Down syndrome is a genetic disorder that affects mental, muscular and skeletal development. A small number of Down syndrome cases are mosaic, with the genetic abnormality only apparent in some cells. However, most cases are non-mosaic. Non-mosaic Down syndrome impacts every cell and can be highly debilitating. This condition can prevent victims from working gainfully or caring for themselves, as any Illinois disability attorney knows. Fortunately, Social Security Disability benefits may be available to people who have non-mosaic Down syndrome.
Automatic disability determination
The Social Security Administration automatically considers non-mosaic Down syndrome disabling. However, people seeking benefits must provide adequate medical evidence of the condition. The SSA requires one of the following forms of documentation:
- Karyotype analysis — a physician must sign the analysis or provide an accompanying statement that the person suffers from Down syndrome.
- A description of the analysis — if karyotype analysis was performed previously, a physician may give a statement describing it. The physician should also note any physical features the person has that support a diagnosis of Down syndrome.
- An independent report — in lieu of karyotype analysis, a physician may furnish a statement describing the person’s physical features. The statement should also include evidence that the person shows the same functional abilities as someone with Down syndrome.
If these criteria are met, a person qualifies as disabled on a medical level. However, as any Illinois disability attorney knows, other factors still affect a person’s eligibility for SSD benefits.
Non-medical SSD standards
SSD benefits are not available to people who perform substantial gainful activity. This is defined as work with monthly income exceeding a certain threshold, which changes annually. In 2015, the limit is $1,090.
A person also must have a sufficient earnings record to claim SSD benefits. Since non-mosaic Down syndrome is present from birth, people who suffer from this condition may not have adequate earnings. However, if a disabled child’s parent collects an SSD benefit, the child may collect a secondary benefit. A minor child may collect a dependent benefit. An adult who has been disabled since childhood may be entitled to an adult child’s benefit.
A person who does not meet the earnings requirement may still qualify for Supplemental Security Income payments. These benefits are based on need, rather than earnings, and they are available to both children and adults. People who are uncertain about eligibility for either program may benefit from speaking to an Illinois disability attorney. An attorney can offer clarification and advice on adequately documenting a claim under either program.