Social Security Disability Benefits for Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a devastating progressive disease that can impact many facets of your life. It’s an autoimmune disease, which is progressive and unfortunately, can result in a significant loss of function.
Being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis doesn’t automatically mean you’ll be approved for benefits. At Nash Disability Law, we can evaluate your claim and advise you about applying for disability benefits. Additionally, if you have multiple sclerosis and were denied, we can consult with you about your case and appeal.
Each MS case is different because of the various types of the disease. Your symptoms may vary depending upon whether you have relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, primary progressive multiple sclerosis, or progressive relapsing multiple sclerosis. Because of the varied symptoms of multiple sclerosis, attorney consultation is important for the evaluation of your claim.
The symptoms of your Multiple Sclerosis can attack multiple body systems and affect, balance, coordination, walking, tremors, bowel and bladder function, mental health, memory, vision, hearing, and fatigue. These symptoms can also vary in their severity.
As mentioned, simply having the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis is not enough to be approved for the disability benefits. There is a requirement for any disability under the Social Security laws that your illness must last for at least 12 months and must keep you from being able to work a full-time job.
You may experience times during your disease when the symptoms are especially difficult and during these exacerbations, it can be difficult not only to work but also to carry out activities of daily living. You may also have long periods of remission, or periods of time when your symptoms attenuate.
There are two ways that you can qualify for disability benefits if you suffer from MS. Social Security has a list of impairments which on their face, appear to be disabling. They are called the Listing of Impairments and they are part of the Social Security Act. Generally speaking, these listings have narrow requirements which have to be met in order to be granted disability benefits. For MS, a claimant has to demonstrate one of the following:
- Persistent Disorganization of Motor Function. This can result in difficulty in the ability to walk, use your hands, partial paralysis, tremors, sensory disturbance or involuntary movements.
- Visual Impairments. The MS has caused a significant decrease in vision which is not able to be corrected. You must show less than 20/200 after best correction, 20 percent or less in visual field efficiency or after best correction of the better eye, there is visual efficiency of 20 percent or less.
- Mental Impairments. You need to show an organic mental disorder causing memory loss, decreased in intellectual functioning as demonstrated by IQ testing, or disturbance in mood.
- Severe Reproducible Fatigue. This is demonstrated with substantial muscle weakness on repetitive activity cause by a neurological dysfunction in the areas of the central nervous system.
Meeting the listing is the first way to be found disabled for MS. In order to satisfy these requirements, you should make sure that you have the appropriate evidence in the records.
The diagnosis of MS should be made with an MRI supporting that there are lesions in the brain. It is also helpful if your MS is confirmed by a lumbar puncture. Depending on your symptoms, other evidence is also helpful. For example, if your MS is affecting your vision, you should make sure you have up-to-date vision testing to see if you have the degree of limitation as required by the listing. If you have depression or fatigue related to your MS it would be especially important to evaluate the notes that your physicians have from your visits.
If you don’t meet the precise requirements of the listing, it’s possible to be awarded disability benefits based upon your inability to work.
The Social Security Administration will look at your limitations, age, education, and previous work experience in evaluating if you could maintain any job. They will formulate a “Residual Functional Capacity” assessment, or RFC. That is the most that you would be able to do with your given limitations. An RFC considers your ability to engage in physical and mental activities. If your RFC prevents you from working, then you may be awarded benefits. In the event that this is the appropriate argument in your case, you still need to ensure that your evidence will support your claims.
If you suffer from MS, the process to win disability benefits can get complicated, but you’re not alone. Call Nash Disability Law for the help you need.
Other Common Impairments We See In Our Chicago Area Clients:
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