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Intellectual disability (ID) is a term that is used to describe a person who has limits in their mental functioning and in their communication skills, self care skills, and social skills. Children with ID take longer to learn to speak, walk, and take care of themselves. They have trouble learning in school. Usually it takes them longer to learn concepts. Additionally, there may be some things they cannot learn.

Intellectual conditions can be caused by a problem that starts any time before a child turns 18 years old. It can be caused by disease, injury, or a problem in the brain prior to birth. Some of the most common causes of ID are Down syndrome, fetal alcohol syndrome, genetic conditions, birth defects, and infections that affect the brain. Other causes of intellectual disability do not occur until a child is older. For example, a child may suffer a serious head injury, stroke, or a brain infection.


SSA has a listing for intellectual disability. The Social Security Administration recognizes that people with ID may not be able to work. ID can also result in problems on the job and in their adult life. ID must prevent you from working for over 12 months in order to win benefits.

intellectual disability


There are no specific treatments that can cure intellectual disability, as it is a permanent condition. However, there are things that can help individuals with ID to improve their quality of life and manage their symptoms.

Some of the most common treatments for ID include:

  1. Education: Special education programs teach and support those with ID. They help people with ID develop academic and functional skills.
  2. Behavioral therapy: Behavioral therapy, such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), can help people with ID learn new skills and behaviors. It can also reduce negative behaviors and improve social and communication skills.
  3. Medications: Medications can manage symptoms that might come along with ID, such as seizures, anxiety, and depression.
  4. Speech and language therapy: Speech and language therapy can help those with ID improve their communication skills. It can also help improve their ability to get along with others.
  5. Occupational therapy: Occupational therapy can help people with ID develop skills to perform daily activities and improve their independence.
  6. Social and emotional support: Social and emotional support, such as counseling and peer support groups, can help individuals with ID cope with the challenges that are part of ID and improve their  wellbeing.


Center for Parent Information and Resources

The Center for Parent Information and Resources shares family friendly information and research materials on a variety of topics including ID.

Utah Developmental Disabilities Council (UDDC)

The UDDC’s mission is to be Utah’s leading source of critical information that helps the lives of those with developmental conditions.

Division of Services for People with Disabilities (DSPD)

Utah’s DSPD provides support for people to lead their own lives.  They oversee home and community services, job services, and give support to those who use their services and their families.

Family to Family Network

This is a network of local volunteer leaders and groups that provides education and support to families who have a member with a disability. The Network’s particular area of experience is giving supports to families who are on the waiting list or in services from the Utah Division of Services for People with Disabilities.

Utah Down Syndrome Foundation

The UDSF continues today to link families together and to educate parents and the public in understanding the needs of individuals with Down syndrome.

American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD)

AAIDD promotes research and human rights for people with intellectual and developmental conditions.


Under SSA’s List of Impairments, intellectual disability is defined under listing 12.05 as follows:

Intellectual disability:  Intellectual disability refers to significantly subaverage general intellectual functioning with deficits in adaptive functioning initially manifested during the developmental period; i.e., the evidence demonstrates or supports the onset of the impairment before age 22.

The required level of severity for this condition is met when, under 12.05 B, the claimant has a valid verbal, performance, or Full Scale IQ of 59 or less. Under listing 12.05 C, the claimant can also meet or equal the listing if they have:

A valid verbal, performance, or full scale IQ of 60 through 70 and a physical or other mental impairment imposing an additional and significant work related limitation of function.

Additionally, a claimant can meet or equal a listing under 12.05 D, which is as follows:

D. A valid verbal, performance, or full scale IQ of 60 through 70, resulting in at least two of the following:

1. Marked restriction of activities of daily living; or

2. Marked difficulty in maintaining social functioning; or

3. Marked difficulty in maintaining concentration, persistence, or pace; or

4. Repeated episodes of decompensation, each of extended duration.


The SSA considers Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) when looking at whether they can pay you SSD benefits based on intellectual disability. RFC is a measure of your ability to perform work related activities despite your ID.

When evaluating a claim for benefits based on ID, the SSA will first determine whether you meet listing 12.05 for ID. If you do not meet listing 12.05, the SSA will then look at your RFC to determine your ability to work.

The RFC assessment for ID will focus on your intellect, including your ability to understand and follow instructions. They will look at your ability to remember information, solve problems, and get along with others. The RFC will also take into account any physical or sensory limits that may impact your ability to perform work activities.

The SSA will consider all available medical records, testing, and the opinions of your treating doctor, when assessing RFC. The RFC will determine whether you are capable of doing any of your past work or any other work that exists in significant numbers in the national economy. In short, once the SSA judge determines your RFC, that information is given to a vocational expert and the judge asks them if you can work.


Most individuals whose testing falls below 70 are in the bottom 10% of “general learning ability.” This is a term used by the SSA to determine if a person can work.  If your IQ score is in the bottom 10% of general learning ability, then you should be found unable to work at any job in the national economy.

At your hearing, the ALJ may invite a medical expert to testify as to whether your IQ meets or equals listing 12.05. You will need an attorney to question the medical expert. Find out more here about the medical expert at your Social Security hearing.

Many vocational experts and judges ignore the fact that low IQ can prevent you from working. For that reason, you need an attorney who can question the VE. If you are seeking benefits and have valid IQ testing from a psychologist that falls within the above ranges, you should contact our office. Chances are good that you  can win benefits.

We can help you file your application for benefits. You can file online with Social Security’s website. Additionally, children with ID may also be able to get Supplemental Security Income benefits. Find out more about filing for children’s SSI benefits here.

Additionally, along with SSI benefits, you may get Medicaid benefits. Medicaid is health insurance for low income families. Find out more information about Medicaid benefits here.


Most individuals whose testing falls below 70 are normally in the bottom 10% of “general learning ability.” This is a term the SSA uses to determine if an individual can work.  If an individual has an IQ that is in the bottom 10% of general learning ability, then they should be found unable to work at any job in the national economy.

Many vocational experts and judges ignore the fact that those in the bottom 10% of learning ability cannot work.  If you are seeking SSD and SSI benefits and have valid IQ testing from a psychologist that falls within the above ranges, you should contact our office.

You may be able to win benefits. Therefore, we can help you file your application. Additionally, children with ID can get Supplemental Security Income. SSI benefits may also be an option for you if you have never worked.

In order to learn more, go to our page on this website IQ and Winning Disability Benefits. Once you read the article, if you still have questions, please feel free to contact us. We offer a free review of your case to anyone who wants to become our client. Additionally, it is easy to apply for SSD and SSI benefits online at the SSA’s website. We can help you file your application. Just give us a call.


At Cannon Disability, we have won over $100 million dollars in ongoing and past due benefits for our clients. We have the experience you need in court to win your intellectual disability or IQ case. No matter where you live, we can help you, because we have clients in Utah, Nevada, Idaho, and California.

Find out more about our lawyers and staff. Dianna Cannon has been helping client win Social Security benefits for over 30 years. Brett Bunkall has won hundreds of cases in Utah, Nevada, and Idaho. Andria Summers also has over 20 years of experience helping our clients win their benefits.

Furthermore, our attorneys understand the law. We will use our legal experience to help you. Also, we have helped thousands of people with IQ issues who cannot work win benefits. Contact us today to hire a Social Security attorney with the experience to win your case.


A lot is riding on winning benefits. Your future, as well as that of your family, are at stake. Because it is so important, you need to hire the best Social Security attorney to help you in your case.

How will you know who the best SSD and SSI attorney? It is simple. Look for two things.

First, find an attorney who has the legal experience to help you win SSD benefits. Because legal experience is invaluable.  For example, the attorneys at Cannon Disability have over 30 years of legal experience. We have won over 20,000 SSD and SSI cases in the last 30 years. Therefore, we have the legal experience you need.

Second, find an attorney you like. Make sure the staff at your law firm treats you with kindness and respect. When you apply for benefits, it may take up to two years to receive benefits.

Because of the length of time that it takes to win benefits, you will develop a relationship with your attorney and their office. Pick an attorney that you can get along with. You will be happier with the whole process. Contact Cannon Disability Law and see if we are a good fit for you. Let us help you with your intellectual disability case.

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