Getting Disability for Triple X Syndrome (Trisomy X)

Adults and children with severe mental or physical symptoms of Trisomy X or triple X syndrome might qualify for Social Security disability benefits.

By , J.D. · University of Missouri School of Law
Updated by Bethany K. Laurence, Attorney · UC Law San Francisco

Most people have 23 pairs of chromosomes at birth. But about 1 of every 1,000 people born female have an extra X chromosome on the 23rd set (the chromosome set that determines gender). This congenital disorder is known by several names:

  • triple X syndrome
  • Trisomy X
  • XXX Syndrome, and
  • 47,XXX.

Symptoms of Triple X Syndrome

Many women with triple X syndrome have no symptoms and might not even know they have the condition. But others suffer from severe symptoms, such as poor motor skills and delayed or impaired language skills.

In addition to language problems and undeveloped motor skills, other symptoms of triple X syndrome can include:

Trisome X can contribute to mental health and developmental issues of varying severity. An adult or child with XXX syndrome might suffer from any of the following:

Cause of Trisomy X

Although a genetic abnormality causes triple X syndrome, it's not an inherited condition. So, you can't pass it on to your children.

Instead, it's caused by an error in cell division at or just after conception. When this error happens, three X chromosomes are transmitted to the cells of the female embryo.

Someone with triple X syndrome might carry an extra X chromosome in every cell. When only some of the cells have three X chromosomes, it's known as mosaic Trisomy X, or mosaic triple X syndrome. Someone with mosaic Trisomy X might have only mild symptoms or no symptoms at all.

Triple X syndrome can be diagnosed before a baby is born using prenatal genetic testing, such as amniocentesis. In children and adults, XXX syndrome is diagnosed via chromosomal analysis of a blood sample. But it often goes undetected in those with no symptoms.

Treatment for Triple X Syndrome

There's no cure for Trisomy X. But early detection and intervention are believed to help minimize the long-term effects of the disorder.

Many symptoms of triple X syndrome can be treated individually. For example, language and developmental disorders are often treated with speech therapy or special education classes. Poor motor skills might improve with physical therapy or occupational therapy.

Can an Adult Can Get Disability for Triple X Syndrome?

Social Security maintains a list of medical conditions (in its Blue Book) that can be severe enough for someone to automatically qualify for disability benefits. Although there's no specific Blue Book listing for triple X syndrome, the condition is discussed in section 10.00, for congenital disorders that affect multiple body systems.

Because the nature and severity of Trisomy X symptoms vary widely from one person to the next and affect multiple body systems, Social Security evaluates the disorder under the appropriate Blue Book section for the affected body system, such as:

  • musculoskeletal disorders
  • neurological disorders, or
  • mental disorders.

If your Trisomy X symptoms are medically equivalent to the criteria of one of the impairments listed in the Blue Book, Social Security will consider you disabled. You'll need an opinion from your physician (backed up with ample medical evidence) to show that your condition equals a listing, as disability examiners and judges are often reluctant to make this finding on their own.

Getting Disability for XXX Syndrome Through a Medical-Vocational Allowance

It's possible to have severe symptoms from Trisomy X and not meet a single listing in the Blue Book. That doesn't necessarily mean you can't get disability as an adult. Even if your triple X syndrome doesn't meet the requirements of a listing, you might still qualify for Social Security disability benefits by showing that there are no jobs you can be expected to do.

Social Security will consider your residual functional capacity (RFC) to determine whether you can perform any jobs in the national economy. Your RFC is an assessment of the physical and mental abilities that remain despite your medical condition.

Social Security will review your medical records and consider any opinions from health care providers when assessing your RFC. A supportive opinion from a treating physician is crucial in a disability case based on Trisomy X.

Whether through a short letter or by completing an RFC form, your doctor should address your functional limitations in the following areas of physical functioning:

  • sitting, standing, walking, lifting, carrying, pushing, pulling
  • bending, stooping, squatting, crawling
  • reaching, handling, fingering
  • concentrating for extended periods, and
  • dealing with environmental hazards such as dust or fumes.

If you have cognitive or mental limitations as well, your doctor should address your ability to:

  • understand, remember, and carry out simple and detailed instructions
  • interact appropriately with coworkers, supervisors, and the general public
  • maintain adequate attendance and punctuality, and
  • handle work stresses and make simple work-related decisions.

It's important to obtain consistent medical treatment for your symptoms and follow the advice of your doctors. Rightly or wrongly, Social Security tends to doubt the severity of medical problems that aren't the subject of regular medical treatment.

Read more about getting a medical-vocational allowance if you don't meet a medical listing.

Can a Child Can Get Disability for Triple X Syndrome?

Children can receive SSI disability benefits if they meet the family income and asset limits and if their condition either:

If your child doesn't meet a particular listing, Social Security could determine that your child's functioning is equivalent to the listings in general (has "listing-level severity"). Social Security will look at how your child functions compared to other children of the same age in the following six areas (or "domains") of functioning:

  • acquiring and using information
  • attending and completing tasks
  • interacting and relating with others
  • moving about and manipulating objects
  • self-care, and
  • health and physical well-being.

To qualify this way, your child must show a marked limitation in two areas of functioning or an extreme limitation in one area. A marked limitation seriously interferes with your child's ability to function, while an extreme limitation very seriously interferes with your child's ability to function.

For example, mental/cognitive issues that sometimes come with Trisomy X include speech and language delays, learning disabilities, and poor language comprehension. These issues affect a child's ability to acquire information and complete tasks appropriate for their age. If the impact is severe, the child's condition would be considered as severe as those covered in the listings.

Poor socialization skills or behavioral issues could also affect a child's ability to interact with others appropriately. If your child has any physical symptoms, including muscle weakness or abdominal pain, the child's ability to move about or manipulate objects could also be affected. Again, if these symptoms have a severe impact on those functions, the child's condition will functionally equal the listings.

For more information on how a child can qualify for SSI this way, see our article on functionally equaling the listings.

Applying for Social Security Disability

You can apply for disability benefits online, by phone, or in person. Which is the best way to file your claim will depend on the type of claim you're filing—whether it's for an adult or a child—and on your personal preferences.

To apply for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits for an adult (over 18), you have several options. You can:

The process of applying for SSI benefits for a child differs somewhat from filing an adult application. To apply for SSI for a child, you'll need to let Social Security know that you want to file a child's application. You can do that by filling out a short online questionnaire or contacting Social Security using one of the methods above.

You can also get your child's application started online by completing a Child Disability Report (which takes about an hour). Once you do, Social Security will contact you to finish the application process.

Do You Need a Lawyer to Get Disability for Trisomy X?

It's an unfortunate truth that Social Security initially denies most disability claims (about 65%). And some disabilities are more challenging to prove than others.

Cases involving triple X syndrome can be difficult to win, even on appeal, because disability judges are often unfamiliar with the condition. A disability attorney will work to educate the judge on your disorder. And an experienced lawyer also knows how to document your functional limitations with persuasive medical evidence. Particularly if your symptoms are moderate rather than severe, you may find it helpful to talk to an attorney before you file your claim or appeal.

Learn more about how a lawyer can improve your chance of winning a Social Security claim.

Updated April 8, 2024

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