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Does SSA Qualify Low IQ as a Disability?

The Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS) is used to assess IQ and is divided into six categories, ranging from Very Superior (130+) to Extremely Low (69 and below). People with an IQ score of 75 or lower may qualify for disability under the Social Security Administration’s Listing 12.05 for intellectual disorder, while those with scores in the low average to borderline range could qualify under Listing 12.11 for neurodevelopmental disorders. Other standardized intelligence tests such as the Stanford-Binet can also be taken and considered by the SSA.

How Do I Get Approved for Benefits with Low IQ?

Social Security looks at results of valid IQ tests to determine whether an applicant has significantly subaverage general intellectual functioning. To meet the criteria under Listing 12.05, applicants must have a full-scale IQ of 70 or below, and also demonstrate evidence of “marked” limitations in two areas of mental functioning, or “extreme” limitations in one area. In addition to this, claimants must show that their disorder began before age 22.

For those with IQs between 71-85, they may still qualify for disability under Listing 12.11 if they can demonstrate marked or extreme limitations in certain areas combined with other evidence such as frequent distractibility, difficulty organizing/sustaining tasks, or significant difficulties learning and using academic skills. Lastly, any individuals who are unable to perform unskilled work due to their low IQ may also be eligible for benefits under the medical-vocational grid rules.