Doug enjoyed meeting people at the grocery store, where he had worked for several years. He had made many friends and enjoyed earning a paycheck. Doug was born with a common chromosomal disorder – Down Syndrome. Although Doug is able to work, many people with Down Syndrome cannot. Also, Down Syndrome combined with other disorders may make it impossible to engage in substantial gainful activity. If some people can support themselves, while others cannot, is it possible to qualify for disability benefits with Down Syndrome?
Eligibility for Disability Benefits
In addition to retirement benefits, the Social Security Administration manages two disability programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
People must have a disabling condition to qualify for SSDI, along with a certain number of work credits. However, there is no resource restriction as with other programs, like SSI.
A disabled person may be awarded SSI benefits, but only if his or her income and resources fall below the limits set by the SSA.
The question becomes whether someone with Down Syndrome qualifies for disability benefits like SSDI and SSI.
The Listing of Impairments for Down Syndrome
The SSA has a lengthy list of conditions that might qualify as disabilities. The Listing of Impairments (the “Listing”) also notes what evidence the SSA uses to determine the disability status of your condition.
Down Syndrome appears under Section 10.00 “Congenital Disorders that Affect Multiple Body Systems.” As with most conditions, the SSA wants to see copies of lab reports that prove you have the disabling condition in question.
What This Means for People with Down Syndrome
The SSA’s definition of disability includes the following language:
“… the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity (SGA) by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) which can be expected to result in death, or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.”
Down Syndrome should meet the criteria of lasting for 12 months. However, the disorder may or may not meet the “inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity” requirement. It’s true that people with Down Syndrome can work. But will they be able to support themselves without help.
It’s Complicated, so Give Us a Call.
Applying for either SSDI or SSI can be frustrating, especially if you are not sure your disability meets the SSA’s standards. It’s a good idea to have a knowledgeable legal representative helping every step of the way. Also, a child or adult with Down Syndrome may have to qualify for SSDI using a parent’s work record, since SSDI requires work credits.
The attorneys at The Law Offices of Martin Taller have helped many clients resolve SSI issues. For a free consultation, call us at 714-385-8100. Though our office is located in Anaheim, we assist clients throughout Southern California.