Monday, January 21, 2013

Applying for Social Security Disability with Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Every competent Social Security Disability lawyers knows that applying for Social Security Benefits with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) can be a complex task due to the episodic nature of this condition.  It is well known that, in many cases involving MS, there are periods of time when the condition makes a person very sick and periods when there are little to no symptoms.  However, with the right strategy and suficient medical evidence, claimants have a good chance of being awarded Social Security Disability Benefits. 

Multiple Sclerosis is an autoimune condition that affects the central nervous system, the brain, the spine and the optic nerve.  MS affects the myelin (a the fatty substance that surrounds and protects the nerve fibers in the central nervous system), as well as the nerve fibers themselves. The damaged myelin forms scar tissue (sclerosis), which gives the disease its name. When any part of the myelin sheath or nerve fiber is damaged or destroyed, nerve impulses traveling to and from the brain and spinal cord are distorted or interrupted, producing the variety of symptoms that can occur.  Symptoms include: fatigue, numbness, walking (gait) balance, & coordination problems, bladder dysfunction, bowel dysfunction, vision problems, dizziness and vertigo, pain, cognitive dysfunction, emotional changes, depression and spasticity.
There are two basic ways that a person can qualify for Social Security benefits due to Multiple Sclerosis. An individual can meet the requirements of a listing set out in Social Security's list of qualifying impairments or show that he or she is unable to work.
Social Security uses the Listings of Impairments manual as their guide to determine whether a claimant meets or not the Social Security Administration's requirements for total disability.  The listing for Multiple Sclerosis is found in Section 11.09.  Section 11.09 states that in order to meet the lisitng of impairments, the claimant must suffer from one of the following:

  1. Disorganization of motor function; 

  2. Visual or mental impairment; or

  3. Significant, reproducible fatigue of motor function with substantial muscle weakness on repetitive activity, demonstrated on physical examination, resulting from neurological dysfunction in areas of the central nervous system known to be pathologically involved by the multiple sclerosis process.
Please note that the lisiting provides a very specific definition of each one of these symptoms.  For a more detailed definition click on the link:   Claimants must prove that they suffer from symptoms of the level of severity specified in the listing in order to be found to meet from one of these three characteristics. 
If a claimant's condition is severe but not at the same or equal level of severity as a medical condition on the list, then the Social Security Administration must go to step 4 and 5 of the disability process and determine if the condition interferes with the person's ability to do the work that he or she did previously (during the last 15 years).
If the claimant cannot do the work performed in the past 15 years, the Social Security Administration will see if he or she is able to adjust to other work. The Social Security Administration will consider the persons' medical conditions as well as his or her age, education, past work experience and any transferable skills that the claimant  may have. If the claimant cannot adjust to other work, the claim will be approved. If the claimant can adjust to other work, the claim will be denied.
To support our friends in the Connecticut chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society visit:
For our firends in the Massachusetts Chapter visit: