Is ADHD a Disability? Categorization by the Americans with Disabilities Act

Is ADHD a Disability – Overview

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can qualify as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) if it substantially limits one or more major life activities. It is a common neurodevelopmental disorder that affects children and can continue into adulthood. It is a chronic neuropsychiatric condition that develops problems with focusing, impulsivity, or hyperactivity.

In addition, it may often develop behavioral issues related to impulsivity and hyperactivity. The symptoms of ADHD may be mild or even undiagnosed in some, while they may be effectively debilitating for others.

ADHD is classified into 3 sub-types – mostly inattentive, impulsive or hyperactive and a combination of inattentiveness and hyperactivity/impulsivity.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of ADHD

Is ADHD a Disability

Is ADHD a Disability – What Are the Signs and Symptoms of ADHD?

ADHD can have mild, moderate or severe effects. Depending on the patient’s symptoms, ADHD can make it difficult for the individual to hold a job, especially if it requires a routine or focus on studies at school, along with affecting personal relationships.

People who have ADHD usually have difficulty with the following activities:

  • Staying still
  • Concentrating
  • Staying organized
  • Paying attention
  • Remembering details
  • Following instructions
  • Controlling impulses

How to Seek Treatment for ADHD?

If you or your child has ADHD with significant impairments, you may be eligible for certain federal support programs, not specifically “medical aid. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) may be available for children under 18 with severe disabilities, including ADHD if they meet certain criteria.

Children and parents must meet certain strict income criteria to qualify for SSI benefits. The condition must also be severe enough to affect the person extremely for at least 12 months. If your child’s ADHD affects your ability to function normally, you may also qualify for these benefits.

If an adult is suffering from severe ADHD symptoms, then they may be able to receive Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. If the disorder prevents an adult from keeping a job or working in any capacity, they may also be eligible for federal benefits.

However, before applying for these federal benefits, the patient must gather all documentation (medical and others) that may prove their impairment and its severity. Usually, disability payments are disbursed on a case-by-case basis. Several factors are considered, such as:

  • Age
  • Work history
  • Education
  • Medical history
  • Other factors

Adults applying for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits due to ADHD must demonstrate that their condition significantly limits their ability to work, regardless of whether they received treatment as a child.

Eligibility for SSD benefits requires documentation showing significant impairment in functioning due to ADHD beyond just a diagnosis. You will need to provide verifiable medical documentation that you have the following conditions:

  • Noticeable hyperactivity
  • Significant impulsiveness
  • Marked inattention

Besides this, you will also need to prove your impairment in certain areas of social, cognitive or personal functions, which may require you to include:

  • Notes from a therapist
  • Psychological evaluation
  • Medical documents

If you have any more queries regarding eligibility criteria and the application process for SSD benefits for ADHD treatment, you can visit the official website of the Social Security Administration at

Behavioral Therapy and ADHD

The primary goal of behavioral therapy is to eliminate unwanted behavior and strengthen positive behavior. It is always more helpful if the therapist and the parents work together to help the child.

Children Younger Than Six Years

  • Young children may have more side effects from ADHD medication. Behavioral therapy is always the first step before starting medication for young children with ADHD.
  • Parents can develop the skills to make new strategies to help the child with behavior management training.
  • Behavioral management training for parents can be an effective part of a comprehensive treatment plan for ADHD, alongside medication for some children.

Adolescents and School-Going Children

  • For school-going children, it is advisable to combine medication with behavioral therapy.
  • Behavioral management training for the parents is equally important for these children as well.
  • Behavioral interventions in the classroom setting can make their journey in school easier.
  • Peer interventions focusing on behavior can help them make friends and improve their social skills.
  • Organizational skill training is another important part of behavioral therapy.

Medications and ADHD

Medications can help children with ADHD deal with their everyday life situations and control their behavior. Different types of FDA-approved medicines are used in the treatment of ADHD.

  • Stimulants are the most widely used medication for ADHD. Children under this medication often have fewer ADHD symptoms.
  • In 2003, non-stimulant medications were approved for ADHD treatment. Their effectiveness varies and can be comparable to stimulants for some individuals.

These medications may have side effects like appetite loss or inability to sleep. Some children respond very well to the medications, but some do not.


In conclusion, ADHD may be considered a disability under the ADA if it significantly restricts one or more major life activities, with support and accommodations available for those who qualify. Patients with ADHD tend to suffer from inattentiveness, lack of focus and disorganization in general. The federal US government provides assistance and aid with treatment for ADHD to qualifying individuals, which include adults and children.

However, it is strongly recommended to consult your psychiatrist or physician for more details about ADHD, its symptoms, treatments and therapies.

See Also

Is ADHD Genetic

What is Pediatric Neurology

What is Neuro-Ophthalmology

List of Neurological Symptoms

How to Become a Neurologist

Medicare Mental Health Coverage

Does Medicaid Cover Therapy

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