Learning vs. Intellectual Disabilities: What’s the Difference?

Many people think that knowing about disabilities is just for doctors or specialists. But did you know it could mean more money in your pocket? In the U.S., there’s a program called SSDI. It gives money to people who can’t work because of certain medical problems. You might think you don’t qualify, but you could be wrong. Learning the differences between intellectual and learning disabilities might mean over $3,000 each month. Don’t count yourself out too early!

Why Knowing the Difference Between Intellectual and Learning Disabilities Could be Worth Thousands

Understanding the difference in disabilities could literally mean a difference of over $3,000 a  month. That’s because there are programs like Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) that can provide monthly support to those that qualify. The funds people get can go towards anything they want. However, a lot of people automatically think their disability situation doesn’t qualify, but they may be selling themselves short. 

Understanding SSDI

The SSDI program gives money to people who can’t work because of a serious medical problem. You must have worked and paid Social Security taxes for a certain time to get this money. The U.S. government runs the program, and the health problem must be serious, lasting at least a year or be expected to cause death. That means to get these benefits, you can’t have a partial or short-term disability. You must also meet the government’s rules for disability and be younger than retirement age. If you get disability benefits, some of your family members might also qualify. Studies show that a young worker has a 1-in-4 chance of becoming disabled before retiring.

Learning vs. Intellectual Disabilities

The complexity of intellectual disabilities is such that they span a broad spectrum, ranging from mild to profound. Each level presents its unique challenges and demands distinct support mechanisms. In the world of intellectual disabilities, severe cases often come into light right after birth or during infancy. Developmental milestones may also lag behind – sitting up, crawling, babbling could all take longer than usual.

Learning disabilities are a special group of disorders that have no direct association with an individual’s intelligence. Rather, they relate to the brain’s difficulty in comprehending certain academic information. This can lead to difficulties such as avoiding reading tasks or mispelling common words. The signs associated with learning disorders often become evident when a child starts school. 

SSDI Eligibility for Learning and Intellectual Disabilities

Social Security recognizes learning disabilities like dyslexia (reading problems) and dyscalculia (math problems) as medical conditions that can be considered disabilities. In fact, even ADHD gets chalked up as a disability. That’s because these conditions meet the SSDI guidelines for neurodevelopmental disabilities that qualify. These guidelines include:

  • Issues with Attention: This can be frequent distractibility, trouble focusing on tasks, or hyperactive and impulsive behavior like not being able to sit still, talking too much, or acting restless.
  • Learning Challenges: This includes significant problems learning and using academic skills, or repetitive motor movements or vocalizations.

Types of Disabilities that Qualify for SSDI

There are a lot of different disabilities that meet the criteria for SSDI. A lot of them are common, which means they may be something that your household deals with. Some areas include:

  • General Category for Mental Health Issues
  • Disorders Affecting Thinking and Memory
  • Conditions Related to Schizophrenia and Other Severe Mental Disorders
  • Disorders Related to Mood Such as Depression and Bipolar Disorder
  • Conditions Affecting Intellectual Abilities
  • Disorders Related to Anxiety and Obsessive Thoughts or Behaviors
  • Disorders Related to Physical Symptoms Without a Clear Medical Cause
  • Disorders Related to Personality and Lack of Control Over Impulses
  • Disorders Related to Autism
  • Conditions Affecting Brain Development
  • Disorders Related to Eating Habits
  • Conditions Affecting Development in Babies and Young Children
  • Disorders Related to Trauma and Stress

Understanding what qualifies for SSDI is crucial. For instance, mental health disorders like depression and anxiety might qualify if they severely impact daily life. Disabilities related to eating habits or developmental conditions in babies can also be considered. Knowing these details can broaden your understanding of what SSDI covers. It encourages people to explore their options, consult with professionals, and apply if they meet the criteria. This knowledge may lead to much-needed financial support for many.


Knowing the difference between intellectual and learning disabilities is vital. It could mean getting support worth over $3,000 a month. SSDI helps people who can’t work because of a serious medical problem. But many people think they don’t qualify. Learning about the rules can help. Intellectual disabilities are complex. Learning disabilities affect how the brain understands information. Both kinds of problems can qualify for SSDI. Social Security considers many issues like dyslexia, ADHD, and more. Many common disorders can get you help. Understanding these facts can help you or a loved one get needed support.

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