Social Security

The Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability programs are the largest of several Federal programs that provide assistance to people with disabilities. Children with autism may be eligible for SSI disability benefits if their family’s income and assets aren’t above the SSI limits. An adult with autism can apply for SSI or SSDI. However, SSDI is available only to those with a work history from jobs that paid Social Security taxes. An “adult child” of a parent receiving Social Security retirement or disability benefits, meaning a child over the age of 18 who has had autism before turning age 22, can get SSDI benefits on the earning record of the parent. A child may quality for disability benefits from birth to age 18 under the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. The SSI program is based on a lower family income allowable limit. Families who are eligible to receive Medicaid and/or Food Stamps may fall within the allowable income limit.

When a child becomes 18, he or she is legally adult and the income and resources of family members do not count when deciding whether an adult meets the financial limits for SSI. Only the adult’s income and resources are considered (which is usually nothing).

The process is a long one, and will require a lot of documentation to back up your claims.  Social Security will look to see if deficits in social interaction
deficits, verbal and nonverbal communication, and significantly restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities are documented as well as if individual’s functioning is severely limited by autism. Social Security will require that all of the following are documented in a child’s medical records.   The child must either have an extreme limitation in one of the following areas or a “marked” (severe) limitation in two of the following areas:

  • understanding, remembering, or using information (ability to learn, remember, and use information, follow instructions, solve problems, use reason to make decisions)
  • interacting with others (ability to engage in interactive play, cooperate with others, maintain friendships, handle conflicts, initiate or sustain conversation, understand social cues)
  • focusing on activities (ability to engage in activities at a consistent pace, avoid distractions, complete tasks in timely manner), and
  • adapting or managing oneself (ability to regulate emotions, control behavior, protect oneself from harm, maintain personal hygiene).

After you apply and submit the required paperwork, the Social Security Administration will then send you a letter stating whether your disability claim has been Accepted or Denied. You may request a Hearing should you disagree with their Decision.  It is not uncommon for families to be denied the first time they apply.  If you need additional assistance, please see the resource below.


Compassion in Action
P.O. Box 383, San Dimas
(626) 967-6800
Provided free of charge to the ill or injured who need assistance with Social Security Disability, SSI Disability, and/or Medi-Cal/Medicaid. If other services are needed, referrals will be made to the appropriate agencies.

Community Access Center
6848 Magnolia Avenue, Suite 150, Riverside (951) 274-0358
81-730 Hwy 111, Suite 2, Indio (760) 347-4888
550 E. 6th Street, Beaumont (951) 769-8539
Provides the following Services: Individual Advocacy, Information and Referral, PARADIGMS, The Technology Evaluation Computer Center, Self-Advocacy” training, ADA compliance reviews, Mental health counseling in American Sign Language, Caregiver Training. Will attend IEPs or IPPs for Regional Center. Can assist with Social Security and IHSS.

The Elder & Disability Law Firm
(909) 677-2671
104 E. Olive Ave, Ste 103, Redlands, CA
3610 Central Ave, Ste 400, Riverside, CA
Provides special needs estate planning and represents clients who have issues with an SSI benefit being discontinued.

Law Office of Christopher A. Poulos
(626) 960-9373
101 N. Orange Ave., Suite C, West Covina
Practice focuses on the rights of persons with developmental disabilities and their families. He assists families in creating supported living arrangements, Special Needs Trusts, Conservatorships, Limited Conservatorships, SSI, estate planning, administrative hearings against Regional Center, advising on the ABLE accounts and more.

Office of Clients Rights Advocate (OCRA)- Inland Regional Center
3602 Inland Empire Blvd., Suite B-100 Ontario, CA 91764
Phone: (909) 383-1133
As a client of Regional Center, the Clients Rights Advocate (CRA) may be able to help answer questions or refer you to another resource in administrative hearings in regards to schools, Social Security, Medi-Cal, neglect, rehabilitation, mental health, discrimination, Regional Centers, In-Home Services, private insurance, guardianship, abuse, day care, criminal matters, personal autonomy, and conservatorship and Alternatives. The Advocate decides which cases they will represent based on the merits of the claim, the ability to advocate for yourself, availability of OCRA resources, and other advocacy sources.

Rolling Start
570 W 4th St, San Bernardino
Also has an office in Victorville
(909) 884-2129
Community-based, non-profit organization that serves individuals with disabilities in San Bernardino County by providing information, referral and peer support. Includes housing referrals, independent living skills training, advocacy, and a help line.

Autism Society Options Policy

This Resource Guide was developed to provide families and professionals with an opportunity to find resources related to autism in the Inland Empire in one place.

All information provided or published by the Autism Society Inland Empire is for information purposes only. Specific treatment, therapy or services should be provided to an individual only at the direction of the individual’s doctor, caregiver, or other qualified professional. References to any treatment or therapy option, program, service, or treatment provider are not an endorsement by the Autism Society. References of treatments, therapies, programs, services, and/or providers are not intended to be comprehensive statements. You should investigate alternatives that may be more appropriate for a specific individual. The Autism Society assumes no responsibility for the use made of any information published or provided. The Autism Society Inland Empire provides information, but it does not constitute medical or legal information. Referrals provided are suggestions to organizations that might help, but do not constitute a recommendation. The Autism Society Inland Empire cannot be held responsible for consequences that arise from individual dealings with a professional or organization. The inclusion of any organization does not imply endorsement, and omission does not imply disapproval. The Autism Society Inland Empire may add or remove organizations from this list at its discretion.