Should I Reapply for My Daughter's SSI if She Had Special Ed as a Child?

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Question

My daughter is 38 years old, and has never had any job other than food service in her late teens/early twenties. From kindergarten through high school, she was in special ed for aphasia, ADHD, borderline IQ (high 70s), and severe multiple learning disabilities. There is no documentation available from those years.

She has been unable to find any kind of job. I applied for SSI for her, took it up to the first appeal, then gave up. I had also applied to one of the Regional Centers (for the developmentally disabled) without success. One of her problems is that she does not want to be viewed as disabled, and will put up a very strong "front" when interviewed or questioned.

I did pay an LCSW at about 4 years ago to test her and provide an opinion as to her disability. I received a 2-page letter giving the opinion that she was Other Health Impaired under the DSM-IV 5th category of developmental disorder.

My question is -- should I apply for SSI for her again? If so, what kind of medical documentation should I try to assemble? What type of specialist(s) should she see and what kind of testing should be done?

Answer

If you believe your daughter is disabled for the reasons you gave, you should probably file another application for disability. A disability attorney or nonattorney representative might look at her case this way: The client has a borderline IQ, ADHD, and a history of special ed classes…. There may be a possibility of approval under the Social Security Administration's disability listing for mental retardation. The requirements of this listing are as follows: a claimant must have a valid IQ score (verbal, performance, or full scale) of 60 through 70 AND a physical impairment or another mental impairment that imposes additional, significant work-related limitations.

Does this client have a qualifying IQ score? It doesn't sound like it, but, then again, it doesn't sound as if recent IQ testing has been conducted, or that the school records have been examined. You should have her IQ tested and try to locate her school records and hire a disability attorney to get an informed opinion of where her chances are. If you file again and appeal the case to a hearing in front of an administrative law judge (the second level of appeal), she has a better chance of winning benefits.

How do you get the school records? Sometimes, it takes a lot of digging. In some school districts, the school last attended has all of the records. In others districts, records of former students are kept in hardcopy form or on microfiche in a central repository. Check with the school she last attended and with the school board. It may be, as you said, that her records are unavailable, perhaps because they were lost or were inadvertently destroyed. But it may also be that you need to look harder for them in the district where she went to school. School records are important to winning disability.

Depending no her specific mental limitations, it can still be difficult to get disability with a low IQ because Social Security will point out that there are many unskilled jobs that require only simple, routine, reptitive tasks that someone with a low IQ can do. However, someone with the inability to concentrate, follow directions, and/or function socially in an appropriate way does have a chance of getting benefits. For more information, see our article on getting disability benefits with a borderline IQ.

Updated by: , J.D.

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