According to the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation, about 2.5 million people worldwide have multiple sclerosis (MS). It is estimated that 400,000 of those diagnosed with MS live in the U.S., with 200 more being diagnosed each week.
Multiple sclerosis is a progressive disease that can lead to physical and mental debilitation that may affect one’s ability to work. If you have MS and it affects your ability to work, you may be eligible to receive Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits.
What is Multiple Sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic disease that affects the central nervous system i.e. brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. Multiple sclerosis occurs when the body’s own immune system attacks the coatings of nerve channels throughout the central nervous system. This attack causes a “shorting out” of nerve signals and thus limiting the function of the central nervous system.
Since the central nervous system functions as the control center for the body, MS can cause varying symptoms such as:
- extreme fatigue
- numbness and tingling in the extremities
- loss of balance
- poor coordination
- blurred vision
- slurred speech
- memory and concentration problems
These symptoms can affect individuals in varying degrees and can come and go or persist. There are medicines that can help manage and slow the progression of symptoms. But, as there is no cure for MS, the problems will worsen over time.
Multiple Sclerosis and SSDI
The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses a list of medically determinable impairments to help determine who gets benefits. This list gives SSA workers criteria for determining a claimant’s eligibility. Caseworkers must incorporate each listings criteria into the 5 step process SSA uses to determine a claim.
Those filing an SSDI claim for multiple sclerosis will go through the following process:
- Determine if the claimant is working at or above the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) level as defined by the SSA in the year they file. The SGA level for 2017 is a monthly income of $1170.
- Determine if the claimant’s problems with multiple sclerosis drastically limit their ability to perform basic work activities such as:
- pulling or pushing
- lifting or carrying
- simple cognitive reasoning
- Determine if the problems with claimant’s multiple sclerosis meets the criteria outlined in the SSA’s impairments list.
The SSA listing for multiple sclerosis requires a claimant to have medical proof of at least one of the following:
- Extreme limitation of motor function in two extremities affecting the ability to stand from a seated position, balance while standing or walking, or using the upper extremities.
- Marked limitation of physical function and one of the following:
- social interactions
- concentration while performing tasks
- comprehension (understanding, remembering, applying formation)
- Determine if the claimant’s problems from multiple sclerosis stops them from doing any work they may have done in the past despite the complications caused by the disease.
- Determine if the claimant can do any other type of work based on their:
- prior work experience
- mental and physical capabilities
Getting Help with Your Claim
Do you have multiple sclerosis and its complications significantly affect your ability to work? You could qualify to receive Social Security Disability benefits.
But, getting approval for a multiple sclerosis SSDI claim can be complex. Because multiple sclerosis has various effects and can be re-occurring, the SSA may have difficulty understanding your need for benefits. You will need to provide detailed medical records of your health problems plus evidence of how they affect your work capability.
Having an experienced social security disability attorney help you through the process can improve your chances of approval. Contact us for a free evaluation of your situation and let one of our attorneys see if we can help you get the benefits you need.