March is National MS Education and Awareness Month.

Submitted by Daniel on Thu, 03/15/2012 - 09:40

Since 2003, March has been recognized in the US as National MS Education and Awareness Month. During National MS Education and Awareness Month, the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation (MSF) and other likeminded organizations make a concerted effort to raise public awareness of Multiple Sclerosis. The MSF also raises money to help fund research and otherwise combat the disease.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease. It primarily affects the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system). The most common symptoms include loss of muscle control and coordination. Other symptoms include:

  • Weakness
  • Bladder control problems
  • Speech impediments
  • Vision problems
  • Depression
  • Tremors
  • Problems swallowing
  • Chronic pain
  • Swelling
  • Loss of feeling/ numbness
  • Bowel and bladder difficulties
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Unstable moods

Multiple sclerosis is considered both chronic and unpredictable. Symptoms can be very different from one case to the next. Symptoms often come and go, with periods of improvement and periods of relapse. Progressive MS, the rarest subtype of MS, brings a steady decline of neurological functioning.

Little is understood about the causes of MS, and at present there is no cure for the disease. Treatments are therapeutic in nature and focus on trying to return a person to pre-attack functioning. Those who have MS pass away on average 5-10 years earlier than the general public.

Depending on the types and severity of symptoms suffered, people with multiple sclerosis may find it challenging or even impossible to find and maintain employment. For those who are completely able to perform any work for which they are qualified due to MS, Social Security Disability benefits may represent their best-or only- chance to maintain a reasonable standard of living while struggling to cope with their disease.

A diagnosis of MS will not automatically qualify you for Social Security disability benefits. Your medical records need to demonstrate that your MS (combined with any other medical or mental/emotional conditions you may have) makes it impossible for you to maintain substantial gainful activity.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) will consider whether you are able to perform any kind of work. They will consider all forms of employment you have held previously, especially in the last ten years. If you could reasonably be expected to perform any job you have done before, you will not be approved for disability benefits. Further, the SSA will seek to determine whether there is any other kind of work available which you could do and for which you could reasonably be trained.

It is important that your medical documentation clearly spells out all physical and mental/emotional/social restrictions your condition places you under. Ideally, these should be stated in terms of what kinds of work situations and functions you cannot reasonably be expected to live with.

Most initial applications for Social Security disability are denied, especially if the claimant is not represented by a Social Security disability attorney. If your Social Security disability claim has been denied, or if you haven’t yet filed a claim, consult with a Social Security disability lawyer before taking the next step. Doing so greatly improves your chances of having your MS disability claim approved.

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