Achondroplasia, which is a type of dwarfism, causes short stature. Individuals with this condition are less than five feet tall, have shortened legs and arms, a protruding jaw, bowed legs, broad feet, a large prominent forehead, and a longer trunk. Achondroplasia is a relatively rare condition which an estimated one in 26,000 to 40,000 reported occurrences.
Causes of Achondroplasia
Scientist report there are two possible causes of Achondroplasia- a genetic mutation in the fibroblast growth factor receptor 3 (FGFR3) gene located on chromosome 4 or inheriting the condition (i.e., there is a 50% chance of inheriting the gene if one parent has the condition). Studies indicate, however, that most of the individuals with this condition have parents which are average-sized, which indicates that its more common to get Achondroplasia from a mutation in the genes.
Social Security Disability Insurance and Achondroplasia
Recently on our disability forum a user asked, I was born with Achondroplasia. I have had some difficulty finding work. Can I qualify for SSDI benefits with my condition?
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits are offered to complaints who have a severe mental or physical health condition and are not able to perform substantial gainful activity for at least 12 continuous months. To qualify for SSDI benefits claimants must also have sufficient credits to be considered insured for SSDI. Claimants with insufficient work credits will be denied benefits regardless of the severity of their health condition.
Whether or not a person with Achondroplasia will be considered disabled will depend on whether they are able to perform SGA.
Medically Qualifying with Achondroplasia
To determine whether a claimant with Achondroplasia will qualify for SSDI benefits the SSA will determine whether their condition meets or equals a disability listing or they have a severe functional impairment which eliminates their ability to work. Functional impairments can be caused not only by the condition in question but from the totality of all the medical complications associated with Achondroplasia.
Children with Achondroplasia may qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI benefits) for short stature. For more information about this listing you can review Section 100.02 in the SSA Blue Book (a list of conditions the SSA considers automatically disabling).
When children receiving SSI benefits become adults, however, they may lose their SSI benefits if they cannot meet the adult disability requirements.
Proving disability as an adult with Achondroplasia
The SSA does not have an adult listing for short stature. Their belief is that short stature alone does not limit an adults ability to work. There is evidence that the SSA is correct because there are many little people who are employed and successfully earning a living.
So how can you earn SSDI benefits with Achondroplasia?
To win benefits with Achondroplasia as an adult, claimants generally will have to prove they have complications associated with their condition which meet or equal another listing.
For example, some claimants have severe disorders of the spine, which can be evaluated under Listing 1.04 Disorders of the spine. Other claimants may have severe heart complications which can be evaluated under Section 4.00 Cardiovascular. Other common complications which may also reduce a claimants ability to work, including hearing and vision loss, arthritis, and sleep apnea.
No one denies that adults with a short stature may face challenges finding employment. Courts have also not yet agreed on whether dwarfism is a disability, as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). If this determination is made we may see employers establishing stronger standards to ensure reasonable accommodations are made to help little people work and the SSA may re-evaluate their standards.
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