Close Menu


A low IQ can lead to winning SSD and SSI benefits. For instance, if you have a low IQ, it may prevent you from working. 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 SSDI and SSI disability benefits for your IQ. Social Security Disability benefits are available if you cannot work for more than 12 months. These benefits come with Medicare benefits.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits are paid in addition to your SSD benefits if you get a low monthly amount or if you have never worked. A set amount of SSI pays out each month if you are meet the SSA’s financial rules. Normally, if you win SSI benefits you also qualify for Medicaid benefits. Learn more about Medicaid benefits here.

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 SSD and SSI 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 did not have enough 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 SSD 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 at the independent level of practice in the State where the test is given.

The doctor who gives the test must 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) IV 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 when the test taker is alone.

Also, the SSA will be looking for the subtests 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 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 determined by listing 12.05:


Intellectual disorder refers to significantly subaverage general intellectual functioning. Those intellectual deficits cause problems with adaptive functioning. Therefore, they usually begin in childhood during the developmental period. The medical evidence you give to the SSA must also show that the onset of your intellectual condition started before you were 22 years old.

Listing 12.05 has two parts, Part A or Part B. You can win benefits if you meet either Part A OR Part B. Under Part A, you have to have all 3 of the elements you see below. Part A describes the person with the most severe intellectual condition, because they cannot participate in testing. Normally, if a person meets Part A, they would be dependent on their family since birth. It is more common for those filing for benefits to win benefits under Part B of the listing.

12.05 Intellectual disorder, satisfied by A or B:

  1. Satisfied by 1, 2, and 3:
    1. Significantly subaverage general intellectual functioning evident in your cognitive inability to function at a level required to participate in standardized testing of intellectual functioning; and
    2. Significant deficits in adaptive functioning currently manifested by your dependence upon others for personal needs (for example, toileting, eating, dressing, or bathing); and
    3. The evidence about your current intellectual and adaptive functioning and about the history of your disorder demonstrates or supports the conclusion that the disorder began prior to your attainment of age 22.


  1. Satisfied by 1, 2, and 3:
    1. Significantly subaverage general intellectual functioning evidenced by a or b:
      1. A full scale (or comparable) IQ score of 70 or below on an individually administered standardized test of general intelligence; or
      2. A full scale (or comparable) IQ score of 71-75 accompanied by a verbal or performance IQ score (or comparable part score) of 70 or below on an individually administered standardized test of general intelligence; and
    2. Significant deficits in adaptive functioning currently manifested by extreme limitation of one, or marked limitation of two, of the following areas of mental functioning:
      1. Understand, remember, or apply information; or
      2. Interact with others; or
      3. Concentrate, persist, or maintain pace; or
      4. Adapt or manage oneself; and
    3. The evidence about your current intellectual and adaptive functioning and about the history of your disorder demonstrates or supports the conclusion that the disorder began prior to your attainment of age 22.


Most of the people 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 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 question the medical expert at your hearing. 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 SSD and SSI 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 Social Security benefits.

We can help you file your SSDI and your SSI claim. You can file your application online on the 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 qualify for Medicaid benefits. Medicaid pays health bills for low income families. Find out more information about Medicaid benefits here.


In order to be qualify for 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 proving your condition.

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

Even if you do not have this evidence, there are federal court cases which show if an applicant for benefits has evidence of cognitive limitations on an IQ test as an adult, then it is up to the SSA, not the applicant, 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).


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.

The SSA states that adaptive functioning refers to how you learn and use conceptual, social, and practical skills in dealing with common life demands. It is your typical functioning at home and in the community, alone or among others. You have trouble in this area when you depend on other people to care for you personal needs. For example, you may have trouble taking care of yourself and need help from others to cook, shop, drive, or clean. You may also need reminders to bathe or you may need help paying your bills.

You may also need help getting or following directions. It can be very hard for people with a low IQ to learn to read or do math. You might need help reading your mail or filing your taxes. IQ issues are also often connected to neurological disorders. Learn more about disability and neurological disorders here.

Other examples include problems learning in school. Or, learning to drive. Typically, if you have a low IQ, you may have problems finding and keeping a job. In order to keep a job, if you have an intellectual disorder, then you might need a job coach. Likewise, you migh have a history of losing jobs after a short period of time. When the SSA looks at your ability in this area, they do not rely on your statements alone. They will review any doctors statements, but they will also review statements from your family, friends, and teachers.


The SSA requires you 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, wearing appropriate attire to a work setting, and being careful around hazards).

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



This area of mental function refers to your ability to learn, recall, and use information to perform work. Examples include: understanding and learning terms, instructions, procedures; following one or two step oral instructions to carry out a task; describing work activity to someone else; asking and answering questions and providing explanations; recognizing a mistake and correcting it; identifying and solving problems; sequencing multiple steps in activities; and using reason and judgment to make work decisions. These examples show the nature of this area of mental functioning. However, the SSA does not require evidence for all of the examples.


This area of mental functioning refers to the ability to relate to and work with supervisors, co-workers, and the public. For instance, if you have mental health issues you may have trouble cooperating with others. Additionally, you may also have problems asking for help when needed or handling conflicts with others.


This area of mental function refers to your ability to focus attention on work activities and stay on task at a normal rate. Examples include starting and performing tasks that you understand and know how to do. Also, working at an appropriate and consistent pace and completing tasks in a timely manner. It means you can also ignore distractions while working. You should also be able to change activities or work settings without being disruptive.


This area of mental functioning refers to your ability to regulate your emotions, control behavior, and maintain normal behavior in a work setting. For instance, if you have mental health issues in this are you may have problems responding to demands and adapting to changes. Additionally, you might have trouble managing your psychologically based symptoms. For more information about how to prove the Part B criteria, see our article, “Part B Criteria Wins Mental Health Benefits.


Even if you do not meet the IQ listing, you can still use your IQ to win benefits. One of the best things you can use from your IQ testing to prove the SSA should pay your benefits are your 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 boss 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 over and over 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 the judge why you cannot work. Your IQ scores are part of your residual functional capacity. Find out more here about your residual functional capacity and how it impacts your SSD and SSI case. 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.


You do not need to try to win SSDI and SSI benefits by yourself. Cannon Disability Law can help file your disability application. Also, we can help you appeal every SSA denial. That way, you can focus on your health. For example, our attorneys and staff can:

  • Send you the paperwork you need to become our client
  • Help you file your application for SSD and SSI benefits
  • Inform the SSA that they should automatically pay your benefits under the Compassionate Allowance Rules
  • Request reconsideration if you receive an initial denial from Disability Determination Services
  • Help you confirm your attendance at a Consultative Examination
  • Request a Hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)
  • Prepare you to be a good witness at your SSA hearing
  • Represent you at your hearing and question the experts
  • Read more about vocational experts here
  • Learn more about medical expert testimony here
  • Request review of an unfavorable decision with the Appeals Council
  • Request review of an Appeals Council denial in Federal Court

If you file your application for benefits online at Social Security’s website, then you have 6 months to complete the application. Once you submit your application online, the SSA sends you an application summary in the mail. You must sign it and mail it back.

Additionally, once you receive a denial, you have 60 days to file an appeal. You must also meet the time limit set by the SSA. If you do not, then you will have to start the process over again. That means you will lose any benefits you could receive on any prior application.


At Cannon Disability, we have won over $100 million dollars in ongoing and past due benefits for our clients. We have the experience to win your IQ case. No matter where you live, we can help you, because we have clients in Utah. Utah disability information can be found here. Likewise, Nevada disability information is hereCalifornia disability information is found here.

Find out more about our lawyers. 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 knowledge 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 Social Security benefits in your IQ case. It is also our goal to make filing for SSD and SSI benefits easier for you. We offer a free review of your case. If you call, then there is no obligation to become our client. You can simply ask questions. We will answer. Even if we don’t accept 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 $7200 by the SSA. 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 fee cap. You will pay whatever is the lesser amount of the two and only if we win your case.


At the end of your IQ 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 costs for medical records and other offices costs that we incur for your case. However, that fee is also less than $100.

You will owe the costs in your case.  Whether we win or lose your case, you must pay your own costs. 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 win your benefits. If we do not win your benefits, you will not owe any attorney fee.

Hiring an attorney with the experience to win your SSDI and SSI case is the best way to help yourself. Contact us today. Take advantage of our free review or your case.

Find out more about our representatives on our About Us page. We want to be your 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 SSD and SSI benefits for IQ issues.

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn
Contact Form Tab

Quick Contact Form