Qualify for Social Security Disability benefits with MS
When you apply for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits with a Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis, you will need to be able to demonstrate to the state-run Disability Determination Services (DDS) that your condition gravely affects your ability to perform any normal work tasks. The Social Security Administration refers to your capability to perform your average employment tasks as “Substantial Gainful Activity.”
Regardless, if you can provide strong medical evidence of your disabled condition based on MS, it is important to provide “detailed information about the symptoms of the condition, particularly the limitations imposed on the day-to-day functioning of the patient.” The most effective approach is combining a neurologist’s diagnosis of your case of multiple sclerosis with a long-term record of your symptoms and limitations (often provided by your primary care physician). The long-term statement combined with months or years of records will greatly strengthen your case for disability benefits.
Certain medical factors are listed in the Social Security Administration’s impairment criteria handbook, or “Social Security Listing of Impairments,” which are used by Disability Determination Services to determine whether to award Social Security Disability benefits. Symptoms in the Listing of Impairments for MS include:
- Visual impairment;
- Mental impairment involving behavioral and psychological abnormalities manifested by the presence of certain mental disorders;
- Persistent motor function disorganization in the form of paralysis or paresis, ataxia, tremor and sensory disturbances that may occur in different combinations; and
- Significant motor function fatigue with considerable muscle weakness particularly when performing repetitive activities.
General Overview: What is Multiple Sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a nervous system disease that affects your brain and spinal cord. According to MedlinePlus,
“MS damages the myelin sheath, the material that surrounds and protects your nerve cells. This damage slows down or blocks messages between your brain and your body, leading to the symptoms of MS. They can include:
- Visual disturbances
- Muscle weakness
- Trouble with coordination and balance
- Sensations such as numbness, prickling, or “pins and needles”
- Thinking and memory problems
There is no known cause for MS. It may be an autoimmune disease, which occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks your body. Multiple sclerosis affects approximately 150 out of every 100,000 people, and tends to affect women more than men. MS often starts between the ages of 20 and 40, and then becomes more prevalent through aging. Normally, the disease is somewhat mild, but some individuals lose the ability to write, speak, or walk.
There are multiple tests for MS. Doctors normally analyze your medical history, perform physical and neurological exams, or an MRI. There is also no known cure for MS, but certain medicines may slow down the progression and help manage symptoms. Physical and occupational therapy may also help.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes MS as a chronic illness or “impairment” under section 11.09 that could cause disability severe enough to prevent you from working. If any of the following symptoms, or other common MS symptoms, prevents you from working, you might qualify for Social Security Disability benefits:
- Difficulty with walking and other motor skills.
- Difficulty seeing.
- Difficulty concentrating or completing simple tasks.
- Difficulty remembering.
- Extreme fatigue, regardless of sleep.
- Speech impairment.
- Side effects of medication(s).
According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), MS is the third most common neurological cause of disability, behind only stroke and epilepsy. Qualifying to receive Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits can help by ensuring an income stream and medical insurance. Yet of those who apply for disability benefits, only 37% nationally are successful on their initial application. By understanding the challenges that MS presents in the SSD application process and by following a few simple guidelines, you can improve your chances of success the first time around.
Potential Problems for People with MS Applying for SSD
The problem for people with cognitive problems and fatigue who are applying for SSD is that the typical neurological examination is not designed to assess these symptoms in detail. Thus, your medical records may not provide the Initial Application with enough objective evidence of the most significant impairments.
Your Multiple Sclerosis Disability Case
Obtaining disability benefits on the basis of multiple sclerosis can be difficult, particularly for younger applicants. If you currently suffer from this disease and believe that you have a strong case for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), it is important that you fully understand the application and appeals process before you send in your Initial Application. In most cases, working closely with medical professionals, along with a qualified Social Security attorney, can greatly increase the efficiency with which a claimant’s rightful benefits are obtained.
Hiring an SSDI Attorney
Even in cases of multiple sclerosis diagnoses, there are no guarantees in the application filing process. The best way to ensure you receive the benefits you deserve is by retaining a knowledgeable Social Security lawyer in Utah. The overwhelming majority of all applications are rejected at both the initial and appeals stages, but nearly two-thirds of cases brought to a hearing (with a competent lawyer representing the disable person) are accepted. Call the Summit Disability Law Group and let us help you navigate the complicated legal structure so you can receive the benefits you deserve.