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Can I Get Social Security Disability For Dyslexia?


Qualified applicants who suffer from a debilitating condition can obtain Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. Determining which conditions qualify as properly “disabling,” however, can be a tricky prospect. Some conditions are listed in Social Security Administration (SSA) guidelines, while others are not explicitly covered but may be the basis for SSDI benefits if they are sufficiently debilitating. Dyslexia, for example, can be a severe condition that affects many aspects of a person’s life, but is it a “disability” for SSDI purposes? To learn about how the SSA treats dyslexia for disability benefits, continue reading. Call a dedicated Social Security Disability benefits attorney for help obtaining Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or SSDI benefits or responding to a Social Security denial.

The SSA Blue Book Now Includes Learning Disabilities

The SSA’s “Blue Book” guidelines dictate which conditions and what levels of severity may qualify as a disability for the purposes of obtaining benefits. Historically, dyslexia and other learning disorders were not considered to be debilitating enough to count as a disability. However, in 2017 the SSA added a section specifically addressing learning disabilities, recognizing that they can have a profound impact on a person’s ability to work.

Dyslexia, Illiteracy, and Other Learning Disorders

Under the recently-added listing 12.11, “neurodevelopmental disorders” may qualify an applicant for disability benefits. Neurodevelopmental disorders cover conditions that arise during a person’s development (whether diagnosed during childhood or later in life) and concern underlying abnormalities in cognitive processing or deficits in other behavioral areas. The category covers learning disabilities such as dyslexia and dyscalculia, as well as tic disorders such as Tourette’s syndrome.

To obtain benefits for dyslexia, the applicant (whether child or adult) must first demonstrate that they have significant difficulties learning and using academic skills. Moderate to severe dyslexia may be sufficient to satisfy this requirement. The applicant’s difficulties must be shown through medical documentation.

Additionally, the applicant must show “extreme limitation” of one of the following, or “marked limitation” of two of the following areas of mental functioning:

  • Understanding, remembering, or applying information
  • Interacting with others
  • Concentrating, persisting or maintaining pace
  • Adapting or managing oneself

Dyslexia alone may qualify an applicant for benefits, but it will likely be a tough sell for Social Security. The applicant must be able to show more than that they are struggling with reading; they must be able to show that they have trouble learning and using academic skills generally, as well as marked or severe trouble with an additional area of mental functioning. Given that there are other ways to learn how to do many jobs without needing to read well, applicants relying on dyslexia alone face an uphill battle.

If the dyslexia is not severe enough to meet these listing criteria, the applicant would then need to show that their dyslexia prevents them from performing even unskilled work. The SSA would need proof that the dyslexic applicant cannot even perform jobs that require no reading or writing, as many unskilled jobs require little to no reading comprehension. Dyslexia alone is unlikely to meet this requirement. Unless the applicant also suffers in other areas beyond language, dyslexia by itself is difficult to rely on in applying for disability benefits.

Trusted Help With Your California Disability Benefits Claims

For help collecting disability benefits in southern California or statewide, call the compassionate and dedicated Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income (SSD/SSI) attorneys Drake & Drake at 818-624-4695.

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Drake & Drake, P.C., is located in Calabasas, CA and serves clients in and around Woodland Hills, Wilmington, Harbor City, Carson, Torrance, San Pedro, Long Beach, Compton, Gardena, Paramount, Lynwood, Bellflower, South Gate, Los Angeles, Hawaiian Gardens, Artesia, Huntington Park, Cerritos, Bell, Norwalk, Maywood, Santa Fe Springs, Pico Rivera, Whittier and Los Angeles County.

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