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Intellectual disability eligible for benefits

People in Newark with an intellectual disability comprise over 14 percent of the working age recipients of Social Security disability benefits or Supplemental Security Income for a disability, according to recently-issued statistics from the Social Security Administration. Although recipients generally receive these Social Security disability benefits for a longer time, meeting eligibility requirements is becoming more difficult.

Intellectual disability, as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, is a disorder that begins in childhood resulting in intellectual and adaptive functioning deficits. An intellectual functioning deficit occurs when a person scores at least two standard deviations below the population average or has an IQ no greater than 70.

This disability causes limitations with a person's communication, social skills, independence and work or academic performance. Because this condition begins at childhood or adolescence, this disability is different from other similar neurocognitive diseases.

Less than 5 percent of the working age population has this disability while it comprises 14 percent of SSI recipients who receive benefits based upon their disability and income. This difference illustrates that many beneficiaries receive these benefits because of their economic circumstances instead of their disability.

Benefits for these beneficiaries generally begin by age 22. Reports also show that a large number of these recipients want to work and take advantage of support services to try to find work. However, they were usually employed in sheltered or supported employment that average 20 hours per week at only $4.54 per hour.

Beneficiaries with intellectual disabilities were three times more likely to work in these generally low wage jobs than other recipients with disabilities. Federal wage laws allow employers to pay workers with certain disabilities below the minimum wage under certain conditions.

It may be apparent that individuals with intellectual disabilities cannot keep a substantial job because of their medical, psychological and academic records and their low IQ. However, eligibility is becoming more difficult to prove. An attorney can assist these claimants and their families filing for disability benefits to comply with federal requirements and improve their economic circumstances.

Source: The Jackson Sun, "Who's receiving disability?" Beth Bates, May 26, 2017

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