Can an Adult with ADHD Get Disability Benefits?

July 13, 2018 in
Social Security Disability | Government Shutdown | SSD Benefits | 2019 | LaBovick Law Group of Florida

Coping with adult ADHD? It’s more difficult than many people think.

Imagine: you struggle at work because you cannot concentrate, follow instructions, or complete tasks on time. You have difficulty at home because organizing is all but a foreign concept. You feel adrift in social situations because you have trouble remembering information. The symptoms of adult ADHD invade virtually every aspect of your life – but can you qualify for Social Security Disability benefits?

If your ADHD symptoms make it difficult or impossible to work, consult a Florida disability attorney immediately. You may be entitled to benefits.

How ADHD Affects Adults

Most of us associate ADHD with children – hyperactive children who can’t sit still and need to be on the go continually. This is only a narrow picture of this medical disorder. Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is much more complex, and, oftentimes, myths get in the way of understanding its impact on daily living.

Some people think ADHD is caused by a lack of proper discipline; others believe it is an excuse for “bad” behavior. In fact, it is none of these. It is a neurological condition that affects the area of the brain that handles “executive functions.”

These are the skills that allow us to handle important tasks, such as paying attention, shifting attention appropriately, remembering and recalling information, learning from mistakes, and regulating activity, impulses, effort, motivation, and social skills. ADHD is not a lack of effort or discipline; it is a brain-based condition.

In adults, ADHD can cause a wide range of challenges, including:free guide to the disabling conditions eligible for a social security disability

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Chronic tardiness
  • Chronic boredom
  • Forgetfulness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty controlling anger and/or frustration
  • Impulsiveness
  • Mood swings
  • Lack of organizational skills
  • Difficulty with relationships
  • Substance abuse/addiction
  • Low motivation and procrastination
  • Low self-esteem

The severity of the condition varies from individual to individual. Some people may experience mild symptoms that they can easily control with medications or simple tools, such as planners, charts, checklists, memory tools, apps, etc.

For others, coping with adult ADHD presents a much more significant struggle. They cannot work – not because they are “lazy” or “undisciplined” but because they have a diagnosable neurological condition.

ADHD Isn’t the Only Issue

Dealing with adult ADHD is difficult enough; this is a situation with which 4.4 percent of the US population struggles. Of these, 41.3 percent are considered to have “severe” symptoms. But along with adult ADHD, there comes a variety of complications: These individuals are:

  • 50 percent more likely to be involved in a serious car crash.
  • 3 times more likely to die by the age of 45.
  • More likely to suffer from anxiety disorders (50 percent of adults with ADHD deal with anxiety).

All of these commingling factors can make it difficult to engage in “gainful work activity” – to earn a living, to support yourself and/or your family. Will Social Security Disability provide that social safety net you need?

SSDI for Adults with ADHD

The reality is that adult ADHD can make it difficult to cope with day-to-day life, including work, family, and social obligations. The good news is that you can qualify for Social Security benefits. It is a challenge, and it can be a complex process – but you can prevail.

Until recently, ADHD as a disability was only recognized in children. The Social Security Administration (SSA) added new listing categories in 2016; these guide how the SSA evaluates mental health conditions. Included in these additions is section 12.11: Neurodevelopmental Disorders (Adult).

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder; to qualify for disability benefits, you must prove that you cannot participate in gainful work activity and you must provide the following evidence:Free SSD Case Evaluation | LaBovick Law Group& Diaz

  • One or both of the following:
    • Frequent distractibility, difficulty sustaining attention, and difficulty organizing tasks; OR
    • Hyperactive or impulsive behavior (e.g. hard time remaining seated, excessive talking, etc.).
  • Significant difficulties in learning or utilizing academic skills; OR:
  • Recurrent motor movement or vocalization


  • Extreme limitation of one, or marked limitation of two, in the following areas:
    • Understanding, remembering, or applying information.
    • Interacting with others
    • Concentrating, persisting or maintaining pace
    • Adapting or managing yourself

Straight Talk from an Experienced Florida Disability Attorney

When applying for Social Security Disability benefits for adult ADHD, you are facing an uphill battle. If you cannot prove that you meet the requirements mentioned above, you may have to undergo a mental residual capacity assessment. This will indicate the type of work you can do, such as skilled, semi-skilled, or unskilled work at varying levels. If the SSA determines you can work in any capacity, you may not qualify for benefits.

Working with an experienced Florida disability attorney can help move the process forward. They will help you gather the solid supporting evidence you need. This includes:

  • Medical/case records from your physician, psychiatrist, or psychologist showing an ADHD diagnosis. This should include supporting documentation.
  • Documentation of any and all treatments you have tried, as well as the outcomes for each.
  • Documentation from former employers attesting to your challenges in terms of concentration, hyperactivity, following instructions, impulsivity, etc.
  • Academic records that detail any evidence of ADHD-related symptoms, such as late/missing work, poor grades, etc.
  • A medical assessment from your therapist stating their opinion as to the severity of your condition and how it impacts your ability to function day-to-day.
  • Other evidence related to associated conditions, such as depression, substance abuse, anxiety, etc.
  • Evidence of other conditions that limit your ability to work.

All adults with ADHD had the condition as a child, whether or not it was diagnosed. If, however, your condition was recognized, introducing related evidence/documentation will significantly help your case now.

Your attorney will help you get all your ducks in a row, as it were, by gathering pertinent information from doctors, therapists, employers, schools, and other parties.

Also, remember that the majority of disability claims are denied initially; this is likely to happen when you apply for help when coping with adult ADHD. Your lawyer will explain this process and assist you in taking the next steps to ensure success even after a denial.

Living with ADHD is difficult; applying for Social Security Disability benefits only exacerbates the stress and anxiety. Know that the LaBovick Law Group is here to fight for your rights. If you cannot work due to your condition, we are tireless in ensuring you receive the proper compensation.