In a rare show of bipartisan solidarity, the US Senate has recently declared April 2012 “Parkinson’s Awareness Month.” It is hoped that by recognizing and drawing attention to this debilitating disease that we can improve treatments and the quality of life for those who suffer with Parkinson’s.
There are a number of ways you can be part of Parkinson’s awareness month, ranging from volunteering to donating to simply doing your part to help raise awareness of the condition and those who suffer from it. While there is currently no known cure for Parkinson’s disease, research is ongoing, with the hope that better treatments (and someday a cure) will soon be available.
Recognition by the US Senate is an important step in continuing the fight against Parkinson’s disease. One way you can help is to write your Senators and Representatives, thanking them for establishing April as Parkinson’s Awareness Month and encouraging them to ensure that the practice is continued.
What Is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s disease is a condition which affects about one million people in the United States alone. It is more widespread than Muscular Dystrophy, Lou Gehrig’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis combined. Each year, nearly 60,000 new cases are diagnosed in the US.
In most cases, Parkinson’s disease strikes people in their 60s or 70s. However, more than one in twenty Parkinson’s cases affect patients before the age of 40.
Parkinson’s is a brain disorder. It is caused by the destruction of cells which produce dopamine. Its major symptoms include:
- Balance impairment
- Rigidity of the muscles
- Tremor of the feet and/or hands
- Slow movement
Other symptoms associated with Parkinson’s (albeit less frequently) include:
- Constant blinking
- Handwriting changes
- Difficulty swallowing
- Intolerance of heat
- Difficulty sleeping
- Speech impediment
Those who are struck with Parkinson’s disease face a long road with symptoms gradually increasing (in most cases). The disease takes a heavy toll not only physically, but emotionally and psychologically as well. Additionally, it tends to be strenuous for the person who is taking care of a loved one with Parkinson’s disease.
Can You Apply for SSD with Parkinson’s Disease?
If you have Parkinson’s disease, you may qualify for Social Security disability programs such as SSDI and/or SSI. The Social Security Administration (SSA) classifies Parkinson’s under neurological conditions. The exact conditions which must be met vary somewhat based on your age and your prior work experience, education, and other factors.
Generally speaking, to qualify for Social Security disability benefits with Parkinson’s disease, you must:
- If you are under 50 years old, you must be unable to perform sedentary work (this may be waived if you have only done physical work previously and your level of education does not lend itself to training for available sedentary work). This includes being able to lift ten pounds, walk periodically and sit for six to eight hours per day. It may also include the ability to perform fine motor skills.
- If you are over 50 years old, you must be unable to perform work which you have previously done to qualify for Social Security disability benefits. In most cases, you will not be expected to retrain for new types of employment.
If you have Parkinson’s disease and want to apply for Social Security disability benefits, your first step should be to contact a Social Security disability attorney. A Social Security disability lawyer can help expedite the process by making sure that everything is filed properly and giving you legal counsel regarding the likelihood that your claim will be approved.