If you have Multiple Sclerosis, often known as MS, you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits if your condition has limited your ability to work. To qualify and be approved for disability benefits with MS, you will need to meet the SSA's Blue Book listing 11.09. It is important to have strong medical documentation supporting your case.
Multiple Sclerosis – Condition
Multiple Sclerosis, is a disease that occurs when the fatty myelin sheaths surrounding the axons in the brain and spinal cord are damaged by attacks from the body’s own immune system. Put simply, Multiple Sclerosis causes the immune system to destroy the coatings of nerve channels, shorting out nerve signals and limiting the capacity of the spinal cord and the brain to correspond with each other.
Diagnosing Multiple Sclerosis can be difficult. Consult a neurologist to determine if symptoms are indicative of Multiple Sclerosis, but in many cases proving a definitive link can be difficult. Often, symptoms include:
- chronic pain
- cognitive problems
A precise diagnosis can be based on your medical records and neurological tests, and various specialized procedures including magnetic resonance imaging, lumbar or spinal taps punctures, evoked potentials and blood analysis can help to accurately detect Multiple Sclerosis. Diagnosing this disease early is extremely important, since the progression of symptoms can be slowed significantly by treatment.
Filing for Social Security Disability with a Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosis
When applying for Social Security Disability benefits on the basis of Multiple Sclerosis, it is necessary to demonstrate to the state-run Disability Determination Services (DDS) that a claimant’s capacity to perform gainful work activity has been severely limited by the condition. Even if a claimant can provide strong medical evidence of disability 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. Corroborating a neurologist's diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis with a long-term record of symptoms and impairments provided by a primary care physician will greatly strengthen a case for disability benefits. Medical evidence that will strengthen a MS disability case includes:
- proof of demyelination from a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- spinal tap that shows increased myelin basic proteins
- evidence of slowed, garbled or halted nerve impulses from Evoked Potential Tests including VEP, BAEP'S, and SSEP'S
The medical factors listed in the Social Security Administration’s impairment criteria handbook, or “blue book,” that are used by Disability Determination Services to decide whether to award Social Security Disability benefits to individuals with Multiple Sclerosis include:
Impairments that Qualify for MS Disability Benefits
- 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.
Your Multiple Sclerosis Disability Case
Obtaining disability benefits on the basis of Multiple Sclerosis can be difficult, particularly for younger claimants. 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 applications. In most cases, working closely with medical professionals, along with a qualified Social Security attorney or disability advocate, can greatly increase the efficiency with which a claimant’s rightful benefits are obtained.