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Malignant Multiple Sclerosis and Social Security Disability

Due to the vast number of new applications for Social Security Disability currently backlogged in the SSA’s claims processing offices, claimants often wait several months before receiving a disability determination and even longer if they choose to appeal the decision in the case of a denial. Fortunately, in the face of increases in the overall number of disability claims, the retirement of the Baby Boomer generation, and limited staffing and tight budgets, the SSA has taken action to ensure that those who are in the most need of SSDI are able to receive approval for benefits as quickly as possible.

One of the ways the SSA has provided for this is the Compassionate Allowances program. This program allows the SSA to more quickly process claims for a list of diseases identified to be the most likely to be determined disabling. The number of Compassionate Allowance diseases and conditions is currently at 100.

Malignant Multiple Sclerosis - Condition and Symptoms

Malignant Multiple Sclerosis is once such severely disabling condition recognized by the SSA as qualifying for a Compassionate Allowance.

Multiple Sclerosis is an auto-immune disease in which the body attacks its own myelin, the substance which surrounds and protects the nerve endings in the spinal cord and brain. When this is damaged, it interrupts the normal function of the nerves, leading to loss of feeling and responsive movement. Over time, scar tissue forms in the areas where the myelin was destroyed, which can cause permanent loss of nerve function and result in a severely disabling condition.

The six different forms of MS are defined by whether the disease is benign, regressive, relapsing, progressive, chronic, or malignant.

Malignant Multiple Sclerosis, also termed Marburg Variant Multiple Sclerosis, is the most rare but most severe and life-threatening form of MS which leads to disability or even death in as little as a few weeks or months after symptoms first appear.

Although there is no exact set of symptoms which can define MS, the following symptoms tend to exhibit in early-stage or pre-diagnosis MS patients:

  • unusual clumsiness and muscle weakness
  • persistent fatigue
  • speech problems
  • depression
  • inability to concentrate
  • uncharacteristic behavior such as aggression
  • bladder problems
  • vision problems

As MS progresses, it affects multiple body systems. As the function of the muscles deteriorates due to nerve damage, it leads to numbness, partial or intermittent paralysis, muscle spasms, tremors, and can result pain throughout the body. Repeated muscle spasms cause muscles to twist up and become permanently crippled. As it affects the nerves of the brain, MS causes mental fogginess, cognitive impairments, dizziness, vertigo, speech problems, and impaired eyesight. MS suffers also experience bladder and bowel problems as well as sexual dysfunction.

Multiple Sclerosis is not curable, but can be treated with drugs which prevent the progression of the disease in many patients, as well as alleviate associated symptoms. In addition, physical therapy is often used to help restore muscle function and mobility in spite of the crippling effects of the disease.

Filing for SSDI with a Malignant Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosis

Malignant Multiple Sclerosis is listed as one of 13 new Compassionate Allowance diseases and conditions added by the SSA in October 2011.

If you are applying for SSDI with malignant multiple sclerosis, you may qualify for a Compassionate Allowance. To qualify, your medical documentation and diagnosis must qualify using the specific conditions in the SSA’s Listing of Impairments. In addition, your vocational information must also indicate that because of your Malignant Multiple Sclerosis, you are unable to do previous work or any other “substantially gainful activity.”

According to the SSA Listing of Impairments, or “Blue Book,” the following conditions must be met in order to qualify as disabled because of Malignant Multiple Sclerosis:

  • A diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis with severe loss of motor skills in at least two extremes of the body, disabling you from performing basic and complex movements or from standing and walking.
  • A visual or mental dysfunction as described in Sections 2 or 12 of the Listing of Impairments, and
  • Significant weakness in the muscles and loss of muscle function as demonstrated by your physical exam, disabling you from performing repetitive activities because of MS’s effect on the central nervous system.

Your Malignant Multiple Sclerosis Disability Case

Because of the recent addition of Malignant Multiple Sclerosis to the SSA’s list of Compassionate Allowances, your MS case should be automatically identified by the claims processing system as one to be given priority and pushed more quickly through the determination process.

Although this makes the claims process easier, it is still important to ensure that all your medical documentation is accurate and clearly points to a Malignant Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis so it can be more quickly identified and processed as a Compassionate Allowance.

In many cases, employing the services of a skilled Social Security Disability lawyer will further increase your chances of a swift and positive determination so you can receive the benefits you need as quickly as possible.