Can I get Social Security Disability for Parkinson's Disease?

Can I get Social Security Disability for Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder. It affects neurons that make dopamine in a specific area of the brain. Symptoms usually appear slowly over years and are different from person to person. If you think you may have Parkinson’s, learn about the common symptoms and then develop a treatment plan.

Are you wondering if you can qualify for disability benefits? It is a common question during the diagnosis process. In fact, we recently received this question from a reader:

Question: Can I get Social Security disability benefits for Parkinson’s?

Answer: Yes, it’s listed in the Social Security Administration’s blue book as an eligible disability under neurological disorders.

What Symptoms Does Parkinson’s Typically Cause?

According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, there are several early signs of this progressive disease. These include:

  • Slight shaking in either your hands or chin
  • Changes in either your handwriting size or style
  • Constipation
  • Loss of smell
  • Trouble sleeping

In fact, fatigue is a major reason why people with Parkinson’s often need to stop working. If that describes you or a loved one, then it’s time for you to apply for monthly disability payments.

What the SSA Looks for in Disability Claimants with Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinsonian syndrome qualifies for SSDI when you have motor function disorganization in two limbs that severely limits your ability to do one or more of the following:

  • Stand up from a seated position
  • Remain balanced while standing or walking
  • Use your arms

In addition, the above must apply to you despite receiving a doctor’s treatment for at least 3 consecutive months.

You may also qualify for SSDI if you experience noticeable limitation in the following areas despite following your doctor’s prescribed treatment for at least 3 consecutive months:

  • Physical functioning and understanding
  • Remembering or applying information
  • Interacting with others; concentrating
  • Persisting or maintaining pace
  • Adapting or managing yourself

HELPFUL TIP: Watch this video from Parkinson’s expert Jill Ater. She’s a Davis Phinney Foundation Ambassador who’s lived with Parkinson’s for 13 years. In it, she talks about her experience getting disability benefits and why it’s smart to work with a lawyer from the beginning.

The SSA Will Likely Approve Your Application for SSD Benefits on Your First Try

Studies show 2 in 3 Parkinson’s patients who apply for SSD within 5 years of symptom onset get benefits on their first try. Parkinson’s disease causes a big economic burden for patients as well as caregivers. As a result, it’s important to apply for sooner rather than later. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) provides insurance benefits to U.S. workers who already paid into the system via payroll taxes. However, you must prove you’re no longer able to work due to a medical condition before you can draw these payments.

Researchers at the Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Center at the University of South Florida in Tampa performed a study on PD patients’ experience with SSDI. PD patients diagnosed before age 60 were invited to participate in a survey concerning their employment history and experience with SSDI. Out of 68 patients, 82% felt they were too disabled to work full-time starting about 3.4 years after PD diagnosis.

Patients applied for SSDI at a mean of 5 years after diagnosis. About two-thirds of PD patients who applied for SSDI obtained it on their first attempt. The primary debilitating symptom that subjectively contributed to work disability was fatigue (49% of patients).

IMPORTANT: Patients who got SSDI had extensive documentation of physician visits and a disability lawyer helping them file.

Develop a Treatment Plan

Once you have your diagnosis, help is available to ensure you can still enjoy a high quality of life. Your doctor may refer you to a neurologist who specializes in the brain. You may be able to receive care from an occupational therapist, physical therapist, or speech therapist. It can be helpful to start a regular exercise program to help manage symptoms. It’s also important to talk regularly with family and friends to receive the support you need.

If you or your loved one experiences the symptoms described above, it’s time to contact a Social Security attorney. This is the best way to ensure you receive the monthly payments you or your family members need. Your doctor will assess your symptoms and discuss with you any dizziness, stooping or leaning movements, and trouble moving or walking that you’ve noticed.

Gather Your Medical Records and Reach Out to a Disability Lawyer

Once you have a Parkinson’s diagnosis, you can then work with a lawyer to apply for disability benefits. All disability lawyers we can connect you with work on contingency. In other words, they only get paid if you secure benefits.

To talk with someone in our network at no upfront cost, click the button below today.

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Laura Schaefer is the author of The Teashop Girls, The Secret Ingredient, and Littler Women: A Modern Retelling. She is also an active co-author or ghostwriter of several nonfiction books on personal and business development. Laura currently lives in Windermere, Florida with her husband and daughter and works with clients all over the world. Visit her online at and