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Social Security Disability Definitions

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Social Security Back Pay and the disability award notice

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Social Security Disability SSI List of Conditions

What is considered a Disabling condition by Social Security?

Social Security Disability SSI and Medical Evidence

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Facts about Down Syndrome and Filing for Disability

How to prove you are disabled
and win disability benefits

1. Down syndrome is a condition in which a third copy of the 21st chromosome causes limited cognitive ability and developmental delays.

2. Having an additional 21st chromosome in every cell is also called trisomy 21. More than 90 percent of all Down syndrome cases are trisomy 21. This condition occurs in about one of every 900 children born worldwide.

3. John Langdon Down first described the condition and its characteristics in 1866, giving it the name.

4. Down syndrome is considered a developmental disability; it involves differences and delays in cognitive and physical ability as well as appearance. Developmental disabilities are usually mild to moderate, and severe disability is rare.

5. Down syndrome is the most common severe learning disability from a genetic condition.

6. Distinctive physical features for those with an extra 21st chromosome include a small chin, rounded face, oversized tongue, almond shaped eyes, short limbs, one crease instead of two on the palms, and extra space between first and second toes.

7. Children with Down syndrome are often abnormally flexible and have low muscle tone.

8. Another type of Down syndrome is mosaic down syndrome, where there is an extra 21st chromosome in some but not all cells. This is very rare.

9. The older the mother the higher the likelihood Down syndrome will develop in a fetus. This increase generally begins in the early to mid 30s and increases into the 40s. More younger women have children with Down syndrome because more women under 35 are having babies. After having one child with Down syndrome, the greater the likelihood is that another child will also have the condition.

10. Life expectancy for an individual with Down syndrome has increased greatly over the last century from 10 in 1929 to 50 or older today. Better understanding, tactics for early intervention and better health care have all contributed to this increase.

Can you qualify for disability benefits with this condition?

Whether or not you qualify for disability and, as a result, are approved for disability benefits will depend entirely on the information obtained from your medical records. This includes whatever statements may have been obtained from your treating physician (a doctor who has a history of treating your condition and is, therefore, qualified to comment as to your condition and prognosis).

It will also depend on the information obtained from your vocational, or work, history if you are an adult, or academic records if you are a minor-age child. The important thing to keep in mind is that the social security administration does not award benefits based on simply having a condition, but, instead, will base an approval or denial on the extent to which a condition causes functional limitations. Functional limitations can be great enough to make work activity not possible (or, for a child, make it impossible to engage in age-appropriate activities).

Why are so many disability cases lost at the disability application and reconsideration appeal levels?

Speaking as a former Disability Claims Examiner, I can state that there are several reasons:

1) Social Security makes no attempt to obtain a statement from a claimant's treating physician. By contrast, at the hearing level, a claimant and his or her disability attorney will generally obtain and present this type of statement to a judge;

2) Prior to the hearing level, a claimant will not have the opportunity to explain how their condition limits them, nor will their attorney or representative have the opportunity to make a presentation based on the evidence of the case. At the hearing level, of course, this is exactly what happens. And a number of disability representatives will also take such steps even earlier, at the reconsideration appeal level;

3) Disability judges, unlike disability examiners who decides cases at the first two levels of the system, can make independent decisions without being overturned by immediate supervisors--which happens frequently.

Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions

Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions

Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The Disability Decision Process and What gets taken into Consideration | Getting Denied for Disability Benefits | Questions about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | Social Security Disability Hearings | Social Security Medical Examinations | Social Security SSI Doctors | Social Security Disability Representation | Social Security Disability SSI Reviews