Is My ADHD Son Eligible for Government Disability Benefits?


My 17-year-old has ADHD and has trouble following or remembering instructions. I worry about his being able to hold down a job. Can you tell me if he is eligible for government disability?

ADDitude contributor Robert Tudisco is a practicing attorney with ADHD and an expert on special education law and disability advocacy.

If your ADD son has an IEP, it should include a “transition plan” to prepare him for college or for vocational training after high school. If the school hasn’t formulated a plan, ask for a meeting with your school’s Committee for Special Education, immediately, to find out why. In addition, I would suggest arranging for therapy and coaching for your son, which will enable him to take care of himself after he graduates from school.

If his ADHD symptoms are so severe that he can’t hold down a job, he may have a co-occurring condition or a learning disability. If so, he may qualify for governmental support under the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, which pays benefits to disabled adults and children who have limited income and resources. Refer to the “Listed Impairment” section on the Social Security website (, to determine whether his specific disabilities qualify him for services. These may include vocational training, support for psychiatric services, and coverage of medication.

If your son qualifies, you will need documentation of his attention deficit disorder diagnosis, as well as school records to establish the severity of his condition. While I can’t guarantee that services will be granted, having a paper trail to document your claim will prove helpful.

Since Robert Tudisco was diagnosed with ADHD, he has researched and written extensively on the subject of special education law and disability advocacy, and now specializes in the area as a practicing attorney. He is a former Executive Director of the Edge Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides specialized coaches for students with ADHD and Executive Functioning Impairment. He has served on the National Board of Directors of CHADD and is a former Vice President of ADDA. He is a frequent resource for the media, including CBS News, New York Times Magazine, Newsweek, ABC News, The BBC, The Today Show, CNN, USA Today, and The Seattle Times.
Copyright © 1998 - 2016 New Hope Media LLC. All rights reserved. Your use of this site is governed by our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.
ADDitude does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The material on this web site is provided for educational purposes only. See additional information.
New Hope Media, 108 West 39th Street, Suite 805, New York, NY 10018