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  • Down Syndrome Awareness Month and life insurance
  • October 9, 2014
  • Down syndrome and life insuranceBy Karla Sullivan

    October celebrates those with Down syndrome and helps others become aware of the genetic disorder. Down syndrome occurs when an individual has a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21. This contributes to low muscle tone, small height and an upward slant to the eyes.

    According to the National Down Syndrome Society, one in every 691 babies in the US is born with Down syndrome, making it the most common genetic disorder.

    Down syndrome is only hereditary in approximately one percent of all instances and is not necessarily one born to older parents. People with Down syndrome have a life expectancy dramatically approaching that of those without the syndrome. Down syndrome may have mild to moderate cognitive delays but those with it are not institutionalized and can fully participate in educational, vocational, social and recreational activities within the community.

    A great example of accomplishment for a young man with Down syndrome was Dan Piper who had completed an inclusive education but showed the Iowa Public School System that he was extremely intelligent, able to learn and contribute to society in positive ways.

    Dan was employed and accomplished amazing feats such as testifying before Congress on behalf of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Today, in his memory, the Dan Piper Award is given to an individual with Down syndrome, over 18, that is utilizing their compassionate potential.

    Sean Adams was last year’s award recipient who taught himself sign language in middle school, received an award for volunteering hours at graduation, went to prom, joined Special Olympics in 2012 for swimming and received several state medals. Shawn is a church youth group leader and has written a book on Down syndrome.

    Those with Down syndrome continue to eliminate the myths that they cannot participate in full life activity. Down syndrome teens graduate from high school after being in the regular classroom for all subjects and many graduate with college degrees.

    So what about life insurance for those with Down syndrome?

    For those under the age of eighteen, it is difficult to obtain a policy or child rider if Down is accompanied by other problems, which can include lung issues such as asthma.

    However, when one turns eighteen, those with Down syndrome can apply for a Guaranteed life insurance plan without a medical exam and only a few health questions. Generally, death benefit coverage may be lower than other policies and the cost of premiums higher, but it is worth talking to a qualified insurance agent for more detail about these policies that may be available in your state.

    How can you celebrate those with Down syndrome this month?

    Donations will help continue the important work to promote those in need. You can participate in fundraising opportunities or become a corporate partner. If wanting to make a charitable contribution with through your own life insurance policy contact the National Down Syndrome Society for more information.


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