.

A person may also qualify for benefits with an IQ that is less than 70 but greater than 60 if symptoms including difficulty socializing, inability to complete routine self-care tasks, severe difficulty concentrating or periods of worsening of symptoms are present. In the case of mental retardation that occurs before the age of 22, caregivers are generally required to attest to the abilities and limitations of the applicant.

In the case of mental retardation that results after an illness or head injury, a test related to the Premorbid IQ of the applicant will be performed. This test is used to estimate the IQ of the individual prior to the injury or illness. If the discrepancy between the applicant’s current IQ and previous IQ is at least 15 points, the individual may be eligible for SSDI benefits.

In any case, it is essential for thorough medical records to be provided. The SSA will rely on these records to determine whether a disability is severe enough to prevent a person from working. In the case of mental retardation, caregivers should ensure that applicants are regularly scheduled for medical appointments and evaluations.

Getting Help from an Attorney

People who suffer from mental retardation are typically unable to navigate through the SSDI application process without help. While family members may be assigned to this task, the confusing process is frustrating for those who are not familiar with it. Because of the complex nature of applying for SSDI benefits, it is recommended that individuals consult with an attorney before beginning the application. Experienced legal professionals who specialize in SSDI cases are able to help their clients fill out the proper forms, file paperwork on time and gather medical evidence of disability. The first step in easing the burden of applying for much-needed benefits is to schedule a consultation. I have ten years of experience in social security cases and appeals, and am ready to fight for your benefits. Contact me today to get started on your case.

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.