Multiple sclerosis (MS) sufferers may develop a disabling condition severe enough to prevent them from continuing in employment or returning to work after a relapse. If as a MS sufferer you face permanent restrictions on being able to work you may be eligible for a social security disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA).
The SSA will make their assessment based on the symptoms of MS you are experiencing, medical records, tests and recent prognosis from medical professionals with MS expertise. Around 50% of MS sufferers across the United States suffer sufficient permanent impairment to prevent them from meaningful paid employment.
Permanent Restrictions You May Experience with Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis is an auto-immune disease, i.e. symptoms experienced are due to your own immune system attacking part of your own body rather than something recognized as “foreign”. In the case of MS, it is the insulating fatty tissue that surrounds nerve cells that is attacked.
Unfortunately, doctors cannot make a diagnosis based on the symptoms alone as they may also be experienced by people who do not have MS. Specific neurological tests for damage to the nervous system and a link with an auto-immune disorder must be established first.
Typical MS symptoms are as follows:
- chronic pain;
- continuously feeling tired;
- problems with thinking (cognitive function);
- dizzy spells;
Early diagnosis of multiple sclerosis can help to prevent permanent restrictions on lifestyle and ability to continue employment.
Work History and Job Skills
MS social security disability benefit applications are assessed on the basis of both the capacity to perform paid employment as well as the work history of the applicant.
The first criterion is determined by assessment of the symptoms, medical history and records and any neurological tests that have been performed. The permanent restrictions are compared to the SSA’s own criteria in the Blue Book or against a residual functional capacity assessment.
Work history is used to determine whether the applicant is eligible to receive a social security disability insurance (SSDI) benefit, mainly because of the number of work credits accumulated while in employment.
The alternative, available to those with shorter work histories and fewer assets and other income is a supplementary security income (SSI) benefit.
Can I Perform Sedentary Work?
The SSA uses a state’s disability determination services (DDS) examiner to determine whether a MS sufferer’s symptoms really do prevent them from continuing in paid employment. In some cases, the DDS assessor may decide that the applicant is still capable of doing less physical work such as some type of sedentary work where standing up or heavy lifting is not necessary.
If your permanent impairment from MS is still too severe to do any form of work, including sedentary work, you may need to appeal a denied benefit application. In many cases, an appeal leads to a denied benefit decision being overturned leading to a benefit being approved.
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Applying for a social security disability benefit can be a challenging process. Because many applications are initially denied, an appeal may be ultimately necessary to have a decision overturned.
You are advised to use a disability lawyer to help you with your benefit application at any stage of the process.