Can You Get Disability With Tourette’s Syndrome?

Tourette’s syndrome can severely restrict quality of life and cause many problems to the patient.  But can you get disability with Tourette’s syndrome? Does the government recognize it as a disability? Let us find out.

There is no single definition of disability in America. From the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to insurance policies in the country, all have a unique understanding of the term disability. 

Thus, people dealing with various health conditions must fulfill specific criteria to get disability benefits. The case of Tourette’s Syndrome is no different and calls for an assessment as well. 

If Tourette’s Syndrome in an adult or a child severely challenges their physical or mental activities, they can get disability benefits. However, the person will have to prove the severity of their condition to the concerned agency. 

Can You Get Disability With Tourette's Syndrome

While you can get disability benefits for Tourette’s Syndrome, but you cannot escape the path of proving whether your symptoms are severe, or you can work a job while dealing with the disorder. 

In this article, you will learn about the meaning and causes of Tourette’s Syndrome, the criteria you need to fulfill to get disability benefits, and ways to ensure a ‘pass’ certificate from the concerned agencies. 

So, read on to learn the process and help others dealing with this frustrating condition to get disability benefits. 

What is Tourette’s Syndrome?

Tourette’s Syndrome, or Tourette’s, is a condition related to the nervous system where a person cannot control specific body movements. It includes repetitive body movements, twitches, or uncontrollable sounds called tics, which sometimes make their life uncomfortable. 

For instance, someone dealing with Tourette’s might blink regularly, even if they don’t want to, or grunt involuntarily from time to time. 

There are treatments to control tics, but most people do not need them. However, if the movements or vocal disturbances bother a person, they can seek treatment/medical assistance. 

Tourette’s Syndrome affects boys more than girls and often starts in childhood and tends to disappear by the time people reach adulthood. Some adults continue to show mild symptoms of tics, but in many cases, the symptoms go away completely. 

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What Causes Tourette’s Syndrome?

The medical world still doesn’t know the exact condition that causes it, but Tourette’s Syndrome is linked with a part of the brain called basal ganglia, responsible for body movements. 

Doctors and researchers have only concluded that it happens due to some problem in different parts of the brain and might also have something to do with the genes. 

Can You Get Disability With Tourette's Syndrome

What Are The Symptoms of Tourette’s?

The first and most noticeable symptom of Tourette’s is tics. For those who don’t know what tics are, it is a sudden but brief movement that can be both physical or vocal movement beyond a person’s control. 

There are two types of tics:

  • Simple tics: Some examples of these are eye-twitching, excessive blinking, sniffing, etc. Simple tics only affect very few body parts
  • Complex tics: These include many body parts moving intermittently but briefly. These movements have distinct patterns, for instance, bobbing one’s head, jumping and jerking at the same time. 

Apart from the above, motor tics and vocal tics are also a part of this Syndrome, even though they aren’t essential. They have branched out of simple and complex tics. 

Motor tics are about movements of the body such as blinking, jerking, shrugging, twitching, etc., while vocal tics are sounds that come out of the person’s mouth without control. Some examples of vocal tics include grunting, barking, grunting, repeating words or phrases, etc. 

Always remember that stress, sickness, or tiredness are some reasons which can make this disorder worse. These things should be kept at bay from the person who is already dealing with this condition.

The experts have also observed that people with Tourette’s usually have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), which can cause trouble in people with anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and learning disabilities like dyslexia. 

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Can You Get Disability With Tourette’s Syndrome?

Many people suffering from this condition do get disability benefits. Tourette’s can show up differently in each person and thus, affects them differently. For some, it is a case of simple tics, but others deal with its complexity. 

To qualify for the meeting a disability, you must check all conditions laid down by Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplementary Security Income (SSI). 

SSDI is for the people who successfully paid Social Security taxes for many years, while SSI is available for low-income groups who do not have a work history. 

To get disability benefits, the claimant must prove that their mental pr physical health is so severely affected due to the condition that they have been unable to practice or perform substantial activities for the past 12 months continuously. 

Can You Get Disability With Tourette's Syndrome

Tourette’s Syndrome and Social Security Disability

The Social Security Disability (SSA) describes the disability in adults as being unable to do any substantial because of their condition. It is also essential that the medical condition must last at least one year in the continuation or result in death. 

Conditions That You Need To Satisfy

The SSA describes the disability in children as having a physical or mental condition that seriously limits their otherwise functioning abilities and activities. 

In the case of children, the medical condition must last at least one year in the continuation or have resulted in death. 

To determine whether the person is eligible for disability, the SSA will first look into listing 12.11 for neurodevelopmental disorders and see if their condition meets it. 

For Tourette’s, the listing says that they must experience repetitive motor movement or vocal problems. Additionally, the individual must also have any of the following ‘extreme’ social as well as severe limitations in at least two:

  • Interaction with others 
  • Managing own self 
  • Understating information 
  • Keeping pace with others and concentrating

If your case is found severe, the agency will make arrangements for the benefits of your disability. Relief is provided in work, transportation, public services, leisure, etc. 

Can You Get Disability With Tourette's Syndrome

What If Your Case Gets Denied?

However, suppose your cause doesn’t pass the severity mentioned in the listing. In that case, the organization prepares a Residual Functional Capacity assessment (RFC) to individually focus on your case and discuss how Tourette’s limits your ability to perform in day-to-day life. 

There are two types of RFCs to be used in this regard – 

  • Physical RFC assessed the concerned person’s inability to perform jobs requiring balancing, climbing, working around heavy machinery, etc. 
  • Mental RFC – When the impairment limits a person’s ability to perform mental or emotional work, that’s when this RFC is issued. 

Once the analysis is over, the agency finds jobs that the person can do and thus, denies their claim. However, if your disability lawyer makes an argument for providing proper medical evidence to rule out the job option, they can do so. 

If you have other conditions like ADHD, OCD, or anxiety, it is recommended to get a doctor’s hand-written document to present to the agency.The agency takes supportive statements into account and other evidence while deciding the claim. 

The same criteria are applied in the case of children as well. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

#1. Can you get disability for Tourette’s?

Yes, you can get disability for Tourette’s, but you will have to qualify for the condition set by either SSDI or SSI. The SSA will first check whether your condition meets the criteria of neurodevelopmental disorders or not. 
If you do not qualify the requirements, the agency will prepare an RFC (either physical or mental) to discuss and decide how your daily activities are affected by the disorder.
Once the analysis is complete, it will get you a disability job, depending on your functional limitations. However, if your doctor or physician prescribes that the severity of your condition doesn’t allow you to work, it can make a significant impact on authorities.
If you qualify, the agency will proceed with the paperwork to get you the claims and benefits for Tourette’s disability. 

#2. Is dyslexia considered a disability?

In most cases, dyslexia is not considered a disability and thus, will not qualify to receive Social Security disability benefits. However, there are always exceptional cases where the severity of the condition is so high that you are allowed to have access to the benefits. 
You should consult an attorney to help you evaluate your case and see if you are in the position to claim the benefits. 

#3. Is Tourette’s Syndrome classed as a disability?

Tourette’s Syndrome is classed as a disability, but one needs to go through various procedures to qualify for the benefits. In simple words, yes, it is a disability that is covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The areas covered by the ADA include work, transportation, leisure, shopping, and public services. 

A Few Final Words

The hardest part of dealing with Tourette’s is not the discomfort but the frustration that comes with one’s inability to control their own body. As challenging as it can be, the best way to deal with it is by taking good care of your body. 

You can start with educating yourself regarding the disorder, get support from friends and family, see a doctor, discuss your problem with them, exercise daily, eat nutritious food, and stay calm. 

Thank you for reading the article, we hope we covered everything that you needed to understand about claiming disability with Tourette’s. If you have further questions, do write to us and we will help you out.