Can You Get Disability For ADHD

boy wearing red shirt listening to woman

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects both children and adults. Characterized by hallmark symptoms such as impulsive behavior, difficulty sustaining attention, and marked hyperactivity, it can present significant difficulties in everyday functioning. But does ADHD qualify for disability benefits?

Understanding ADHD as a Medical Condition

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is not just a childhood condition. Many adults with ADHD face challenges that persist into adulthood. While ADHD is commonly associated with restless behavior and frequent distractibility, it encompasses a broad spectrum of symptoms.

Anxiety disorders, mood disorders, and even substance abuse can sometimes accompany severe ADHD symptoms, complicating the diagnostic landscape.

Social Security Disability for ADHD

The Social Security Administration (SSA) does recognize ADHD as a potential disability. However, to qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits or Supplemental Security Income, the symptoms must be so severe that they significantly limit one’s ability to work or perform substantial gainful activity.

To be considered for disability benefits, there needs to be substantial evidence in the form of medical records, treatment notes from mental health professionals, and other acceptable supporting documentation.

The Crucial Role of Medical Evidence

One cannot stress enough the importance of medical evidence when filing a disability claim for ADHD. Documentation from primary care doctors, mental health professionals, and other medical professionals is vital.

Objective medical evidence, such as doctor’s notes highlighting marked impairment in age-appropriate personal functioning or academic skills, can strengthen the application.

Also, recurrent motor movement, difficulty focusing attention, and similar symptoms documented by a medical doctor can provide more weight to the claim.

The Criteria Set by the Social Security Administration

For individuals with ADHD to qualify for disability benefits under the Social Security Administration (SSA), they must meet certain criteria. Here’s a breakdown:

For Children:

  • Marked Inattention: This could manifest as difficulty focusing on tasks, frequent distractions, or forgetfulness in daily activities.
  • Marked Impulsiveness: Symptoms might include acting without thinking, difficulty waiting one’s turn, or interrupting others frequently.
  • Marked Hyperactivity: Observable behaviors can be excessive talking, difficulty staying seated, or incessant fidgeting.

For Adults:

  • Chronic Sense of Underachievement: Despite efforts and potential, there’s a consistent feeling of not meeting personal or professional benchmarks.
  • Low Self-Esteem: A persistent sense of self-worthlessness or being overly critical of oneself.
  • Mood Swings: Fluctuating emotional states which can range from feelings of euphoria to deep bouts of depression.
  • Problems Sustaining Long-term Relationships: Challenges in maintaining healthy relationships, whether romantic, familial, or professional due to ADHD symptoms.

Coexisting Conditions:

  • ADHD is often accompanied by other mental conditions, such as:
    • Learning Disabilities: Difficulties in processing information or understanding new concepts which aren’t related to the person’s general intelligence.
    • Anxiety: Persistent feelings of worry, nervousness, or unease.

It’s important to understand that the presence of these symptoms does not guarantee disability benefits. The SSA evaluates how these symptoms impact the individual’s ability to function in day-to-day life. Proper documentation and evidence supporting these criteria are crucial for a successful claim.

Filing the Disability Claim

Once an individual has gathered acceptable documentation, the process involves submitting a disability application to the Disability Determination Services.

Given the nuances of ADHD, and how symptoms can overlap with other neurodevelopmental disorders, having thorough and detailed medical records is paramount.

While ADHD symptoms, such as poor coordination or challenges in age-appropriate social functioning, may alone not qualify one for benefits, they can contribute to a bigger picture of disability when combined with other conditions or extreme limitations in daily activities.

The Appeals Process

Not all ADHD disability claims are accepted upon the first submission. Sometimes, an appeals process may be necessary. But, armed with solid evidence, such as a chronic record of the aforementioned symptoms or treatment notes detailing marked impairments in everyday activities, the chances of a successful appeal can increase.


The path to securing disability benefits for ADHD is intricate, requiring a meticulous compilation of medical evidence, understanding the stipulations set by the Social Security Administration, and possibly navigating the appeals process.

While ADHD’s diverse symptoms can sometimes blur the lines of disability determination, with the right documentation and approach, individuals facing extreme challenges due to their ADHD may find the support they need.