Autism is certainly a basis for a Social Security disability claim, and there is a listed impairment for “Autistic disorder and other pervasive developmental issues” See Adult Listing 12.10 and Childhood Listing 112.10.
Typically we see autism as the basis for a childhood disability claim. However, we also see it quite a bit with a 19 year old claimant as the basis for a Social Security disability or an Adult Child Disability claim.
Every autistic child exhibits different symptoms and has a different place on the autism spectrum. These cases can take some time to see where your client fits.
Here is the adult listing:
12.10 Autistic disorder and other pervasive developmental disorders: Characterized by qualitative deficits in the development of reciprocal social interaction, in the development of verbal and nonverbal communication skills, and in imaginative activity. Often, there is a markedly restricted repertoire of activities and interests, which frequently are stereotyped and repetitive.
The required level of severity for these disorders is met when the requirements in both A and B are satisfied.
A. Medically documented findings of the following:
1. For autistic disorder, all of the following:
a. Qualitative deficits in reciprocal social interaction; and
b. Qualitative deficits in verbal and nonverbal communication and in imaginative activity; and
c. Markedly restricted repertoire of activities and interests;
B. Resulting in at least two of the following:
1. Marked restriction of activities of daily living; or
2. Marked difficulties in maintaining social functioning; or
3. Marked difficulties in maintaining concentration, persistence, or pace; or
4. Repeated episodes of decompensation, each of extended duration.
Overall, the “B” Criteria of listing 12.10 are a natural fit for an autistic claimant. Common symptoms of autism include restricted daily activities, difficulty in social functioning, and difficulty with concentration, persistence or pace. If the criteria of part A are met, in most cases part B will also be met, because the two parts are describing and measuring the same areas of functioning.
The autism listing differs in this respect from the other mental disorder listings where the disorder is defined in part A and the severity is measured in part B. Usually the two parts are largely unrelated. See, for example, listing 12.06 for anxiety. But with the autism listing, both the A and B criteria describe the same general areas of functioning.
Of course, it is quite possible for a mildly autistic person not to meet the “B” criteria. But this natural fit between the A & B criteria of the autism listing makes the listing much more likely to be met.