A communication disorder that severely affects your ability to communicate with co-workers, superiors, or the general public can significantly limit your ability to work. It may even prevent you from holding a job entirely. If you have a communication impairment that prevents you from working and earning a gainful living in Arizona, you may be able to qualify for disability benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA).

The SSA has two disability programs:

  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) – to qualify for this program, you must either be an eligible disabled worker or a dependent of an eligible disabled, deceased, or retired worker. Sufficient work credits are required to qualify. These credits are accumulated over the course of your employment, through the payment of Social Security (FICA) taxes.
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) – this is a “need-based” program that pays benefits to qualified disabled persons of all ages, even if they have never paid any Social Security taxes. Although there are no work history or tax payment requirements for SSI, you must have limited household income and other financial resources. Even with these strict financial rules, many people, young and old, meet eligibility standards.

Communication disorders are often associated with another mental or physical condition and most people that qualify for benefits for a communication disorder actually receive benefits because they have one of the following impairments:

  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Hearing loss, with or without a cochlear implant
  • A congenital or genetic disorder, like Down syndrome
  • A seizure disorder or another neurological disorder that causes motor dysfunction
  • A developmental, anxiety, or personality disorder, like mental retardation, schizophrenia, autism, or ADHD, among others

The SSA maintains a listing of medical conditions in its Blue Book, including the medical criteria necessary to qualify with each condition. It contains listings for both children and adults.

If you apply for disability benefits for a child, it’s important to understand that some kids receive SSDI benefits as a dependent of an insured parent, grandparent, or guardian. However, most children that receive benefits get SSI instead of or in addition to SSDI.

  • To submit an SSI application for yourself or for a child, you must apply via a personal interview with an SSA representative. Schedule an appointment with your local SSA office by calling 1-800-772-1213.
  • SSDI applications can be submitted online via the SSA’s website or you can apply in person at any SSA office.

Here are just a few of the larger SSA branches in Arizona:

  • Flagstaff – 1585 S. Plaza Way, Flagstaff, AZ 86001
  • Mesa – 702 W. Jerome Ave., Mesa, AZ 85210
  • Phoenix – 250 N. Seventh Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85007
  • Tucson – 88 W 38th St., Ste 100, Tucson, AZ 85713
  • Yuma – 1235 S. Redondo Center Dr., Yuma, AZ 85365