The inclusion of ADHD as a disabling condition in the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program under Social Security is in jeopardy.

CHADD needs your help to identify families who have used SSI payments to cover expenses related to their child’s ADHD and would be willing to come to Washington and talk to Congressional staff about the importanc e of this program. CHADD will pay their travel expenses and will help to prepare parents for these meetings.

If you know any families who have received SSI for their children with ADHD, please share this information with them and ask if they would help us to save this crucial program.

Then have them contact us directly, or send their contact information to us, at (301/ 306-7070 x 133) or (304/ 562-3507).

Soleil or I will let the families know what we need, the support CHADD will provide, and what the issues are. We are particularly looking for families who are constituents of the following members of Congress:


Scott Brown (R-MA)
Tom Coburn (R-OK)
Max Baucus (D-MT)
Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
Olympia Snowe (R- ME)
John McCain (R-AZ)


Richard Neal (D-MA, 2nd District)
Geoff Davis (R-KY, 4th District)
Lloyd Doggett (D-TX, 25th District)


In addition, CHADD will spearhead a broader call-in campaign about this issue soon, so be on the lookout for further announcements.

Background Information

Right now some Congressional leaders are questioning the inclusion of ADHD as a disability in the Supplemental Security Income program under Social Security. Last summer, the Boston Globe ran a series of articles suggesting that low-income families were having their children purposefully diagnosed with ADHD and giving them medication so that they could get SSI payments, implying that a fair amount of fraud was taking place and that a number of children were being misdiagnosed with ADHD and wrongly placed on medication. This has led to the current questions among legislators about ADHD and the SSI program and prompted a letter to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) requesting an investigation that is particularly focused on ADHD, depression, and other mental impairments.

While CHADD doesn’t condone fraud, the Globe articles presented no hard evidence that there is fraud in SSI-only anecdotes-and the number of children who are approved for SSI for ADHD is fairly small, given current knowledge of the incidence of ADHD. In order to be eligible for SSI, a child must have a diagnosis of ADHD (or another disability) and meet very restrictive functional criteria and income guidelines. SSI is meant to be reserved for those in financial need with the most severe impairment. Recent SSI data showed that nearly 71 percent of children applying for SSI for ADHD were denied approval, ranking ADHD in the lowest quartile of approval rates for childhood mental disorders.

CHADD is very concerned that policy makers question ADHD’s legitimacy as a disabling condition and is planning a number of visits with the staff of key leaders in Congress. The visits will include CHADD CEO Ruth Hughes, clinical/research experts, and families of children with ADHD. We hope to underscore several important points in these visits:

  • ADHD is a mainly inherited, neurobiological disorder that is recognized by all of the major medical organizations, the National Institutes of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control. To receive a diagnosis of ADHD, a child must show significant impairment in the ability to function in at least two areas of life. Stimulant medication has been clinically proven to be a safe and effective treatment for ADHD symptoms. Without proper treatment, ADHD can have serious consequences, such as school failure, family stress and disruption, depression, social problems, substance abuse, delinquent behavior, accidental injuries, driving accidents, teen pregnancy, and job failure.
  • Functional impairment from ADHD can vary, depending on the severity of symptoms and the presence of co-occurring disorders. Only those with financial need and the most severe impairment are eligible for the SSI program.
  • SSI payments provide assistance to low-income children and families to help offset real expenses that are necessary for caring for a child with ADHD, such as counseling and support services, transportation, babysitting, loss of parental income, etc.
    In addition to Congressional visits, CHADD is also working with a much larger coalition of groups concerned with children’s mental health to advocate for the continued inclusion of ADHD in the SSI program. We will do all we can to fight any changes that would hurt families and children with ADHD.

CHADD will cover families’ travel expenses to come to Washington, plan all the visits to Capitol Hill, and help prepare parents for these meetings. We anticipate that the visits will take place soon, in mid- to late July. If you know a family who has used the SSI program, please forward this information to them and encourage them to get in touch with Ruth or Soleil as soon as possible. If your own family has used SSI, please consider helping us. This program is much too important to let misconceptions continue that could result in ADHD being removed as a qualifying condition under SSI and Social Security. Time is of the essence, so please respond quickly to at or

Thank you for all you do for CHADD and for individuals with ADHD.


Ruth Hughes, PhD
(301) 306-7070 x133