Multiple Sclerosis and Social Security Disability Benefits

Social Security Disability Benefits for Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an illness that causes your immune system to attack the myelin, the protective sheath, covering your nerves, and unfortunately, there is currently no cure. Damage to the myelin leads to disruptions in communications between the body and the brain, and eventually, the nerves may deteriorate.

The signs and symptoms of MS can vary from person to person depending on how far along the disease is and how much the nerves are affected. For example, someone who has severe MS may be in a wheelchair because they can no longer walk while others might experience a period of remission and display no signs of MS.

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
  • Tremors
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • 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:

  1. Relapsing-remitting
  2. Primary progressive
  3. Secondary progressive, and
  4. 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.

Multiple Sclerosis And SSD

In order to qualify for SSD, you must meet the qualifications for SSD outlined by the Social Security Administration (SSA). This means you must have MS for at least one year and the condition prohibits you from doing any work that results in gainful employment. However, it can be challenging for people with MS to meet the criteria since the illness can be episodic, so there are periods of visible symptoms mixed with times when you are seemingly functional (these times are called remissions). If you haven’t had an episode in six months or more, it can be challenging to prove disability.

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 you may be awarded SSD benefits. Additionally, if you have an advanced or severe case of MS, it increases your chances of approval.

The Blue Book criteria mean you must show you have issues with at least one of the following:

  • Severely decreased vision that is not able to be corrected with 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

You will also need to provide sufficient medical evidence supporting your claim that MS makes you disabled. This should contain your official MS diagnosis, test results including for MRIs spinal taps and CT scans, doctor notes, treatments you’ve taken or currently take, reports and notes from any specialists, and medical records.

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.

Get Free Professional Legal Assistance

Applying for SSD can be a confusing and complicated process, especially if you’re experiencing symptoms from multiple sclerosis. So you might consider enlisting professional help. You can speak with an experienced disability advocate or attorney to help you determine what information to include in your application and make sure that you don’t leave any important information out.

Get Your Free Benefits Evaluation