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SSI disability and Goldenhar Syndrome

Goldenhar Syndrome is a congenital condition which can cause deformities in the spinal cord and head (including ears, mouth and eyes). Scientists and doctors are not clear on the origin of the condition, and the seriousness of the deformities varies greatly by patient.

Facial deformities can include Hemifacial microsomia which is a underdevelopment of the bones in the face, including cleft lip or cleft palate. Eye deformities include cysts, small eye, or coloboma (which is missing tissue from the eyelid). Ear deformities can include microtia or anotia in which the ear is small or missing. The spine may be underdeveloped, fused or partially absent. Other common difficulties can include mental retardation, and kidney or heart issues. Spinal deformities are also found in about 50% of Goldenhar cases, and hearing loss is also common.

Winning Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for Goldenhar Syndrome


The SSA maintains a listing of impairments and symptoms for conditions which are considered automatically disabling. This list is called the SSA Listing of Impairments, and there is a Part A and Part B. The Part B is the listing used for disabled children. If the child’s condition meets or exceeds a listing, the SSA will conclude that the condition causes marked limitations which can cause“extreme limitations” in at least one area of functioning.”

In addition to evaluating the severity of the health condition, however, the SSA will also have to determine if the child’s family meets the resource and income limitations for the SSI program. This requirement seems to really confuse applicants who believe that their child should qualify just because they have a severe health disorder. Unfortunately, this is not the way the SSI program works.

Goldenhar Syndrome and Meeting a Listing on the SSA Listing of Impairments


The SSA does not have a listing for Goldenhar Syndrome but that does not mean that your child’s condition is not severe enough to “meet or equal” a listing. As mentioned above, if your child’s condition has caused mental retardation or heart and kidney conditions they may be evaluated under a corresponding listing.

For example, mental retardation would be evaluated under 112.00 Mental Disorders, Section 112.02 Organic Mental Disorders which will specifically evaluate the child’s “abnormalities in perception, cognition, affect, or behavior associated with dysfunction of the brain.” Kidney dysfunction would be evaluated under 106.00 Genitourinary Impairments, Section 106.02 Impairment of Renal Function which can include any chronic renal disease that will last for at least 12 continuous months and causes chronic hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis, the need for a kidney transplantation, persistent elevation of serum creatinin, or reduction of creatinine clearance.

Conclusion


As outlined above, the SSA will evaluate whether your child’s Goldenhar Syndrome is severe. Children with very limited deformities will have difficulty proving that their condition has caused “marked and severe” functional limitations.

Additionally, if your family does not meet the resource and income limitations your child will be automatically denied. Contact the SSA for more information about the income limitations. They have charts which they will reference to determine if you meet the income requirements.
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