How is disabilty determined in a young adult?


New Member
How do you know if a young adult is disabled? I know this probably sounds ridiculous! I am beginning to wonder about my son. He has been unable to complete college work and is unable to hold a job. (Due to mood and anxiety disorders)


Well-Known Member
Hi Cindy & welcome. There will specific diagnostic criteria to be met for someone to be considered disabled by social security. There is also a process for filing. I'm going to change the title of this thread so that other members with this sort of experience will be more likely to notice this thread.


Well-Known Member
Cindy...I am not completely sure what diagnoses your son has but you can get an idea from different websites such as or do a search on disabilitysecrets.

When I was gathering evidence for my hearing I ran across something interesting and sent it to my therapist for her thoughts.

I found the following information which is quite interesting and useful.

If you have bipolar disorder, major depression, phobias, agoraphobia, Tourette Syndrome, obsessions, compulsions, or panic attacks, you must prove that you have problems in at least two of the four areas of functioning.

If you have somatoform disorder or a personality disorder, Social Security requires you to have serious problems in three of the four areas.


Daily living skills
Activities of daily living include cooking, cleaning, and laundry. It includes getting dressed, brushing your teeth, going to the grocery store, and paying your rent on time.

If you need reminders to do those kinds of tasks, or just don’t do them, you have "marked restriction of activities of daily living." That is important in proving that your mental illness prevents you from working.

Social functioning
Social functioning means knowing how to say the right thing, and when. Evictions, firings, fear of strangers, and social isolation are important signs that you can’t work.

Are you unable to start up a conversation? Do you make rude remarks-- or "clam up" and don’t speak to others? Can you get along okay with family, neighbors, and the landlord? Can you get things done with a group of people? How do you act with people in authority? Those social skills are necessary to work, no matter what the job.

(c) Concentration, persistence, or pace
If you can’t complete tasks in a timely manner, that shows you have a deficiency in your "pace." Lots of people start a project and don’t finish it, especially with a hobby. But if you start important projects and never finish them, because your mind wanders, then you have a significant deficiency in concentration and you can’t work.

(d) Episodes of deterioration or decompensation
Decompensation means that you withdraw from the situation when you feel stress, or perhaps you "blow up" all of a sudden when things aren’t going right.

Do you go into a tailspin sometimes, and lose your cool? Does this happen even when you are trying to be on your best behavior? Any exacerbation of your signs and symptoms is an "episode" that keeps you from working. Having episodes like that, repeatedly, is a sure sign that you can’t function at work.


New Member
Seems to me, I remember reading criteria on the soc sec website itself? My husband has been on disability (multiple medical and mental disorders) since 1990 and I have been since 2000 (multiple autoimmune disorders) and my dtr age 18 was recently found to be "disabled before age 18) for severe bipolar, agoraphobia, major panic attacks.
Check the soc sec website. You might find a list of qualifying criteria there.


New Member
Cindy, I am about to go through this with my son. One thing they also look at is prior work many jobs they have had and why they left, what kind of work did they do and can they still do that kind of work (or school).
My son has had over 27 jobs and he is only 25! So this is an example.
I plan on trying myself the first time and if we get rejected,then I will hire an attorney. In the meantime we are going to attempt to help him through the dept. of rehabilitative services. They try to help them get back to work or to school. I was told it doesn't hurt your chances of getting disability...because maybe they can only work part time or go to school a little.