Ask the Experts

Is My ADHD Son Eligible for Government Disability Benefits?

My 17-year-old son 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?

If your 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.

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