Borderline intellectual functioning is a cognitive condition characterized by Intelligent Quotient scores (71-84) which fall below the average intelligence quotient scores. In other words or less scientific terms, borderline intelligence refers to a cognitive disability that applies to individuals who possess lower intellectual abilities than the usual but do not have an Intellectual disorder (mental retardation). According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Mental Disorders (DSM) and the International Classification of Diseases (ICD), borderline intellectual functioning is not a disorder; however, it undeniably renders people vulnerable. Common causes of Borderline Intellectual functioning include genetic and epigenetic factors, socioeconomic status, environmental toxins, infections and maternal stress. Children with BIF are usually at risk for developing of receiving poor parental care; due to the importance of sensitive and positive parenting for adaptive regulatory capabilities, children are generally at risk at a young age. In school, they are perceived as slow learners; they tend to drop out of school and have to cope with low self-esteem and consequently mental illness. Adults with borderline intellectual functioning experience problems in adaptive functioning and typically have difficulties in learning, reasoning, abstract thinking, and judging. Psychological, pharmacological, and educational approaches can help improve the condition and help people lead improved lives. 

Getting disability benefits for Borderline Intellectual Functioning 

Social Security lists BIF as one of the conditions that qualify an individual for disability benefits. In 2017, Social Security released a new listing covering borderline intellectual functioning. It includes a listing of neurodevelopmental disorders (disorders a person has had since childhood) and neurocognitive disorders (disorders a person developed in adulthood). The listing requires that applicants should have significant difficulties learning, and must show extreme (at least one) or marked limitations (at least two) in the following areas: 

  • Understanding or using information  
  • Concentrating on tasks 
  • Interacting with others 
  • Managing oneself 

Usually, people with an IQ below 70 are the ones to experience extreme difficulties in using or comprehending information. More often, applicants experience marked limitations in learning and understanding, and one other area (perhaps social interaction or managing oneself). Noteworthy is the fact that these requirements also apply to children with borderline intellectual functioning. 

Getting a Medical Vocational Allowance for Borderline Intellectual Functioning 

If you have a severe limitation in only one of the areas (above) and meet the disability listing, you may still get disability benefits. It is more likely, however, that you will qualify if you have an additional physical or mental impairment. The SSA will have you fill a functional report, and using your information it will decide if you can gain employment for full-time work. The RFC assessment will help the SSA develop your mental RFC and physical RFC. In developing a mental RFC, the SSA will assess your ability to follow instructions, supervise and train, and interact with others. A physical RFC, however, will determine your skills to carry out work-related activities based on your physical limitations. You should endeavor to provide the SSA with all your medical information including tests, results, and treatments. You should make sure to include your IQ test scores and the standard deviation of the test used. It is essential to work in tandem with your disability lawyer and treating physician to get proper documentation and increase your chances of winning.