Social Security and Learning Disabilities

Classroom tablesWhat is a learning disability?

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) published by the American Psychiatric Association defines a learning disability—or in their terms, “specific learning disorder” as follows:

  • Persistent difficulties in reading, writing, arithmetic, or mathematical reasoning skills during formal years of schooling
  • Inaccurate or slow and effortful reading
  • Poor written expression that lacks clarity
  • Difficulties remembering number facts
  • Inaccurate mathematical reasoning

Jason Kane’s article on PBS titled “Five Misconceptions About Learning Disabilities” dispels a few myths about learning disabilities. Learning disabilities, he explains, is an umbrella term that creates actual obstacles for the people who have it, and people with learning disabilities do not have a low IQ or lack of motivation. They do not have Autism or ADHD. Intellectual disabilities are not under the learning disability spectrum. Kane’s articles stresses the fact that often those with learning disabilities are perceived as being lazy, but this could not be further from the truth.

How do you diagnose a learning disability?

Learning disabilities are not easy to diagnose. In fact, many learning disabilities go unnoticed for long periods of time. There is no test or scan at this current time in the United States that can quickly identify a learning disability. While experts understand that learning disabilities stem from neurological issues, they still do not have a clear picture of where the neurological deficits stem from or what regions of the brain characterizes the difficulties those with learning disabilities struggle with.

In addition to having the symptoms mentioned above, there are a few other things that must be present in order to correctly diagnose a learning disability. Examples include:

  • Current academic skills must be well below the average range of scores in culturally and linguistically appropriate tests of reading, writing, or mathematics.
  • The individual’s difficulties must not be better explained by developmental, neurological, sensory (vision or hearing), or motor disorders.
  • The disorder must significantly interfere with academic achievement, occupational performance, or activities of daily living.

What types of specific learning disabilities are there?

Listed below are a few types of learning disabilities:

  • Dyslexia
    • Term associated with specific learning disabilities in reading.
  • Dyscalculia
    • Learning disabilities in math.
  • Auditory Processing Deficit
    • Weakness in the ability to understand and use auditory information.
  • Dysgraphia
    • Specific learning disabilities in writing. This includes both the physical act and/or what is actually written.
  • Visual Processing Deficit
    • Weakness in ability to understand and use visual information.

Do I qualify for SSDI with learning disability?

The short answer to this question: it depends on how severe your impairment is. Because learning disabilities are hard to diagnose, it can be difficult to receive SSDI benefits for them. The Social Security Administration does not recognize learning disabilities specifically. However, that does not mean you will not receive benefits. If you can prove that you or your child is significantly impaired by your learning disability with documentation from doctors, and specifically, a psychologist, you may be able to receive benefits. Summit View Disability Law Group is here to help you.  Schedule a free consultation today.

Photo courtesy of Frank Juarez via Creative Commons