Applying for Social Security Disability with Tourette Syndrome

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):
    • Vision
    • Speech
    • Hearing
    • 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!


  1. The thing is I have had to deal with Tourette’s Syndrome since age 6 I’m 38 years old now. The most difficult thing is being in a working environment where people are always gonna be rude with looks from you and the abnormal behaviors of tics looks can be an intended staring at a tic creating a multiple tic episode because pressuring a tics timing irritates where your nerves are completely shot OCD ADHD anxiety or anything that can go hand in hand coexisting with the Tourette’s symptoms worsens it tenfold. There’s motor skill incapabilities and all sorts of things that qualify you as a hazardous liability. I can go on and on with a lot more but the fact of the matter is there’s not a single human being on the face of the earth that has any merit to say what I feel being in the most uncomfortable yucky painful feelings that have been lifelong are not gonna be a detriment to a performance that’s necessary for ANY work environment. You can’t fight an individual with experience in something they live with each and every hourly day and night over 3 decades. That argument would be absolutely moot. Any who that’s enough about my frustration with SSI Department denying someone Disability income with a Tourette’s Syndrome diagnoses.

    • Did your son started getting Tourette before or after u found out he has adhd?…
      I started noticing a tic… he started preschool then got diagnosed to adhd…he was put on meds then the tics started to come in more noticeable and different kinds…now after a year later he’s diagnosed with Tourette syndrome….recently from his emotional trauma from all the meds he now has ocd…. and his Tourette are worse without his meds….he looks as if he was having seizures from all the body jerking.

      • Same situation with my son. He started off with mild tics, then diagnosed with ADHD and now Tourettes. Only thing is he has not been on any stimulators just a med called Guanafacine which is used to lower blood pressure and so far it has helped a little in keeping him calm but I’m so against giving children medication and I won’t try anything stronger.

  2. I applied for SSI I Disability for my son who has tourette syndrome, adhd, ocd, anxiety phsycologists appointments, and also a cardio condition called wolff parkinson white syndrome, He is 13 years old and medical bills are very extreme not to mention the super expensive prescription meds. He got turned down because our income was over the Social security income limit law. I would like congress and all other representatives or government officials live on a 8.50 hour job and 1313.00 a month!Just being able to survive- no living a extreme life style on this wages! I can not work no longer do to severe physical medical problems. Mortgage, electric, gas, water, sewer, insurance , medical bills, premiums, groceries, etc…………. There needs to be some adjustments for people, like us, who need SSI-Or social security disability. My son will all his life have these conditions– Cant the State give persons with such medical problems at least a medical assistance card for getting there health needs paid for and Prescription medications at least?

  3. I have SSI for my daughter. I found out about it from the school nurse. ADHD is also on the list of conditions to qualify for SSI. It has been a big help for me as a single parent.

    • Susan, did you have any trouble getting it? Was there any waiting or red tape? I’d like to look into it.

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