Is ADHD a Disability? What You Need to Know Before You Apply For Benefits

Is ADHD a Disability

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Do you suffer from ADHD symptoms and wonder, “Is ADHD a Disability?”

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a common neuro-developmental disorder characterized by an inability to focus, impulsivity, and hyperactivity – all of which can interfere with daily life. Although it has been around for centuries, there is still much confusion about whether or not ADHD is classified as a disability.

With around 8 million adults affected by ADHD in the US alone, each person is affected by ADHD symptoms in different degrees. Many of those who have ADHD do not receive the benefits and accommodations they deeply need. 

This article will explore the critical question, “Is ADHD a Disability?” Who is eligible, the different types of available payments, the application process, and if you should get a disability attorney. 

Common ADHD Symptoms

ADHD is a complex disorder characterized by difficulty sustaining attention, controlling impulsive behaviors, and being overactive in behavior or thought. ADHD impacts different people differently; some adults and children may only suffer from one symptom, while others may have multiple symptoms that affect their daily functioning.

Common symptoms of ADHD include:

  • Difficulty concentrating and focusing
  • Impulsivity or difficulty controlling impulses
  • Hyperactivity or an inability to stay still
  • Restlessness and fidgeting even when seated
  • Easily distracted by external stimuli
  • Difficulty organizing tasks and activities
  • Forgetfulness and trouble following through with instructions.

These symptoms can significantly impact a person’s life, leading to problems in school, work, and relationships. For adults with ADHD, the symptoms can be even more challenging to manage as they may have been dealing with them for many years without recognition or support.

These severe symptoms can affect one’s ability to work, but are they enough to qualify for disability? Next, let’s discuss the five key things to know about ADHD and disability insurance before you apply.

1. Is ADHD a Disability?

Yes, ADHD is considered a disability, but not everyone with ADHD qualifies for disability benefits. More on that shortly.

Many organizations, such as the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and the Social Security Administration (SSA), consider ADHD a disability. The SSA has established criteria to determine if an individual’s symptoms are significant enough to qualify for benefits or accommodations related to the disorder.

The criteria for diagnosis are based on the symptoms of chronic inattention and impulsivity (or restlessness) that interfere with daily functioning, academic or occupational performance, and social relationships. A professional psychiatric assessment will determine if these symptoms are severe enough to qualify as a disability.

In children, ADHD can manifest itself differently than in adults, and parents need to be aware of the signs of the disorder to diagnose and treat it appropriately. Common symptoms in children include difficulty focusing, restlessness,impulsivity, and sometimes aggression.

In adults, ADHD manifests as difficulty concentrating or completing tasks, forgetfulness, poor organization skills, disorganization, and procrastination. It can also lead to mood swings, low self-esteem, and relationship problems.

2. Who Is Eligible?

It can be challenging to understand eligibility and what can qualify you for benefits you may deeply need.

To qualify for SSDI, the following six requirements usually have to be true:

  1. You are under 66 years of age
  2. You have received a diagnosis and are currently being treated for a severe medical condition
  3. Due to your condition, you are unable to hold full-time employment
  4. You are either working part-time or not currently working
  5. You do not expect to recover from your condition, or it may result in death
  6. You worked and paid taxes for years before your condition’s diagnosis

In case you do not have a work history, there is the option to apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSI payments tend to be much lower than SSDI payments, but they are available for those who qualify and need it.

Other Ways To Qualify:

The Social Security Administration has 2 programs in place to speed up the process of new disability claims:

  • Compassionate Allowances: Certain cases that usually qualify for disability can be allowed as soon as the diagnosis is confirmed. Some of these conditions include acute leukemia, Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), and pancreatic cancer.
  • Quick Disability Determinations: The SAA uses computer screening to identify cases with a high probability of social security allowance.

3. Social Security Disability After an ADHD Diagnosis

If you have been diagnosed with ADHD, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. While a diagnosis is not enough to qualify for benefits, the requirements to file and be granted SSDI are strict.

To begin filing for disability, applicants must provide medical evidence from their treating physician demonstrating that they suffer from severe impairment due to their condition. This evidence must include detailed diagnosis records, treatment plans, medications, and other medical information.

To read about all the materials needed or start your online application, visit Note: You can apply in person at your local Social Security office or via their toll-free 1-800-772-1213. If you are hard of hearing or deaf, call them at TTY 1-800-325-0778.

Additionally, the applicant will need to provide information and notes from:

  • A psychiatrist or psychologist
  • A primary care physician

The disability examiner will also evaluate the effects of the disorder on an individual’s daily life by looking at factors such as employment history, educational achievements, and social functioning.

If an applicant is found to have severe impairments that prevent them from sustaining employment, they may be eligible for SSDI benefits. To increase your chances of approval when filing for disability due to ADHD, consulting with an attorney specializing in Social Security Disability law can be a huge benefit. A lawyer will help ensure that the application is complete and correct and that all necessary evidence is included in your case.

4. What Can I Expect With Disability Payments?

According to, the following are disability payment amounts for 2023. Your income at previous jobs that contributed to taxes determines the amount you may be eligible for. Important to note is that maximum Social Security Income payment amounts increase with the cost-of-living increases that apply to Social Security benefits.

Disability Benefit Calculations

Recipient                     Unrounded Annual Amounts for 2023           Monthly Amounts for 2023

Eligible Individual                                $10,092.40                                                         $10,970.44

Eligible Couple                                     $15,136.93                                                           $16,453.84

Essential Person                                  $ 5,057.77                                                           $ 5,497.80

Find out the average Social Security Disability benefits by state here.

5. Do I Need a Disability Attorney?

A disability attorney works with your doctors and mental health professionals to gather and present the appropriate documentation to prove your disability severely limits your ability to work in front of the Disability Determination Services.

According to, only 38% of applicants who meet the technical requirements are accepted initially. For those who appeal their denial decision, 50% of applicants are ultimately approved. Also, you only have 60 days to appeal after your initial denial letter.

These statistics show it can be challenging to prove your disability alone fully. Seeking a disability lawyer can significantly improve your chances of disability insurance approval.

You may be asking, “How can I afford a lawyer?” Often, many attorney’s offices offer free consultations and can help you answer questions about how to apply for free. There is an agreement that happens after the lawyer submits documentation for approval. If your claim is approved, your lawyer will collect 25% of your first check, including all accumulated back pay.

Back pay is the amount of money that has accumulated over the entire application and claim process. If you are approved for benefits, SSDI will pay you for all of that time, and your lawyer will calculate their payment from your first check. The maximum they can collect is $7,200, but most do not.

Rest assured that options are available to get the assistance you need to file your claim and have the best chance for SSDI approval.


To summarize, yes, ADHD is considered a disability. Still, talking to your mental health professionals and doctors is essential to determine if your symptoms and condition are severe enough to qualify for benefits.

Even after diagnosis, applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) can be complicated. Speaking to a qualified disability attorney can help you gain the proper documentation to give you the best chance of being approved the first time applying.

It is common for first-time applicants to be denied benefits, but if that happens, be sure to appeal. The success rate during the appeal process is very good, but remember to appeal within 60 days of your benefits denial.

Connecting with a mental health professional can help you with an official ADHD diagnosis and symptom management. If you need help learning your unique ADHD painpoints and strategies to overcome them, we are here to help! Call us at (833)-274-heal or get started here to make an appointment with a counselor who can help you improve your quality of life and navigate your unique challenges with ADHD.

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Picture of Sara Makin MSEd, LPC, NCC

Sara Makin MSEd, LPC, NCC

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