Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an illness that causes your immune system to attack myelin (the protective sheath covering your nerves). Unfortunately, no cure for MS currently exists. Damage to the myelin leads to communication disruptions between your body and brain. Eventually, those nerves may deteriorate.
The signs and symptoms of MS can vary from person to person, depending on how the disease progresses and affects that patient’s nerves. For example, someone with severe MS may be in a wheelchair because they can no longer walk. Meanwhile, others may display no signs of MS during a period of remission.
Most Common Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis
Some of the most common symptoms of MS include:
- Double or blurred vision
- Vision loss, often in one eye at a time
- Weakness or numbness in one or more limbs
- Pain or tingling in the body
- Bowel and bladder function issues
- Slurred speech
- Lack of coordination
Certain factors that can increase a person’s risk of developing MS include age, sex, genetics, race, climate, and smoking. There are also different types of MS:
- Primary progressive
- Secondary progressive, and
- Progressive relapsing
After a person is diagnosed with MS, there are a variety of treatment options physicians may try to improve quality of life and limit symptoms and side effects. This could include medication and physical therapy.
Because multiple sclerosis is incurable, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits.
How the SSA Evaluates Disability Claims for Multiple Sclerosis
In order to qualify for SSD, you must meet all the qualifications outlined by the Social Security Administration (SSA). This means you must have MS and have symptoms severe enough to prevent you from working at least 12 months. It can be challenging for people with MS to meet these criteria, since the illness is often episodic. This means that sometimes you have visible symptoms, but in others, you appear to function normally (i.e., “remissions”). If you haven’t had an episode in six months or more, it can be challenging to prove you meet the SSD disability requirements.
It’s important to note that MS is listed in the SSA’s Blue Book of accepted disabling conditions under section 11.09. So if you meet the criteria listed there, the SSA may award you disability benefits. Additionally, if you have an advanced or severe case of MS, it increases your chances of winning benefits.
The Blue Book criteria mean you must show you suffer from at least one of the following issues:
- Severely decreased vision that you cannot correct by wearing glasses
- Issues walking or using your hands because of major limb impairments (this includes partial paralysis of limbs, tremors and involuntary movements)
- Major fatigue and muscle weakness
- An organic mental disorder that causes mood disturbances, decreased IQ or memory loss
What Medical Evidence Should You Submit That Best Supports Your Disability Claim for MS?
You will also need to provide sufficient medical evidence supporting your claim that MS prevents you from working. This evidence should include things like:
- Your official MS diagnosis from your treating physician
- Test results, such as MRIs, spinal taps and/or CT scans
- Doctor notes showing how your symptoms respond to various treatments
- Prescription medications or other treatments you tried in the past or currently take to treat your MS
- Notes from any specialists who treat your symptoms, including physical therapists, neurologists, etc.
- Medical records for the past 12 months, including any hospitalizations, outpatient procedures, etc.
In some cases, the SSA may ask you to complete a residual functional capacity form to evaluate your ability to do any sort of work.
You May Qualify for Legal Assistance
Applying for SSD can be a confusing and complicated process. Did you know that having an attorney file your paperwork nearly triples your chances of getting benefits? People who qualify for legal assistance through this website typically receive $12,000 in lump-sum backpay as well as monthly benefits. Those who apply on their own without help usually get denied benefits at least 3-4 times. If they eventually do get benefits, it takes about two years to receive their first payment.
All Social Security attorneys work on contingency. That means if the SSA won’t approve your claim, then you pay $0 for legal assistance. But if you do win, then you’ll only pay a small, one-time fee.
You can speak with an experienced disability advocate or attorney near you for free about your claim today. Click the button below to sign up for a free phone call to get confidential claim help over the phone. It’s the fastest and easiest way to get professional help with your application for benefits!
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Lori Polemenakos is Director of Consumer Content and SEO strategist for LeadingResponse, a legal marketing company. An award-winning journalist, writer and editor based in Dallas, Texas, she's produced articles for major brands such as Match.com, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, Xfinity, Mail.com, and edited several published books. Since 2016, she's published hundreds of articles about Social Security disability, workers' compensation, veterans' benefits, personal injury, mass tort, auto accident claims, bankruptcy, employment law and other related legal issues.