Getting SSI for Antisocial Personality Disorder in a Child or Teenager

It's uncommon but not impossible to get Social Security disability benefits for a conduct disorder or personality disorder like antisocial personality disorder.

It's not common for a child or teenager to get SSI disability benefits for antisocial personality disorder or a similar condition, but it is possible. Antisocial personality disorder is a mental condition in which a person is unable to relate to other people and interact in society. Common traits include being indifferent to the feelings of others, using deceptive tactics to achieve personal goals, and engaging in risky activities. Children and even teenagers are not usually given the diagnosis of an antisocial disorder until after they have reached the age of 18. However, children and teenagers under 18 can be diagnosed with the similar conditions of conduct disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, or borderline personality disorder.

Obtaining SSI Benefits

To be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA), your child must have been diagnosed with a personality disorder that has lasted for at least one year. The disorder must cause significant limitations in the child’s functioning. The SSA will consider how your child acts at home, in school, and in the public in comparison to children of the same age who do not have any medical condition.

There are two ways in which your child may be eligible for SSI benefits with antisocial personality disorder. First, your child may meet or equal the criteria in the Listing of Impairments (also known as the “Blue Book”) for a personality disorder. Second, your child may "functionally equal" the listings when the SSA considers six domains of functioning.

Meeting the Listing of Impairments

The SSA created a Listing of Impairments specifically for children under age 18. In the mental illness listings, Listing 112.08, Personality Disorders, contains criteria that your child would have to meet in order to be eligible for disability benefits under the listings.

To meet this listing, your child's pediatrician, licensed psychologist, or psychiatrist must have diagnosed the child with a personality disorder and your child’s medical records must show your child has certain long-lasting personality traits that indicate difficulty coping with the outside world. The listing, which was updated significantly in 2017, requires that you meet both of the following sets of requirements.

Required symptoms. Your child must exhibit one or more of the following symptoms:

  • detachment from social relationships
  • inappropriate suspiciousness or distrust of others
  • unstable personal relationships
  • disregard for and violation of the rights of others
  • excessive emotionality and attention seeking behavior
  • feelings of inadequacy
  • excessive need to be taken care of
  • preoccupation with perfectionism and orderliness, or
  • recurrent, impulsive, and aggressive behavioral outbursts.

Affect on development. Your child's antisocial personality disorder must cause severe limitations in functioning; either an extreme limitation in one of the following areas or a “marked” (severe) limitation in two of the following areas:

  • interacting with others (cooperating with others, maintaining friendships, handling conflicts with others, responding to criticism appropriately)
  • adapting or managing oneself (adapting to changes, controlling one’s behavior, protecting oneself from harm)
  • concentrating on tasks (completing tasks in a timely manner, ignoring or avoiding distractions while working, changing activities or work settings without being disruptive, working close to or with others without interrupting or distracting them), or
  • learning, understanding and remembering information (learning new material, following oral instructions, using reason and judgment to make decisions).

Assessing Your Child’s Functional Limitations

When your child’s antisocial traits do not meet or equal the disability listing for personality disorders, the SSA will move to the step of determining all of your child’s functional limitations. The SSA will look at whether the child is limited in all environments, or only in certain places such as home.

To be given disability benefits, the child must show medical proof of marked restrictions in two areas of functioning or an extreme limitation in one area of functioning. These areas of functioning include the following:

  • ability of a child to obtain and use information
  • ability of a child to focus on and finish tasks
  • ability of a child to relate well with others (for example, cannot form friendships with others)
  • ability of a child to physically move their body around and handle objects
  • ability of a child to perform his or her own personal care (for example, looking out for cars and being cautious before stepping out on a crosswalk), and
  • whether the child is in good health and his or her physical state of being.

For example, let's look at the hypothetical case of Tim, a 16-year-old boy who has antisocial personality disorder. Tim engages in risky behavior such as trying to steal cars and vandalizing school property. Furthermore, Tim has displays of anger and is suspicious of others. He has difficulty making close friends, and regularly engages in fights with other students at school. Tim has been expelled from one school for fighting. As such, Tim likely has an extreme limitation in the domain of relating well with others. Tim’s psychologist has given him medication for his condition. However, this medication causes Tim some daytime sleepiness and affects Tim’s ability to focus on his schoolwork during the day. Thus, Tim could also have a moderate limitation (less than marked) in the second domain of focusing on and finishing tasks. Tim could be found disabled if the medical evidence supports that Tim acts out in these ways as a result of his personality disorder, and that he still will have these limitations despite the use of medications and psychological counseling.

Getting Help

As it can be very difficult to get disability benefits for a child because of antisocial personality disorder, conduct disorder, or oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), you would be wise to consult with a lawyer about applying for disability benefits. Disability lawyers are paid for out of the back payments that the SSA will pay if your child is granted benefits. To find a disability lawyer in your area, you can set up a free consultation with disability lawyer through our website.

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