February 3, 2015
The Social Security Disability attorneys from Disability Associates discuss benefits filing for those affected by Down syndrome.
If you or someone you know is affected by Down syndrome, there are important factors that need be taken into account when applying for Social Security benefits. The following considerations can make it a much smoother and efficient process.
Qualifying for Disability with Non-Mosaic Down Syndrome
95 to 99 percent of people diagnosed with Down syndrome have “non-mosaic” Down syndrome, where every cell has an extra 21st chromosome.
If a person has a diagnosis of non-mosaic Down syndrome, he or she automatically qualifies as disabled under Social Security Administration (SSA) guidelines. The SSA considers children with non-mosaic Down syndrome to be disabled from birth. If the applicant with Down syndrome has had karyotype chromosomal analysis completed and can provide the SSA with a copy of the lab report, the applicant may meet the SSA’s requirements for approval.
If the applicant does not have a chromosomal analysis available, the applicant must ask their doctor to provide a statement that says the applicant holds physical features typical of Down syndrome.
Qualifying for Disability with Mosaic Down Syndrome
Mosaic Down syndrome occurs when some cells have an extra 21st chromosome and some have a normal number of chromosomes. Those with mosaic Down syndrome tend to have higher IQs and often are able to function at higher levels.
Unfortunately, the SSA does not have a specific disability listing for mosaic Down syndrome, so a diagnosis of mosaic Down syndrome alone is not enough to qualify for benefits.
The severity of impairments with mosaic Down syndrome can vary widely from person-to-person. Because of this, the SSA requires the applicant to prove he or she has specific mental/physical impairments. The applicant will be evaluated by the SSA. Some common mental/physical impairments associated with mosaic Down syndrome include:
- Mental retardation
- Hearing loss
- Sleep-related breathing disorders
- Thyroid disorders
- Congenital heart disease
Qualifying for Disability as a Child with Down Syndrome
The SSA may find a child disabled if the child has a mental/physical condition that is marked with “severe functional limitations” that must last at least 12 months or be expected to result in death. These are the same criteria as for adult applicants.
A child can receive benefits through the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, just as an adult can. Under the SSI program, disabled individuals with limited resources and income receive monthly payments.
A child may also receive benefits from Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) only when their parent is disabled and collects SSDI benefits. SSDI is available only to disabled people over 18 who have been employed for a certain length of time and have paid Social Security taxes.
Keep in mind that a child does not have to be disabled to receive dependents’ benefits for a disabled parent. If the child is not disabled, the benefits will generally end when the child turns 18. However, if the disability began before the child was 22 and the child has a parent who is receiving SSDI or Social Security retirement benefits, the benefits can continue after the child turns 18.
Understanding the different Social Security Disability options available to families affected by Down syndrome can make planning for the application process easier. It is vital to understand the varying programs and the information they will require from applicants. For more information on which program may be the best fit, contact the attorneys at Disability Associates today.