SSDI for Huntington's DiseaseIf you have a genetic or inherited disorder, you may wonder if you qualify for disability benefits. A simple diagnosis is not enough to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). This is because conditions can affect people to varying degrees. But, if your condition stops you from being able to work, you may be eligible to receive SSDI. You must meet certain qualifying criteria to be eligible. 

Before applying for SSDI, speak with a Social Security disability lawyer. They can answer any questions you may have. The legal team at Keefe Disability Law has handled Social Security cases for years and will do our best to help get your application approved. 

Social Security Disability Eligibility Requirements

When looking at your case, the Social Security Administration (SSA) may start with a diagnosis. This is mainly for classification purposes. It provides context for a medical condition. But, a single diagnosis is not enough for approval on its own. Instead, you must meet two of the main criteria which are:

  • You are so disabled that you cannot work.
  • The disability is expected to last at least 12 months or end in death.

You also must be able to present enough medical evidence to prove you are disabled. This may include doctor’s reports and medical testing. The evidence must come from acceptable medical sources. The SSA is not concerned with the cause of the disability, necessarily. It may look at the cause as a factor in predicting your outcome. You may not qualify for benefits if you are expected to heal from a physical injury in a few months.

Whether you are born with a condition or develop a disability later in life isn’t relevant. What matters is how the condition affects your capacity to work. Many genetic or inherited disorders can affect motor, sensory, and psychological functions. Physical and mental impairments can impact if you are able to work.

SSDI Non-Medical Criteria to Qualify for Benefits

The severity of your disability is a major factor for eligibility. Social Security Disability Insurance is also based on your work history. You must have enough work credits to qualify. You earn credits through employment and self-employment. You must have contributed to Social Security through these jobs. Typically, this comes off your paycheck as a payroll deduction.

The number of work credits you need to qualify for SSDI varies with age. Speak with a Social Security disability attorney to determine how this applies to your case.

Examples of Genetic Disorders That May Qualify

For eligibility, your condition may need to meet an SSA Blue Book listing. If your genetic disorder is not listed, you may still qualify. To do this, you must prove you are disabled and unable to work. The severity of the condition is more relevant than the specific diagnosis. Valid medical evidence must support your claim. 

Some examples of disorders that may qualify for SSDI include:

  • Huntington’s disease. This degenerative brain disorder causes nerve cells to break down. Patients may have physical, mental, and sensory problems. They may have muscle problems, like involuntary jerking. They may also struggle with controlling impulses or suffer from low energy. 
  • Down syndrome. Also called trisomy-21, this genetic disorder is due to having an extra chromosome. People with Down syndrome may have several developmental and intellectual delays. Some may also suffer from physical disorders, like congenital heart defects.
  • Cystic fibrosis. This is listed in Section 3.00 among conditions affecting the adult respiratory system. People with cystic fibrosis can have a hard time breathing. They may suffer from chronic lung infections. If severe enough, it may impair someone’s ability to work. 
  • Muscular dystrophy. This is marked by progressive muscle weakness and degeneration. Muscular dystrophy is a group of genetic disorders. Types include Duchenne and Becker. Physical limitations can prevent someone from doing their job. This can affect both gross and fine motor control. 
  • Fragile X syndrome. Like Down syndrome, this inherited disorder affects intellectual ability too. The inherited condition can also lead to changes in behavior. People with Fragile X may have a hard time learning and interacting with people. 

How to Improve Your Chances for Approval

Making your way through a Social Security application can be difficult. It is not something you want to handle on your own. It can be a confusing process. The SSA denies many applications. To help you get approved for SSDI, it’s advisable to work with a Social Security disability lawyer. 

The team at Keefe Disability Law can help you put together the strongest case possible. Your disability attorney will help gather the medical evidence you need, for example. They can also handle communications with the SSA. And, if necessary, they can represent you during an appeals process. An honest, complete application has a better chance of approval.

Patrick Hartwig
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Managing Attorney, Keefe Disability Law
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