Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Social Security Disability

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (also known as FAS) is the leading cause of mental retardation in the United States. It is estimated that approximately one in every five-hundred babies born develop the condition in the womb. While the effects of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome vary from case to case, a severe case of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome can make it impossible for an individual to work and generate enough of an income to support themselves. This inability to generate an income or obtain necessary medical insurance can cause significant financial stress. Fortunately, Social Security Disability benefits may be able to help. If you or someone you know is unable to work due to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and you are wondering whether or not the condition can qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, the following information can shed light on how the Social Security Administration (SSA) handles claims based on the condition.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome - Condition and Symptoms

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is a condition that occurs when a mother consumes alcohol during her pregnancy. The severity of the condition may be directly related to the amount of alcohol consumed while the fetus is developing inside the womb. It is unknown how much alcohol must be consumed in order for the condition to occur. Because of this, doctors recommend complete abstinence from alcohol during pregnancy in order to avoid Fetal Alcohol Syndrome in the developing fetus. While the condition is completely preventable, there is no cure for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome once the condition has developed.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome results in a variety of mental and physical defects. Individuals with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome often display a variety of symptoms including distinctive facial features, damaged brain structure, psychological and behavioral problems and other physical damage. Brain damage is a frequent effect of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Those who suffer from the condition commonly experience attention deficits, learning disabilities, poor impulse control, memory impairments, poor cause and effect reasoning, heart abnormalities and mild to severe brain damage. An infant born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome may also be addicted to alcohol at birth and many babies with FAS are stillborn or premature.

Babies who are born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome often display unique physical characteristics. These include low birth weight, poor muscle tone, narrowed eyes, a small head and a smooth grove in the area of the upper lip. If a doctor suspects that a child has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome at birth, he or she may order a toxicology screening and other medical tests to help diagnose the condition.

There is no cure for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Children who suffer developmental and emotional issues due to the condition may benefit from special education classes to assist with learning issues and therapy can address behavior and emotional concerns.

Filing for Social Security Disability with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

When an individual applies for Social Security Disability benefits, the examiner reviewing the case will refer to a published listing of impairments referred to as the Blue Book. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome does not have its own listing in this publication, but it is mentioned in Section 10.00 and Section 110.00, which cover Multiple Body Systems.

Because the SSA does not have specific guidelines regarding Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and how the condition pertains to Social Security Disability claims, it can be challenging to obtain disability benefits for a claim based on the condition. That does not mean, however, that it is impossible to be approved for Social Security Disability if you are suffering from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

In order to be approved for disability benefits due to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome you will need to prove to the SSA that the condition completely prevents the applicant from being able to work. This can be done through proper medical documentation including physical exams, intelligence testing, psychiatric records and documentation of the limitations the condition imposes on the individual suffering from it.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Your Social Security Disability Case

It is not uncommon for severe cases of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome to prevent an individual from being able to perform substantial gainful work activity. If this condition is preventing an individual from earning a gainful income, they are entitled to Social Security Disability benefits. However, the applicant will need to prove the extent of the disability to the SSA.

In many cases, an individual with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome may have their initial application for disability benefits denied. If this happens, you will need to file an appeal and have your case heard before an administrative law judge in order to obtain Social Security Disability benefits. Your chances of being awarded benefits as a result of an appeal are significantly greater with proper legal representation. Because of this, you should consult with a Social Security Disability attorney when filing for disability benefits.

You only have 60 days from the date of your denied disability application to file your appeal of the SSA's decision, so time is of the essence if you have already been denied disability benefits. If your application for benefits has been denied, contact a Social Security Lawyer as soon as possible to discuss the specifics of your disability claim.