Your intelligence quotient (IQ) is a score intended to measure your intelligence and mental ability in comparison to others. Some people have low IQs that qualify as an intellectual disability, and in many cases, such individuals are able to find full-time work that they can perform. However, if this type of intellectual disability prohibits someone from holding down full-time employment, they might qualify for Social Security disability benefits.
Eligibility Based on Low IQ
The SSA has listings of qualified disabilities, and a person with a low IQ can qualify as disabled if they meet the listing criteria. First, the intellectual disability must have been obvious prior to age 22, and the individual must have a full scale IQ of 70 or lower. Someone might also qualify with a full scale score of 71 to 75 if their performance or verbal score was 70 or lower.
In addition to the IQ score, the individual must also experience functional limitations with one or more of the following:
- Comprehension and remembering information
- Social interaction and appropriate behaviors
- Self-management skills
- Concentration and the ability to complete tasks
If a person’s functioning is low enough that they cannot complete an IQ test to get a proper score, they can be eligible for disability benefits if they demonstrate that they rely on others (such as parents) for everyday personal care.
Loss of Intellectual Functioning Later in Life
Not everyone with a low IQ had intellectual disabilities prior to age 22, as some of these impairments occur due to a condition or injury developed later in life. Some causes of intellectual disabilities might include:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Multiple sclerosis
- Early-onset dementia or Alzheimer’s disease
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
- Early-onset Parkinson’s disease
These individuals would not be evaluated by the SSA under the intellectual disability listing, but instead under the neurocognitive disorders listing.
What Evidence Do You Need to Prove a Disability Due to Low IQ?
Like any disability applicant, you need to provide sufficient evidence of your disability to qualify for benefits. Evidence needed in cases involving low IQ might include:
- Results of psychological testing
- IQ test scores
- Detailed reports from medical professionals regarding mental and physical limitations
- Types of jobs that have been attempted in the past
- Reports from caregivers regarding how much care the applicant requires
- Reports from special education programs or individual educational programs (IEPs)
If the individual also has physical limitations combined with their low IQ, they will need to present records and reports to demonstrate those limitations, as well.
Keep in mind that the SSA has standards for IQ testing, including the type of test and the administrator of the test. In some cases, the SSA requests an applicant to undergo testing of its own choosing before issuing benefits.
Speak with a California Disability Attorney
If you or someone you love cannot work due to low IQ and related intellectual disabilities, you should not hesitate to seek help from a California disability lawyer. The right representation can help the claim process go smoothly and increase your chances of receiving benefits.