Down Syndrome and Qualifying for Social Security Disability Benefits
Does Down Syndrome Qualify for Disability Benefits?
Author Attorney Lloyd Bemis:
Approximately one in 700 babies born in the United States have Down Syndrome. Named after John Langdon Down, an English physician, Down Syndrome is a condition, not a disease, and it occurs in people of all races and economic levels.
Each cell of the body contains a nucleus where genetic material is stored.
The traits we inherit from our parents are carried by genes that group along rod shaped structures known as chromosomes. The nucleus of each cell contains 23 pairs of chromosomes, half inherited from a person’s mother and half inherited from their father. Down Syndrome occurs when an individual has an extra full or partial copy of chromosome 21. Physical traits commonly displayed by people with Down syndrome include a small stature, low muscle tone, an upward slant to the eyes and a single deep crease across the center of the palm. Each person is different, however, and may possess any of these characteristics to a different degree or not at all.
There are three types of Down syndrome:
- Trisomy 21.
- Mosaicism (or Mosaic Down syndrome).
This type of Down syndrome is caused by an error in cell division called nondisjunction and results in an embryo with three copies of chromosome 21 instead of two. Prior to or at conception a pair of 21st chromosomes in the sperm or egg fails to separate and the chromosome is replicated in every body cell. Trisomy 21 accounts for 95% of Down syndrome cases.
This type of Down syndrome results when two types of cells are mixed; some cells have 46 chromosomes while others have 47. Cells with 47 chromosomes have an extra chromosome 21. Mosaic Down syndrome is the least common form of Down syndrome and accounts for only 1% of cases. Individuals with Mosaic Down syndrome possess fewer of the common characteristics displayed by individuals with other types of Down syndrome.
Contact a Social Security disability attorney at 512-454-4000 for a free consultation and see if you can get disability benefits while suffering from Down Syndrome. If you have been denied disability don’t give up!
This type of Down syndrome occurs in 4% of cases. The total number of chromosomes present is 46, but an additional full or partial chromosome 21 attaches to another chromosome, usually chromosome 14, resulting in the characteristics of Down syndrome.
The cause of Down syndrome is still unknown and the only factor that has been linked to Down syndrome is maternal age.
A 35-year-old woman has 1 chance in 350 of giving birth to a baby with Down syndrome, while a woman who is 40 years old has 1 chance in 100. When a woman reaches 45 years of age, the probability increases to 1 in 30. However, due to higher birth rates in younger women, 80% of babies with Down syndrome are born to women under 35. As more couples delay parenthood, the incidence of Down syndrome is expected to increase.
Down syndrome is diagnosed at birth but can also be diagnosed prenatally.
There is an extensive menu of prenatal screening including blood tests and ultrasound which estimate the possibility that a child will have Down syndrome. Diagnostic tests such as amniocentesis and CVS (chorionic villus sampling) are definitive with 100% accuracy but carry a 1% chance of miscarriage. Also, the physical traits of Down syndrome can be present in babies who do not have Down syndrome, so a chromosomal analysis called a karyotype is performed in which a baby’s cells are examined to make a determination.
The Social Security Administration recognizes Down syndrome as an impairment under Section 10.00:
10.00 Congenital Disorders that Affect Multiple Body Systems
- Which disorder do we evaluate under this body system? Although Down syndrome exists in non-mosaic and mosaic forms, we evaluate only non-mosaic Down syndrome under this body system.
- What is non-mosaic Down syndrome? Non-mosaic Down syndrome is a genetic disorder. Most people with non-mosaic Down syndrome have three copies of chromosome 21 in all of their cells (chromosome 21 trisomy); some have an extra copy of chromosome 21 attached to a different chromosome in all of their cells (chromosome 21 translocation). Virtually all people with non-mosaic Down syndrome have characteristic facial or other physical features, delayed physical development, and intellectual disability. People with non-mosaic Down syndrome may also have congenital heart disease, impaired vision, hearing problems, and other disorders. We evaluate non-mosaic Down syndrome under 10.06. If you have non-mosaic Down syndrome documented as described in 10.00C, we consider you disabled from birth.
10.06 Non-mosaic Down syndrome, (chromosome 21 trisomy or chromosome 21 translocation), documented by:
- A laboratory report of karyotype analysis signed by a physician, or both a laboratory report of karyotype analysis not signed by a physician and a statement by a physician that you have Down syndrome (see 10.00C1).
- A physician’s report stating that you have chromosome 21 trisomy or chromosome 21 translocation consistent with prior karyotype analysis with the distinctive facial or other physical features of Down syndrome (see 10.00C2a).
- A physician’s report stating that you have Down syndrome with the distinctive facial or other physical features and evidence demonstrating that you function at a level consistent with non-mosaic Down syndrome (see 10.00C2b).
The small percentage of people diagnosed with “mosaic” Down syndrome tend to have a higher IQ than individuals with non-mosaic Down syndrome and may not be considered disabled.
Even though people with mosaic Down syndrome may suffer from the same impairments as people with non-mosaic Down syndrome, a diagnosis of mosaic Down syndrome is not enough to qualify for Social Security benefits. Instead, an individual with mosaic Down syndrome will be evaluated under the disability listings that fit their impairment(s) such as congenital heart disease, thyroid disorders, hearing loss, sleep-related breathing disorders or thyroid disorders.
People with Down syndrome possess a wide range of abilities and are becoming increasingly integrated in society through schools, employment and recreational activities. Due to advances in medical treatment, 80% of adults with Down syndrome live to age 60. If you have Down syndrome and it has impacted your ability to work, you may be eligible for Social Security benefits. If you have applied for benefits and been denied, contact the attorneys at Bemis, Roach and Reed for a free consultation. Call 512-454-4000 and get help NOW.
Author: Attorney Lloyd Bemis has been practicing law for over 35 years. He is Superlawyers rated by Thomson Reuters and is Top AV Preeminent® and Client Champion Gold rated by Martindale Hubbell. Through his extensive litigation Mr. Bemis obtained dual board certifications from the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Lloyd is admitted to practice in the United States District Court - all Texas Districts and has argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit. Mr. Bemis is a member of the Travis County Bar Association. He has been active in the American Association for Justice and is a past Director of the Capital Area Trial Lawyers Association. Mr. Bemis and all the members of Bemis, Roach & Reed have been active participants in the Travis County Lawyer referral service.
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