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Your IQ can lead to winning disability benefits. For instance, if you have a low IQ, you may not be able to work. You might know if you have a low IQ because it is hard to learn new things. Or, maybe you cannot keep a job, because you keep getting fired. Perhaps you are not able to remember job instructions. Or maybe you cannot make it through job training.

If that is the case, then Cannon Disability Law can help you win SSD and SSI disability benefits for your IQ. SSD benefits are available if you cannot work for more than 12 months. These benefits come with Medicare. SSI benefits are a supplement. A set amount of SSI pays out each month if you are financially eligible. Typically, receiving SSI benefits means you also qualify for Medicaid.

Both SSD and SSI benefits are tied to the date of application. Therefore, apply as soon as you can. Because every day you wait to apply is a day you are losing money. For the past 30 years, we have helped our clients apply for disability benefits. We love winning benefits for people who have IQ issues and cannot work.

IQ and disability


There are many reasons for IQ issues. For example, you may have a learning disorder? Or, perhaps you were in special education and now have trouble working? Likewise, perhaps you were deprived of oxygen at birth and this led to having a low IQ.

Sometimes, people are in an accident and have a Traumatic Brain Injury. Find out more about Traumatic Brain Injury here. Brain injury can lower your IQ. Strokes can also cause IQ issues. As you can see, there are many causes of IQ issues.

The Social Security Administration calls this type of problem an “intellectual disorder.” Learn more about the SSA’s requirements for disability under the IQ listing here. If you have an intellectual disorder you can apply for disability benefits online at the Social Security website.


In order to test your IQ, the SSA does not use a free online IQ test. To support a finding of disability for an intellectual disorder, the SSA requires the IQ test to be a standardized intelligence test.

They also require the test to be given by a “qualified specialist.” The SSA states that a “qualified specialist” is licensed or certified at the independent level of practice in the State where the test is given.

They also have the training to administer, score, and interpret the intelligence tests. If a psychological assistant or paraprofessional administers the test, a supervisory specialist must interpret the test findings and co-sign the examination report.

Typically, the SSA will accept standardized IQ tests such as the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS) and the Stanford-Binet test. However, the SSA no longer requires any certain intelligence test. Their concern is that the IQ test is one that is an accurate standardized test. Additionally, the IQ test must not be given in a group setting. Instead, it has to be taken individually.

Also, the SSA will be looking for the sub-tests that include a verbal score and a performance score. Other important scores are the perceptual reasoning score, working memory, and the processing speed score. All of these tests combine together and result in the individual’s full scale IQ score.


The Social Security Administration recognizes that people with Intellectual Disabilities may not be able to work due to their IQ deficits. Under SSA’s Listed Impairments, Intellectual Disability is defined as follows with listing 12.05:


Intellectual disorder refers to significantly subaverage general intellectual functioning with deficits in adaptive functioning initially manifested during the developmental period. The medical evidence you give to the SSA must also demonstrate that the onset of the impairment began before age 22.

The required level of severity for this disorder is met when, under 12.05 B, the claimant has a valid verbal, performance, or Full-Scale IQ of 59 or less. Under listed impairment 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 difficulties in maintaining social functioning; or 3. Marked difficulties in maintaining concentration, persistence, or pace; or 4. Repeated episodes of decompensation, each of extended duration.


The majority of individuals whose testing falls below 70 are typically in the bottom 10% of “general learning ability.” This is a term used by the SSA to determine if a person can work.  If an individual’s IQ is in the bottom 10% of general learning ability, then they 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 cross-examine the medical expert. Find out more here about the medical expert at your disability hearing.

Many vocational experts and judges ignore the fact that low IQ can prevent you from working.  If you are seeking disability benefits and have valid IQ testing from a psychologist that falls within the above ranges, you should contact our office. Chances are that you are eligible for disability benefits.

We can help you file a disability claim. You can file online with Social Security’s website. Additionally, children with intellectual disabilities may also be eligible for Supplemental Security Income. Find out more about filing for children’s SSI benefits here.

Additionally, along with SSI benefits, you may be eligible for Medicaid benefits. Medicaid is healthcare for low income families. Find out more information about Medicaid benefits here.


In order to be qualify for disability benefits, the SSA requires your intellectual disorder to start before the age of 22. Normally, if you have an intellectual disorder you will have records showing the issue.

For example, you may have been in “special education” or resource classes while in school. You may have records of tutoring or IQ tests from childhood. You might have been in a special school to help you learn. A copy of your report card from elementary school or high school can help you. Or, there may be medical records from your pediatrician that confirms your intellectual disorder.

Even if you do not have this evidence, there are federal court cases which show if a claimant has evidence of cognitive limitations on an IQ test as an adult, then it is up to the SSA, not the claimant, to prove she did not have these limitations before age 22. Talavera v. Astrue, 697 F.3d 145 (2d Cir. 2012).

Courts of Appeals in other Circuits have held that “absent evidence of sudden trauma that can cause retardation, the adult claimant’s IQ tests create a rebuttable presumption of a fairly constant IQ throughout her life.” Hodges v. Barnhart, 276 F.3d 1265, 1268 (11th Cir.2001); see also Muncy v. Apfel, 247 F.3d 728, 734 (8th Cir.2001) (same); Luckey v. U.S. Dep’t of Health & Human Servs., 890 F.2d 666, 668 (4th Cir.1989) (per curiam) (same); Guzman v. Bowen, 801 F.2d 273, 275 (7th Cir.1986) (same).


When you apply for disability benefits, the SSA will also look at whether you have  significant deficits in “adaptive functioning.” Adaptive functioning, especially after age 22, shows the ability to engage in work. At least that is true according to the SSA.

For example, you may have had trouble graduating from high school. Or, learning to drive. Typically, if you have a low IQ, you may have trouble finding and keeping a job. In order to keep a job, a claimant with an intellectual disorder might need a job coach. Likewise, they may have a history of losing jobs after a short time.

You may have trouble taking care of yourself. For example, some people need help cooking, shopping,  or driving. They may also need help getting or following directions. It can be very hard for people with intellectual disorders to learn to read or do math. You might need help paying your bills or reading your mail.


The SSA requires the claimant to have an extreme limitation in one of the following areas of mental functioning, or a “marked” limitation in two of the following areas:

  • Understanding, remembering, or using information (exercising judgment, planning, learning new things, applying new knowledge to tasks, ability to understand instructions)
  • Interacting with others (ability to use socially appropriate behaviors)
  • Concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace (ability to complete tasks), and/or
  • Taking care of oneself (distinguishing between acceptable and unacceptable work performance, maintaining attire appropriate to a work setting, taking appropriate precautions around hazards).

Find out more here about the medical records you need to prove disability to the SSA.


Even if you do not meet the IQ listing, you can still use your IQ to win disability benefits. One of the best things you can use from your IQ testing, in order to prove disability, are the subtest scores. For example, if you have a low processing speed score this may show that you will not be good on the job at doing timed tasks quickly.

Likewise, a poor working memory score will show that you will not be able to remember instructions. If your supervisors gives you four verbal instructions, for example, you might forget two of them. Or, you may not be able to remember your instructions and have to ask for help repeatedly during the workday.

These are the types of facts that an attorney with experience knows from reading your IQ tests. Your attorney can use your IQ tests at the hearing to demonstrate to judge that you cannot work. Your IQ scores are part of your residual functional capacity. Find out more here about your residual functional capacity.

For instance, at your hearing, your attorney can question the vocational expert using your IQ scores. If you have poor subtest scores, then it is possible for your attorney to prove you cannot perform skilled work jobs. Find out more about the purpose of vocational expert testimony here.


At Cannon Disability, we have won over $100 million dollars in ongoing and past due disability 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 representatives. Dianna Cannon has been practicing disability law 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 claimants win disability benefits.

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


We will use our legal skills to help you through the disability process. It is our goal to win your IQ disability case. It is also our goal to make applying for disability benefits easier for you. We offer a free consultation. If you call, then there is no obligation to become a client. You can simply ask questions. We will answer. Even if we don’t accept representation in your case, we will still try to help you.

Also, it doesn’t cost you any upfront money to hire us. Why? Because you only pay us an attorney fee if we win your case. This is a contingency fee. It means if we win, you pay us out of your back benefits. If you do not win, you do not pay an attorney fee.

How much is the attorney fee? It is 25% of your back benefit. The SSA pays the attorney fee. Also, there is a fee cap set at $6000 by the SSA.  The cap will raise to $7200 in November 2022. You never pay more than the fee cap at the hearing stage of your case. And, 25% of your back benefit is usually less than the $6000 cap. You will pay whatever is the lesser amount and only if we win your case.


At the end of your IQ disability benefits case, if there are costs, then you pay those costs. Typically, if a doctor charges for copies of your medical records, then that is your bill to pay. But for most clients, the medical records cost is less than $100. We also have a small office fee that covers expenses we incur for your case. However, that fee is also less than $100.

You will owe the costs in your case. Costs must be paid, whether we win or lose your case. However, you only pay an attorney fee if we win your case. The attorney fee comes from your back benefit. Remember, you only owe an attorney fee, if we do not win benefits for you.

Hiring an attorney with the experience to represent you in your disability case is the best way to help yourself. Contact us today. Take advantage of our free consultation.

Find out more about our representatives on our About Us page. We want to be your disability legal team. And, we want to win for you. We also want to help you through this difficult process. Let us help you win your disability benefits for IQ issues.

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