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How does the SSA define 'autism' for mental illness disability?

There are various mental disabilities that New Jersey residents are born with or can develop that limit their ability to complete the tasks of daily life, including earning a living. This blog has previously discussed some of the different categories that the Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes in its "Blue Book" as qualifying applicants for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI.) We've also touched on some of the difficulties that are involved in providing evidence for certain mental disabilities.

One disability that has gotten a good deal of attention over the last decade or so is that of autism. While there has been public controversy over potential causes of the condition, it is one that has caught the attention of certain segments of the population as some celebrities have publicly opened up about their children who have some form of autism. Moreover, as a "spectrum" condition, there is a good deal of variation in the severity of the symptoms that individuals might display.

The SSA's Blue Book attempts to give guidance for people who are applying for SSDI or SSI as to how to present a proper case. First, as always, the symptoms of the condition must be medically documented. For autism, applicants should show that there is a problem with social interactions, communication (whether verbal or non-verbal) and imaginative activity. These deficiencies must be qualitative in nature. Further, the applicant should show that he or she has a markedly restricted group of interests and activities due to the condition. Finally, these various symptoms need to result in marked problems with social functioning, the performance of daily activities, or concentration, persistence or pace.

Many people with autistic disorders can still lead full, rich lives. However, in some instances, their abilities to provide for themselves at a level sufficient for survival may be compromised. Those individuals who need to look at government benefits such as SSDI for a mental illness disability may wish to consider consulting an experienced New Jersey attorney.

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