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Is Dyslexia a Disability?

Yes, Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neuro-biological in nature. The disorder is characterized by difficulty with accurate word recognition accompanied by poor spelling and other reading challenges. Dyslexia is considered a reading disability according to the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). 

According to the Equality Act 2010, dyslexia is a disorder because it persists for a lifetime and adversely affects an individual’s ability to spell, read, and write. This act is popularly known as the Dyslexia Disability Act.

Dyslexia is a chronic condition that is persistent in comparison to a transient developmental condition. For people with dyslexia, the Social Security Administration (SSA) added a new listing 12.11 for all those with neurodevelopmental disorders. These include learning disabilities like dyscalculia, dyslexia, ADHD, and Tourette’s syndrome.  

Dyslexia is not considered a severe disability by the SSA and has not been mentioned in its strict Blue Book guidelines. The Blue Book contains all the impairments that qualify for obtaining disability benefits. In the year 2017, the SSA made some amendments to the book including adding learning disabilities.

What Is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is also known as developmental reading disorder (DRD), which as suggested by the name affects an individual’s reading skills. Dyslexia often refers to a plethora of learning difficulties along with the inclination to mix up the sequence of words and/or letters.

Disability for DyslexiaDyslexia involves inaccurate interpretation that results in low reading ability. To get disability for dyslexia, it must be clear that dyslexia affects the person in a severe way. In comparison to most of the impairments that qualify, dyslexia can have a less dramatic effect on the claimant’s ability to earn a living or be effective in their working life. 

Dyslexia causes trouble in recognizing phonemes, which are the basic sounds of speech. However, dyslexia generally does not prevent people from searching for or attaining employment. Many individuals have dyslexia and are still successful. 

Some well-known individuals who have severe dyslexia and yet created history include Bill Gates, Steven Spielberg, and Pablo Picasso. So, if you have dyslexia, know that you can still have a successful work life. Here though, we’ll detail how the Social Security Administration (SSA) analyzes dyslexia.

Can You Get Disability for Dyslexia?

Children who have dyslexia have an increased risk of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Further, they may experience behavioral issues. Therefore, if a child satisfies the Social Security Administration (SSA) listing of neurodevelopmental disorders, they can qualify for benefits. 

An adult with dyslexia will be eligible for dyslexia disability allowance for adults by either proving that there are no jobs according to their medical vocational allowance, or that they satisfy the eligibility criteria of the Social Security Administration (SSA) Blue Book.

For children that have dyslexia disability, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has set a criterion for learning disabilities tic disorders on the ADHD listing 112.11. The criterion for listing is similar for both children and adults. Some of the requirements which must be fulfilled by the person to get the SSDI or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for Dyslexia are as follows:

  • The person must be suffering from a severe disability in learning, neurodevelopmental disorders, and in utilizing their academic capabilities. 
  • The level of disability must be moderate or severe, possibly even pre-literacy.
  • The claimant must be able to show that they are suffering from extreme limitation in any one of the following areas:
  • In understanding information, i.e. the ability to learn terms, develop an understanding of the terms, and in answering questions.
  • Communicating with others, including the capability to ask for help when needed or engage in social interactions.
  • Focusing on assigned tasks and maintaining speed of work, which includes how the claimant is beginning or ending the task and completing the task on time.
  • Adapting to change, including the ability to deal with emotions, create awareness of challenges, deal with risks, and safeguard oneself from danger.

The claimant can also show that they are suffering from marked limitation in two of the areas, where marked means that the severity level is less than extreme and more than moderate. The Social Security Administration considers marked as a serious constraint.

Sometimes, it may be problematic to show that dyslexia is causing marked constraints in two of the mentioned areas. Oftentimes, individuals can prove that they are suffering from marked limitations in understanding and learning, which technically does not qualify in SSA terms.

What are the Symptoms of Dyslexia?

It may be difficult to recognize the symptoms of dyslexia in a child when they enter school. However, parents and teachers must be observant of potential problems.

Before School School Age Teens and Adults
Late talking Problem in reading Problem in reading, writing and spelling
Learning new things at a slow pace Difficulty understanding content Mispronunciation of words
Difficulty forming words Challenges with forming answers to questions Avoiding reading and other related activities
Problems with memorizing numbers, letters, and colors Unable to pronounce words properly Trouble with learning a foreign language
Challenges with learning nursery rhymes Taking more time to complete tasks Issues with math problems


When someone experiences these dyslexia symptoms, they should see a doctor in order to get a diagnosis and proper treatment.

What Happens If A Claimant Doesn’t Meet The Requirements?

The SSA will analyze the severity of the claimant’s disability along with their capability to work. If you want to qualify for benefits, then you must prove that your disability is preventing you from performing “unskilled work,” even work that does not require reading and writing such as dishwashing or hand-packing. 

If you have physical impairment as well dyslexia, then the SSA may consider you for dyslexia disability benefits. For example, if you cannot read, are 45 years or older, and only able to do light work, then the SSA might consider you as disabled and thus eligible for payment.

Since getting SSDI benefits is difficult for most, you might face a denial even after submitting a thorough application. However, don’t give up if your first claim is denied.

How To Apply For Disability Benefits

You can file an online application for dyslexia disability. If you are unable to do it online, you can call at the toll-free number 1-800-772-1213. Deaf individuals or those with hearing problems can call at toll-free TTY number 1-800-325-0778. 

If your condition is severe, you can file a disability claim. For this, you may need assistance and direction from an experienced social security attorney in new jersey who has several years of experience in dealing with such matters. A disability lawyer can help you get your application right the first time or file an appeal if you’ve been denied.

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