Tourette's Syndrome and Social Security Disability

Tourette’s syndrome is a genetic neuropsychiatric disorder which usually manifests during childhood. Its main symptoms are involuntary physical and vocal tics (intermittent, unpredictable movements and/or sounds). These tics may be chronic or transient. They most common types of tics associated with Tourette’s syndrome include:

  • Sudden (and usually unexplained) obscene or insulting outbursts
  • Coughing
  • Blinking
  • Unusual facial movements
  • Clearing the throat compulsively
  • Sniffing
  • Grunting
  • Shouting
  • Barking
  • Biting
  • Sniffing
  • Kissing
  • Jumping
  • Twirling
  • Touching

Tourette’s syndrome often manifests alongside other disorders, the most common being:

In some cases, medication helps suppress the symptoms of Tourette’s syndrome, but there is no known cure. Therapy and education are also effective in treating many people with Tourette’s.

How to Apply for Social Security Disability with Tourette's

Tourette’s syndrome is not listed in the Social Security Administration’s Blue Book (the guide used to help SSA representatives determine whether a person qualifies for disability based on their condition). This doesn’t mean that you can’t qualify for disability benefits. It does mean that you will need to prove that your condition is equivalent to a condition which is listed in its effects on your ability to perform work. Alternately, you can prove that your condition affects your residual functional capacity (ability to perform job related tasks) so severely that you cannot reasonably be expected to work.

As with any other condition, to claim disability based on Tourette’s, you must have medical documentation which verifies that you have been diagnosed with a disabling condition and that the condition has lasted or is expected to last at least one year.

The SSA will consider the effects of Tourette’s (and any other disabling conditions) on both your physical and mental/emotional/social ability to function on a jobsite. When making your claim, make sure that you include all ways in which Tourette’s affects your daily life. You will especially want to include information which effects:

  • Your ability to perform physical work. Often, physical tics make it unsafe to perform physical jobs, especially those which require working with machinery. They may also make it impossible to perform sedentary jobs which require the use of fine motor skills.
  • Your ability to concentrate or perform mental work. Your ability to concentrate is important for most types of work.
  • Your hand to eye coordination and manual dexterity. Tics which affect your hand to eye coordination or manual dexterity can make it difficult to perform even light or sedentary work.
  • Your ability to function in social environments. Tics which make it difficult to function with other people around have a bearing on what types of work (if any) you can reasonably be expected to perform.

The claims and appeals process for Social Security disability is long. Most claims are denied, leaving the claimant with the choice of dropping his claim or pursuing a long appeals process. Claims are more likely to be approved during the appeals process, but there is still no guarantee of approval.

Your Tourette's Social Security Disability Case

Your best chance of being awarded Social Security disability benefits for Tourette’s syndrome is to contact a local Social Security disability lawyer. Claimants who have legal representation are approved twice as often as unrepresented claimants.

You have the right to legal representation. By law, your Social Security lawyer will only charge you after you have been awarded benefits. In most cases, all of your lawyer’s fees are paid directly by the SSA. They come out of the back pay to which you are entitled. Because legal fees are handled this way in Social Security disability cases, you will be able to keep all of your ongoing benefits after they are awarded.