Adult Learning Disability Assessment Process

If you are an adult and suspect that you have a learning disability (LD) you may be at a loss about how to obtain testing and the assessment process. This article will explain what is a learning disability assessment for adults, why should someone be assessed, who can conduct an assessment, how much an assessment might cost and what are the questions to ask a qualified assessor. It is important to choose a qualified professional to conduct the assessment so that it can be done thoroughly and assure that you obtain the accommodations necessary in school and in the workplace.
Psychologist talking to patient

What is a learning disability assessment for adults?

An LD assessment is a gathering of relevant information about an individual’s areas of strengths and challenges to determine whether or not he or she may have a learning disability. The components of the assessment process may vary depending on which individual, clinic, or agency is conducting the assessment, but most assessments include the following:

  • Screening (informal interview, brief test, career interest inventories, and/or review of medical, school, or work histories)
  • Evaluation (formal testing for achievement, intelligence, and processing)
  • Diagnosis (a statement specifying the results of the assessment, including the type of LD identified)
  • Recommendations (for work, school, and/or daily living)

Why should someone be assessed?

Adults choose to undergo an LD assessment for a number of reasons, including:

  • Significant problems at work or school that prevent them from reaching their career and/or educational goals
  • Significant problems in daily life ( e.g., relationships, managing finances, decision-making)
  • A desire to know why they have always struggled to learn and remember information

The first step to overcoming challenges is to determine the cause of the challenges. By completing the LD assessment process, adults can obtain the information and documentation they need to formally request accommodations at work or in school, and to determine effective strategies for learning and living based on their areas of strengths.

Who can conduct an LD assessment?

Only qualified professionals can conduct LD assessments. Such professionals have been certified to select, administer, and interpret a variety of neurological, psychological, educational, and vocational assessment instruments. The professional chosen should:

  • Have experience assessing adults for LD
  • Have information about local and state services and resources
  • Be able to help adults use their assessment results to determine their legal rights and responsibilities, strategies, accommodations, and next steps to meet goals

To find a qualified professional in their area, adults should consider the following resources:

  • State and local LDA chapters
  • Community Mental Health Centers
  • Rehabilitation Services Agency (, click on “State Agencies/Contacts.”)
  • Local private psychologist or psychological clinic
  • Local college or university psychology department
  • University-affiliated hospitals and clinics

How much does an LD assessment cost?

The cost of an LD assessment varies depending on where it is conducted geographically, type of professional who administers the assessment, and the assessment’s  comprehensiveness. The cost of the assessments typically range between $500 – $2,500.

Some insurance policies will cover the cost of the assessment. Local mental health clinics and university psychology departments sometimes offer a sliding scale fee for the assessment. Vocational Rehabilitation agencies sometimes provide LD assessments at no cost as part of their intake process for agency applicants who are accepted as new clients.

Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) clients who have either a history of LD OR disclose to their case managers that they think they have LD have a right to an LD assessment as part of their TANF services.

Questions to ask the qualified assessor

  • Have you tested many adults with learning disabilities before?
  • How much will the assessment cost, and what does the cost cover?
    • Can insurance cover the costs?
    • Are there other funding sources?
    • Can you provide a payment plan?
  • How long will the assessment take?
  • What will be involved in the assessment?
  • Who will have access to the assessment results?
  • Will there be a written report of the assessment?
  • Will you explain the written report to me?
  • Will the assessment give me more information about why I am having trouble with my job, school, or daily life?
  • Will you give me ideas about accommodations for my disability?
  • Will you give me information about how to self-advocate for my disability at school or work?
  • Will the report make recommendations about where I can go for further help?

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Feel free to leave a comment below regarding this article. If you have a specific question for LDA, please contact us directly.


  1. Any help would be much appreciated. I have a 20 year old son who dropped out in 8th grade due to severe social phobia. Now he is doing better, does have a few diagnoses, I’ve seen lots of doctors and a social worker, but as far as his education I’m stuck. He never was on an iep, but he should have been. How can I help him get a g.e.d. with no schooling for years , he is in no way prepared to even take a test or the ability to even read more then a few questions. Who would be a good resource?

  2. My sister in law is intellectually disabled but was never assessed. She was born with the umbilical cord around her neck and was born blue, there was lack of oxygen obviously. Her parents attempted to mainstream her. They had her tested and said her iq is a few points under but they never said more due to embarrassment or image. She lives with her widowed mom. Now the mom is 86 can now longer care for herself or daughter. They are living in a house that can be condemned because they are hoarders. Now my husband and I are screwed, we need to move them closer to us so we can care for them. They are looking at 3000 square ft homes claiming this is what they are used to. Delusional. No telling the demented senior or low iq daughter it’s not reality, they are too far gone, they think their wealthy. So they won’t move. Our lawyers said we can only hope they have an accident at home and when the emergency help arrives, by law, they would have to report the living conditions. They have rats in the basement and raccoons in the attack. It’s not what we want but what else can be done? I don’t want them living with us.

    • LDA of America says

      If you’ve already in contact with a lawyer about your situation, there may be nothing more you can do except look for community resources for residential programs for people with developmental disabilities for the daughter and a nursing home for the mother. It sounds like you have a big problem to solve, but LDA does not provide resources for this kind of intervention.

  3. Thank you for this article. It gives me guidance on where to begin. I would like to know if taking medication for BiPolar will affect tests results?! I ask because I am in my early 60’s, who recently was diagnosed BiPolar, but I have always suspected I have a learning disability. I have always had extreme difficulty with math, reading comprehension, and remembering. This has been since grade school. I had to repeat two grades. I was never put in remedial classes, but believe I should have been.
    Thank you, again for the support your article provides.

    • LDA of America says

      It is usually recommended that you continue with your medication, even during an LD evaluation. However, you should speak directly to the professional conducting the LD evaluation about your medication and how it affects you before scheduling the assessment process.

  4. Hello- I am 48 years old struggled in school quit in 9th grade and got married which did not last long. Always new something was different about me but was ashamed to point it out. I worked a lot of waitress, cashier, etc jobs until I got married and had my son then I was a nanny/housekeeper for years. When my son was in second grade his teacher suggested he be tested for ADD so we went to a neurologist and as we were talking and testing it was like bam I have this so we both have been on Adderall since. I found a great job private home housekeeper when my son was starting 6th grade so we were able to put him in a private school which he gradated from. I lost my wonderful job and now set here feeling like a dummy lost. We can survive but I feel worthless you can not even get a job cleaning dog kennels with a GED. After doing some research I now feel like it is more then ADD. Only someone that is going thru the same thing could understand. Hoping I can find some help that doesn’t cost a lot since I do not have a job. Thanks

  5. Hi, I am 62 yo and cannot read. I have a 6th grade education. I live in Buffalo, NY. I want to learn to read. I am disabled, Mental impairment but stable and a nice guy. I have SSI and Medicaid. My daughter suggests I first get tested for possible learning disability. Can you recommend someplace that can test me for possible LD and will accept my insurance. Thank you for your help.

  6. Kalli Halpern says

    The learning disability i have is dyscalculia. I recently took a baseline test with a neuro psych. I am diagnosed with Major Cognitive loss and major neurological disorder . I think my learning disability affected the test results. Is there another way to test for a baseline.? The Psychologist said these disabilities may be early Dementia or early Alzheimer’s.
    Any information/feedback will be really appreciated.

    • LDA of America says

      Typically, people who have dyscalculia can request extra time and the use of a calculator during standardized testing, but for tests associated with diagnosing neurological disorders, accommodations may not be helpful for determining the baseline. You can ask your test evaluator whether or not it would be appropriate and/or effective to request and receive those kinds of accommodations during the neurological testing.

  7. Do any of you know if FSA can be used to pay for this testing?

    • LDA of America says

      Many insurance companies approve the use of FSA funds for an LD evaluation, but you should check with your insurance provider first to make sure that type of evaluation is covered as an “eligible” expense for using those funds.

  8. Hello. I am 57 yrs old and have been married to the same man for 21 years. While I am a clinical social worker & very insightful and perceptive, I am just realizing, after a lot of confusion, frustration and loneliness that my husband must have a learning disability. He, naturally, is unwilling to be evaluated; is there ANY way I can try to assess so I can understand it better?

    • LDA of America says

      If your husband is unwilling to be evaluated by a licensed professional, it will be difficult to determine if he has a specific learning disability. However, if he is having difficulty finding or maintaining a job, vocational rehabilitation could be suggested, and they would recommend an evaluation before they suggested a career path. Also, if you know of an adult that he admires who has a diagnosed LD, that person might be helpful in talking to him. To assess him yourself would be difficult. However, in general if he has some areas that he tends to excel in and other areas that he is extremely deficient in, chances are that he has some sort of a learning disability.

  9. Jermaine Jackson says

    Hello. I believe that the mother of my child has a problem. I think that it may be a Learning Disorder, but I don’t know. Will the “Adult Learning Disability Assessment Process” be able to identify (within reason) that a person’s problems may stem from something other than a Learning Disability…perhaps even a mental illness, etc.?

    Does the Evaluation (formal testing for achievement, intelligence, and processing) portion of the thesting generally include an I.Q. exam?

  10. I was always an average to slightly above average student. I always did pretty well in every subject except math. I am very “right brain oriented” and always struggled heavily in math because it’s so analytical and “left brain.” focused. Since I was an overall “B” student I always just assumed that I was struggling with math because I didn’t like it. I got very frustrated because I could never understand the logic behind the problems. Recently I went back to school and I am required to take another math class, and that feeling of anxiety and frustration returned. I began reading that it is possible to have a learning disability specifically in math. I wondered if that might apply to me. I mentioned that thought to my wife, who dismissed it because “math is just a weakness for you, doesn’t mean you have a learning disability.” I wonder if anyone else has a similar situation. I don’t whether I am just trying to rationalize my poor math skills or if there truly could be an underlying cause.

    • Maite Santos says

      Yes it is possible to have a math learning disability. There are many out there. Getting evaluated won’t hurt and if you discover there is a discrepancy in your math abilities, learning strategies for a specific need will really help you out.

    • Tori Griffey says

      You are not alone my friend. I excel at everything I do, except MATH. I have grown up believing, without a doubt I was just plain stupid because I can not do well in math, no matter how much I try. Im now in my third semester of higher ed. and I almost lost my student aid because I failed the “simple” math course, even though without that grade my GPA was 3.84. Real life is hard, get tested.

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