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  • Christopher Le

Why is it so tough to win a Social Security Disability case for a Child with ADD or ADHD?

The Challenges of Winning a Disability Case for Children with ADD or ADHD: Understanding the Requirements for Success


Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are neurodevelopmental disorders that can significantly impact a child's daily functioning and educational performance. While these conditions can be disabling, winning a disability case for a child with ADD or ADHD can be an uphill battle. In this blog, we will explore the complexities of such cases and shed light on the requirements necessary to increase the chances of success.

  1. Establishing a Medically Determinable Impairment:

To win a disability case, it is crucial to demonstrate that the child has a medically determinable impairment. This requires presenting medical evidence from qualified healthcare professionals who have evaluated and diagnosed the child with ADD or ADHD. Diagnostic reports, psychological evaluations, and school records documenting academic difficulties can contribute to building a strong case.

2. Proving Functional Limitations:

Winning a disability case for ADD or ADHD hinges on establishing the presence of significant functional limitations that adversely affect the child's ability to engage in age-appropriate activities. This can include difficulties with sustained attention, impulsivity, hyperactivity, organizational skills, and social interactions. Comprehensive documentation from teachers, caregivers, therapists, and other professionals who have observed the child's impairments can strengthen the case by illustrating the impact of ADD or ADHD on daily functioning.

3. Demonstrating Impairments in Multiple Settings:

To strengthen the case, it is crucial to demonstrate that the child's impairments extend beyond a single environment, such as the school setting. This requires presenting evidence of limitations in various domains, including home, community, and social settings. Documentation from parents, guardians, extracurricular activity leaders, and healthcare providers can help establish the pervasive nature of the impairments and their impact on the child's overall functioning.

4. Exhausting Alternative Remedies:

A key requirement for winning a disability case is to show that the child's impairments persist despite appropriate treatments, interventions, and accommodations. This involves demonstrating that the child has received comprehensive medical care, educational support, and therapy to address the symptoms and functional limitations associated with ADD or ADHD. Documentation of treatment plans, medication history, therapy sessions, and educational accommodations can all contribute to meeting this requirement.

5. Meeting the SSA's Listing or Functional Equivalence Criteria:

To win a disability case, the child's impairments must either meet the specific criteria outlined in the Social Security Administration's (SSA) Listing of Impairments for ADHD or establish functional equivalence. The Listing of Impairments provides guidelines for determining disability based on specific diagnostic criteria. Alternatively, functional equivalence can be established by demonstrating that the child's impairments are functionally equivalent to the severity of a listed impairment. This requires presenting evidence of significant limitations in several functional domains, such as acquiring and using information, attending and completing tasks, and interacting and relating with others.


Winning a disability case for a child with ADD or ADHD is challenging due to the complexities involved in establishing medical evidence, functional limitations, and meeting the SSA's criteria. Thorough documentation from qualified healthcare professionals, teachers, caregivers, and other individuals familiar with the child's impairments is crucial. By understanding the requirements necessary to strengthen a case, parents and advocates can navigate the process more effectively and increase the chances of success in obtaining the disability benefits their child needs.

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