Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), also called hyperkinetic disorder, is a psychiatric disorder and chronic condition defined by developmentally inappropriate degrees of inattention, impulsiveness, and hyperactivity.
B. General information
ADHD affects millions of children and often persists into adulthood. Despite being the most commonly studied and diagnosed psychiatric disorder in children and adolescents, the cause in the majority of cases is unknown. It affects about 6-7% of children in the United States when diagnosed via the DSM-IV criteria and 1-2% when diagnosed via the ICD-10 criteria. Percentages are similar in other countries. ADHD is diagnosed approximately three times more often in boys than girls. About 30-50% of people diagnosed in childhood continue to have symptoms in adulthood. Academic difficulties and problems with interpersonal relationships are frequent with those suffering from the disorder.
ADHD, its diagnosis, and treatments have been controversial since the 1970’s. The controversies have involved clinicians, teachers, policymakers, parents, and the media. Topics of discussion include causes of the disorder and the use of stimulant medications in its treatment. Symptoms of ADHD can be hard to define because it is difficult to differentiate between normal levels of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, and levels significant enough to require intervention.
ADHD can be divided into three subtypes: inattentive type, hyperactive-impulsive type, and combined type. To be diagnosed with ADHD, symptoms must be observed in multiple settings for six months or more and be experienced at a much greater degree than for others of the same age. Symptoms also must cause problems in the person’s social, academic, and/or work life.
Most healthcare providers accept ADHD as a genuine disorder, and the debate in the scientific community mainly centers on how it is diagnosed and treated.
C. Social Security Administration Medical Listing 112.11 – ADHD
The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes ADHD as a genuine disorder, as well as one that can be disabling. It is listed in Part B of the SSA’s List of Impairments. A doctor’s diagnosis of ADHD alone, however, does not constitute a disability. To qualify for disability benefits under the Social Security Administration, you also must show medical documentation of all three of the following:
- Marked inattention,
- Marked impulsiveness, and
- Marked hyperactivity.
Children age 3 to age 18 also must show at least two of the following:
- Marked impairment in age-appropriate cognitive/communicative function, documented by medical findings and information from parents or other individuals who know the child, as well as results of psychological testing, or for children under age 6, appropriate tests of language and communication; or
- Marked impairment in age-appropriate social functioning, documented by history, medical findings, and other information from parents or other individuals who know the child, and, if necessary, results of appropriate standardized tests; or
- Marked impairment in age-appropriate personal functioning, documented by history, medical findings, and information from parents or other individuals who know the child, and including, if necessary, appropriate standardized tests; or
- Marked difficulties in maintaining concentration, persistence, or pace.
Slightly different criteria apply to children under the age of 3. Your representative can help you determine whether your child’s ADHD is severe enough to qualify for disability benefits under the guidelines of the Social Security Administration.