There are many symptoms that an individual with Tourette’s syndrome may suffer from that can prevent that individual from maintaining full-time work activity. The inability to work can lead to significant financial distress. Fortunately, in some cases, Social Security Disability benefits can help alleviate some of the financial stress caused by the condition.
Qualifying for Disability Benefits with Tourette’s syndrome
In order to be eligible to receive disability benefits from the Social Security Administration, you must meet the SSA’s medical qualifying criteria. When you apply for Social Security Disability benefits, the SSA will compare your condition to a listing of conditions known as the Blue Book. This publication contains all of the conditions that could potentially qualify an individual for Social Security disability benefits, along with the criteria that must be met for each condition.
Unfortunately there is no specific listing for adults with Tourette’s syndrome in the SSA’s Blue Book. Individuals who suffer from Tourette’s syndrome may, however, be able to qualify under a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) Evaluation.
The SSA will evaluate both your physical and mental residual functional capacity. The physical RFC will evaluate your ability to sit, stand, walk, lift, climb, etc. The mental RFC will evaluate your ability to mental and emotional work-related activities such as interacting with co-workers and getting along, ability to follow direction, etc. People with Tourette’s are more likely to qualify through the mental RFC since the symptoms of Tourette’s are frequently disruptive and can have an adverse impact on an individual’s ability to interact and be productive in the work place.
Children, on the other hand can qualify for by meeting the listing for tic disorders in the blue book. The child must experience:
- Ongoing, involuntary motor movements that are repetitive, rapid, and purposeless that affect multiple muscle groups along with multiple vocal tics
- Ongoing difficulty with one of the following (not caused by a physical illness or disease):
- Use of an arm or leg
- Movement and control of the body
- Physical sensation
- Digestion or elimination (urinating or defecating)
- The obsessive belief that the child has a serious disease or injury
In addition, the child must have severe difficulties in two of the following areas:
- Age-appropriate cognitive or communicative function
- Age-appropriate social functioning
- Age-appropriate personal functioning
- Maintaining concentration, persistence or pace
Meeting the SSA’s Technical Criteria Requirements
The Social Security Administration operates two different disability programs including Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Each program has its own qualifying criteria.
In order to qualify for SSDI benefits, if you are under the age of 24 you must have earned at least 6 work credits in order to qualify for benefits. Work credits are earned through work activity when you pay Social Security taxes. As of 2013, for each $1,160 that you earn, you receive one work credit. You can earn up to a maximum of four work credits per year.
If you are too young to have earned any work credits, you may be able to qualify for SSDI benefits under the work record of your parents if you are under the age of 18, under the age of 19 and in elementary or secondary school full time, or are over the age of 18 with a disability that began before you reached the age of 22.
If you or your parents do not have a work record that qualifies you for SSDI benefits, you may qualify for SSI benefits. You do not need any work credits to qualify for SSI benefits. SSI is a needs-based program that is intended for low-income individuals and families. In order to qualify for SSI benefits, as of 2013 your household income cannot exceed $710 per month as an individual or $1,060 per month as a couple. Your household assets must also be no more than $2,000 as an individual or $3,000 as a couple.
If you are age 18 or younger, the SSA will use a process called deeming to determine your household income. Your household income in addition to a parental living allowance will determine whether or not you can qualify for SSI benefits.
Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits
If you are 18 years of age or older, you can apply for Social Security Disability benefits online or in person at your local Social Security office. If you are under the age of 18, you must apply for benefits in person at your local Social Security office as no online application is available for child applicants.
When applying for disability benefits, you will be asked to fill out a number of forms including a disability checklist, a disability report, and the actual disability application. Make sure that you are very detailed in the answers that you provide on these forms and that you supply the SSA with sufficient medical evidence to support your claim for disability benefits. You will receive a notification regarding the SSA’s decision of your claim within three to six months of the date of your initial application.
For more information on applying for disability benefits with Tourette’s Syndrome, please click here!