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7135 The Autism Spectrum and the Mystery of Social Security Disability: What You Need to Know [CRC Session]

Thursday, July 24, 2014: 1:00 PM-2:15 PM
203 (Indiana Convention Center)
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The goal for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is gainful and fulfilling employment-what if that is not possible? Presented by an attorney and father of a child with ASD, the presentation will offer a practical examination of the application/appeal process for obtaining Social Security Disability Benefits. Introduction

It is the goal for children and adults diagnosed on the Autistic Spectrum to live a full and rewarding life – including gainful and fulfilling employment.  What if that is not possible?  This presentation will examine the two main programs for Social Security Disability Benefits for children and adults.  The presentation will provide useful information to assist attendees in making an informed decision concerning an application for themselves, a child or other family member.  Services/Medical providers will come away with a working knowledge of the various benefit programs so that they can better identify individuals who may be eligible for benefits. Services/Medical providers will be able to implement this information to improve their existing services and to provide additional support to individuals who may be in need of disability benefits.  We will examine the following topics:

(1)   The Application Process

The application process can be overwhelming and intimidating –often leading individuals or their families to give up.  Attendees will learn how to better manage the process from filing the application on-line, via telephone or at a local Social Security Administration Office.  Emphasis will be placed reviewing the forms that will be completed and the supporting documents to gather to increase the chance of success. 

(2)   The Appeal Process

Fact:  the majority of initial applications are denied.  We will review an example of a denial letter and what to look for in the letter.  Emphasis will be placed on understanding the time restrictions to file an appeal, how to file the appeal, the anticipated wait for an appeal hearing and how to prepare for the hearing.

(3)   The Appeal Hearing

The stress of the application process coupled with the disappointment of receiving the denial letter is enough to convince applicants to abandon the process.  Using a combination of written materials and visual aids, we will “take away the mystery” and study an appeal hearing.  Emphasis will be placed on discussing the individuals involved in the hearing: the Administrative Law Judge, the Vocational Expert, the Medical Expert, witnesses and the applicant.  We will review and discuss Social Security Adult Listing of Impairments - 12.10 Autistic disorder and other pervasive developmental disorders, and the corresponding childhood listing.  Through the use of written materials, visual aids and audience discussion, this portion of the presentation will provide working information to the attendees – including an explanation of specific portions of the Adult Listing, including:


  • What are “marked restrictions” in activities of daily living?
  • What are “marked difficulties” in maintaining social functioning?
  • What are “marked difficulties” in maintaining concentration, persistence or pace?
  • What are “ repeated episodes of decompensation”?

 We will examine the medical and non-medical evidence that is necessary to “meet” or “equal the listing and how to obtain the assistance of medical professionals and other service providers.

(4)   Question and Answer Session

The session will conclude with a question and answer session.

Learning Objectives:

  • Identify available Social Security Disability Benefits and understand the application/appeal process- including how to identify the vital information necessary to improve the chance of success.
  • Prepare for an appeal hearing by identifying and recognizing the roles of the hearing participants -including the Administrative Law Judge, the Vocational Expert and the Medical Expert.
  • Identify and discuss Social Security Adult Listing of Impairments 12.10–Autism Spectrum Disorder and Other Pervasive Developmental Disorders and the Corresponding Childhood Listing.

Content Area: Transition Planning and Options for Adulthood


Andrew Norfleet, J.D.
Norfleet and Lafferty, LLC

Mr. Norfleet is a graduate of the Pennsylvania State University and the Widener University School of Law. He represents children and adults applying for Social Security Disability Benefits. As a father of a child on the autistic spectrum, Mr. Norfleet has a special interest in Autism Spectrum Disorders.