How to Get Disability Benefits for Intellectual Disability in Richmond, Virginia


A person with intellectual disability, which was called “mental retardation” in the past, may have problems with learning and completing the skills needed for day-to-day living due to below-average intelligence. Intellectual disability begins during childhood and persists throughout a person’s life.


Intellectual disability affects about one percent of the U.S. population. It is more common in boys than in girls.


Depending on the severity of the intellectual disability and other non-medical factors, a person may qualify for many types of Social Security disability benefits, such as SSDI benefits and Supplemental Security Income. This articles provides an overview of the mental disorder and how you or a loved one may receive Social Security benefits for intellectual disability.


If you have any questions after reading this article, or are looking for help with the Social Security disability application process, contact Richmond SSD attorney Corey Pollard for a free consultation. We’ll help you apply for SSD benefits, appeal a denied disability claim, and present your story to an administrative law judge at your Social Security disability hearing. All you have to do is call: 804-251-1620.


Diagnosing Intellectual Disability


People with intellectual disability may have difficulty with communication and expressing themselves. Others may have difficulty with comprehension – not just reading, writing, and math, but also in understanding what other people are saying. This can lead to frustration and lashing out toward others.


Intellectual disability is diagnosed when the following three criteria are met:


1. A person has deficits in intellectual functions, such as reasoning, problem solving, planning, abstract thinking, judgment, comprehension of complex ideas, academic learning, and learning from experience, which are confirmed by both clinical assessments and evaluations and individualized, standardized intelligence testing.


2. A person has deficits in adaptive functioning that result in failure to meet developmental and social standards for personal independence and social responsibility. Without ongoing support from others (parents, counselors, caregivers, a structured setting, etc.), the adaptive deficits limit functioning in at least one activity of daily life, such as communication, social participation, and independent living, across multiple enironments, such as school, home, work, and community.


3. The intellectual and adaptive deficits began during the person’s developmental period. For Social Security purposes, the developmental period is prior to age 22.


Risk Factors for Intellectual Disability


Anything that impacts a baby’s brain development before or after birth can cause intellectual disability. This includes:


  • Pregnancy and Birth complications: If a baby is deprived of oxygen or born premature then he or she may have an increased risk for intellectual disability.
  • Environment: If a mother consumes drugs, alcohol, or toxins during pregnancy then the child may have an increased risk for intellectual disability.
  • Genetics: Certain chromosomal disorders, such as Down syndrome, cause intellectual disability.
  • Illness or injury: Exposure to toxins or brain injury or infections may cause intellectual disability.


Intellectual Disability and Other Health Conditions


People with intellectual disability often have other mental illnesses, neurological development problems, and physical conditions. For example, adults and children with cerebral palsy are more likely to occur in persons with intellectual disability than in the general public. Other mental disorders that occur with intellectual disability include depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, ADHD, autism, and impulse-control disorders.


Filing for Social Security Disability Benefits with an Intellectual Disability


The Social Security Administration (SSA) evaluates claims for intellectual disabilities under Listing 12.05 . As you can see below, IQ testing plays an important role in determining whether you’ll receive Social Security for intellectual disability.


The SSA will approve your claim if:


  • You have a valid verbal, performance, or full scale IQ of 59 or less; OR


  • You have a valid verbal, performance, or full scale IQ of 60 through 70 and a physical or other mental impairment imposing an additional, significant work related limitation of function; or


  • You have a valid verbal, performance, or full scale IQ of 60 through 70, resulting in marked restriction of activities of daily living, marked difficulties in maintaining social functioning; marked difficulties in maintaining concentration or pace; or repeated episodes of decompensation lasting at least one week each; OR


  • You have a full scale IQ score of 70 or below OR a full scale IQ score of 71-75 accompanied by a verbal or performance IQ score of 70 or below; AND significant deficits in adaptive functioning as shown by problems with understanding, remembering, or applying information; interacting with others; concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace with tasks; or managing oneself independently.


Even if you don’t meet the SSA’s listing for intellectual disability, you can still receive SSD benefits if your condition or combination of medical impairments prevent you from maintaining full-time work.


As your disability lawyer, we would use all available evidence to prove that your intellectual disability prevents you from working. This includes school records, psychological evaluations, third-party statements from friends, family members, and neighbors, IQ testing, personality testing, office visit notes, failed work attempts, and oral testimony.


Getting Social Security for Intellectual Disability


A person who is unable to work or function independently because of an intellectual disability may be entitled to Social Security disability benefits. But proving your right to these benefits may be difficult. Most initial applications for disability benefits are denied and require at two appeals.


Corey Pollard helps adults and children in Richmond, Chesterfield, Henrico, Petersburg, Hanover, Fredericksburg, Williamsburg, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, and Virginia Beach obtain SSD benefits for intellectual disability. Call, text, or email us today to learn more about how to get Social Security disability and what we can do to help you or a loved one obtain financial security for your medical condition. We’re ready to help your family like we’ve helped thousands of other people in Virginia.