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Getting Social Security Benefits for Your Down Syndrome
Down Syndrome is characterized by a complex of physical characteristics, delayed physical development, and mental retardation. Down Syndrome exists in non-mosaic and mosaic forms. Social Security considers people who have confirmed non-mosaic Down Syndrome as disabled from birth. Down Syndrome is a condition in which there are three copies of chromosome 21 within the cells of the body instead of the normal two copies per cell. The three copies may be separate (trisomy), or one chromosome 21 copy may be attached to a different chromosome (translocation). This extra chromosomal material changes the orderly development of the body and brain.
Non-mosaic Down Syndrome occurs when you have an extra copy of chromosome 21 in every cell of your body. At least 98 percent of people with Down Syndrome have this form (which includes either trisomy or translocation type chromosomal abnormalities). Virtually all cases of non-mosaic Down Syndrome affect the mental, neurological, and skeletal systems, and they are often accompanied by heart disease, impaired vision, hearing problems, and other conditions.
Mosaic Down Syndrome occurs when you have some cells with the normal two copies of chromosome 21 and some cells with an extra copy of chromosome 21. When this occurs, there is a mixture of two types of cells. Mosaic Down Syndrome occurs in only 1-2 percent of people with Down Syndrome, and there is a wide range in the level of severity of the impairment. Mosaic Down Syndrome can be profound and disabling, but it can also be so slight as to be undetected clinically.
What documentation is required to establish that you have non-mosaic Down Syndrome?
Those affected by Down Syndrome may meet a Social Security Disability Administration Listing and thus qualify for benefits. Social Security differentiates between non-mosaic Down syndrome and mosaic Down syndrome. If you have non-mosaic down syndrome, meaning you have an extra chromosome in every cell of your body, you are considered disabled from the time of birth and can get benefits from the Social Security Administration. If you have mosaic Down syndrome, meaning some cells in your body have an extra chromosome and others are normal, then your symptoms of Down syndrome must significantly impair your ability to work. Further, the particular body parts that are affected by Down syndrome must be impaired in certain ways that meet the Social Security Criteria in order for you to receive benefits for non-mosaic Down syndrome.
Social Security evaluates each person's claim for benefits using the following five steps:
To resolve your case quickly and efficiently, get representation early. Jacoby & Meyers thanks the National Down Syndrome Society for contributing text to this publication. The mission of NDSS is to benefit people with Down syndrome and their families through national leadership in education, research and advocacy. For more information call (800) 221-4602 or visit www.ndss.org.
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