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Keefe Disability Law
Social Security Disability & Supplemental Security Income
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The Nine Categories of Mental Disorders Under Which a Child Can Qualify for Social Security Disability

The Social Security Administration lists the following categories of mental impairments for children:

  1. Organic Mental Disorders. This broad category covers a wide range of mental disorders. These disorders cause abnormalities in perception, cognition, affect or behavior; all of which can be directly linked back to a mental disorder.
  2. Schizophrenic, Delusional (Paranoid), Schizoaffective and Other Psychotic Disorders. For a child to qualify for this type of disability they must have an onset of one of more of these psychotic features: delusions or hallucinations, catatonic or  bizarre behavior, incoherence, loosening of associations, illogical thinking or poor speech, flat, blunt or inappropriate affect, emotional withdrawal, apathy or isolation.
  3. Mood Disorders. This disorder doesn’t refer to a changing mood but instead a prolonged disturbance in mood that affects the child’s entire psychic life. Usually this involves either depression or elation. These disturbances in mood are accompanied by a full or partial manic or depressive syndrome.
  4. Intellectual Disability. With this disability the child demonstrates sub average general intellectual functioning including deficits in adaptive functioning.
  5. Anxiety Disorders. Here, anxiety is either the prominent disturbance or the child becomes very anxious when they try to master symptoms. Examples of these attempts include: confronting the object or situation in a phobic disorder, trying to go to school with a separation anxiety disorder, or resisting obsessions or compulsions in an obsessive compulsive disorder.
  6. Somatoform, Eating and Tic Disorders. These disorders present physical symptoms for which there cannot be found an organic or physiologic mechanism.
  7. Personality Disorders. For a personality disorder to qualify the child’s symptoms will include pervasive, inflexible and maladaptive personality traits. These are typical in the child; not occurring just when the child is ill.
  8. Autistic Disorder or Other Pervasive Development Disorders. These disorders are characterized by measurable deficits in shared social interaction, in the development of verbal and nonverbal communication skills and in imaginative activity. Also, children with these disorders often focus in on a limited number of activities and interests.
  9. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Children with this disorder show inappropriate lack of inattention and are impulsive and hyperactive.

Of course each of these disorders in children can range from moderate to severe; controllable with treatment and uncontrollable with treatment. The SSA only grants disability for mental disorders in children that are well-documented and affect the child in what they consider a profound way.

Not Sure If Your Child Qualifies?

Our condensed version of the SSA’s bluebook on childhood disabilities just skims the surface of what the SSA considerers a disability worthy of a disability rating. If you’ve read the entire bluebook, I’m willing to bet you’re more confused than ever. Figuring out what documentation the SSA needs and if your child qualifies is a long, difficult process. And this is on top of your day-to-day life; on top of caring for your child and the rest of your family.

Please don’t let the confusing world of Social Security disability discourage you. Our attorneys can help you determine if your child has a chance of receiving benefits and can navigate the entire application and/or appeal process. Please call 508-283-5500 today to speak with an experienced Massachusetts disability attorney.


John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney of Keefe Disability Law

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