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  • How Autism Spectrum Disorders affects life insurance
  • March 23, 2015
  • How does Autism Spectrum Disorders affect life insurance?By Karla Sullivan

    Every day, millions of Americans living with autism and their families face difficult challenges that many of us will never fully understand. Even when applying for life insurance later in life, the severity of autism spectrum disorders can affect acceptance and premium. In order to better understand the difficulties that these individuals deal with on a daily basis, the month of April is dedicated to spreading awareness about autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that 1 in 68 children in the United States has been identified with ASD. It is clear that autism affects the lives of millions of Americans – our friends, neighbors, colleagues and family members.

    Asperger’s Syndrome and Rett Syndrome fall under the list of autism spectrum disorders. Asperger’s has just recently been identified so statistics are not specific. But, Asperger’s is common and considered a mild case of autism. While Rett Syndrome is extremely rare, it is a severe brain disorder that affects girls. Only about one in 10,000 to 15,000 will develop this genetic disorder.

    According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, autism is a development disability, in varying degrees, by persistent difficulties in social communications and restrictive and repetitive behaviors, interests, or activities.

    Like many other types of health conditions, early screening and intervention at younger ages helps children get the most effective treatments earlier in life. In most cases, children are diagnosed at the age of four; however, the CDC states that signs can be identified as early as two years old.

    An autism spectrum disorder can last through adulthood since there is no cure. But, treatment is available through medication, behavior modification and special education. As adults, how does ASD affect life insurance underwriting? Depending on the severity of the disorder, underwriters first look at IQ, intelligent quotient, which is divided into Mild, Moderate, Severe and Profound.

    • IQ 70: Mild
    • IQ 50-70: Moderate
    • IQ 35-49: Severe
    • IQ below 35: Profound

    If they are “Higher Functioning Autism” or Asperger’s (with an IQ of 70 or greater as above) and have no other behavioral problems, mental disorders or epilepsy, they may qualify for Standard. If they are “higher functioning” but have a mental/ behavioral disorder or epilepsy, then it will be sub-standard. If it is Mild/Moderate in severity then they will be table rated and if there is additional mental/behavioral disorders and/or epilepsy, they are going to be high table rated.

    If it is Severe/Profound, it would be a decline. Also regardless of “severity,” if there is severe motor impairment, that will be a decline as well.

    It is important to consider the extent to which the individual is living and working independently, including any time off work, especially when considering disability benefits. Someone who is working, living independently and not missing a lot of work is the best candidate.

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