Almost all ADHD or ADD claims filed by parents on behalf of their children for SSI benefits will not be successful. Only the most severe cases of either of these conditions will have any hope.
One of the problems right out of the gate is that mental conditions are harder to show as disabling than physical limitations. As with anything physical that goes wrong with our bodies, it can be measured in blood tests or shown through an MRI or x-ray. Physical issues can be tested in many ways and objective medical results can show whether or not a person is capable of sitting for six hours a day, standing or walking for two, his or her ability to carry more than 10 pounds, etc.
As with many mental limitations, GAF scores (for example) and doctor's assessments are highly subjective. Many mental evaluations can change from one day to the next depending on a patient's mood and external factors.
So, this is the first of many obstacles in winning an ADHD/ADD disability claim for a child. Again, because mental conditions are typically harder to quantify in regards to test results, this causes a claim to be denied usually at every stage of the process.
The second issue that any parent must overcome is that the Social Security Administration is skeptical when it comes to ADD/ADHD claims, especially in children. Everyone is hyperactive these days and just about everything a child does wrong is blamed on this condition. Doctors are over-prescribing medication for mild symptoms and when there is no other label to give to a child's behavior, it is almost always labeled as ADD/ADHD.
Third, in order to prove your child is disabled, you must show that he or she has severe difficulty in certain areas compared to other children his or her age. While the test for such is broken down between children under 3 and those 3 to 18, generally a parent must show there are severe issues with:
A) Personal functioning
B) social functioning
C) concentration, persistence, or pace
D) Cognitive or communicative functions
The issue here, is that it is very difficult to show and the results are highly subjective when attempting to prove these restrictions in a child's life. Oftentimes, treatment notes from a physician or psychologist are inadequate by Social Security standards. Further, while the Social Security Administration states that it takes into consideration evaluations by teachers and parents and the results of testing, these are still not as strong as the results of physical examinations and likely are not enough to win a disability claim.
So, if it seems impossible to win a disability claim based on ADD or ADHD, here are some things that may actually help strengthen your case:
1. If one of the parents is unable to work because their child is so disruptive and always in trouble, then this helps strengthen the case that the child is severely more limited than his or her peers. If a parent is constantly being called up to the school to remove the child, this helps prove the claim that there are severe limitations in personal or social functioning. Removal to an alternative school setting also shows severe limitations compared to other children of the same age.
2. Show how many times a child has been disciplined because of his or her behavior. This again helps show severe restrictions in personal and social functioning.
3. As parents, keep a journal of all the bad behavior, bad grades, inability to sleep, etc. If you do have to go to a hearing (an you likely will), you can present this to the judge hearing your case. It makes you and your claim much more credible.
4. Get your child tested and keep testing. Many children change from one age group to the next, and consistent tests showing your child has severe limitations again leads to credibility.
5. Get your doctor/psychologist involved. Have him or her continuously note the restrictions your child has, especially as they relate to personal and social functioning, concentration, pace, communication, etc.
Finally, realize that just because your child has ADD/ADHD, this does not mean he or she will be eligible for benefits. Remember, you must show that your child still has these above limitations even with medication. So, if medication allows your child to control his or her behavior, improve his or her grades, cognitive functioning, etc., then your child is no longer disabled. It is only when their behavior shows these limitations despite being medicated. If you are having success with treatment, do not waste your time attempting to seek benefits.