Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system, which is made up of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. It is often a progressive disease, which means that symptoms become worse and more debilitating over time.
There are several types of MS that include different combinations of disease progression and episodes of exacerbation's (periods of sickness) and remissions (periods of little or no symptoms). The mere fact that MS is episodic and a patient is not permanently disabled by the condition can make it difficult to receive disability benefits.
Meeting the Listing of Impairments
Multiple sclerosis is listed in the Social Security Administrations (SSA) listing of impairments. To qualify, your condition must be expected to last at least 12 months. Fortunately, the SSA does recognize that MS is episodic and will take into account the frequency and length of your episodes, the time between episodes and the presence of permanent impairments during its evaluation.
If your condition is severe, you have a good chance of meeting the SSA's listing for MS and being approved for disability benefits. The listing requires that you have proof of at least one of the following:
- Significant impairments of at least two limbs that limit your ability to walk or use your hands.
- Severely diminished visibility that cannot be corrected with glasses.
- An organic mental disorder that causes memory loss, disturbances in mood or decreased IQ.
- A direct correlation between MS and severe fatigue and muscle weakness.
It may also be possible that you qualify for other conditions like loss of hearing or speech and bone fractures.
To qualify for disability benefits, you must have a documented diagnosis of MS from your doctor as well as test results alleging the impairment. This means you should have documentation from and MRI and/or a spinal tap. Additional tests that can help prove an MS diagnosis include an EEG, CT scans x-rays and evoked potentials, or exposure to stimuli. Eye tests can also demonstrate that you meet the SSA's requirements for deficient vision.
It is important that your doctor document all of your symptoms, including any fatigue or muscle weakness.
Limits to Your Ability to Work
If you do not meet the requirements for MS as outline by the disability listing, you will have to prove that your condition limits your ability to perform substantial work. The SSA will assess your physical, mental and sensory limitations through the use of a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) form.
If you meet the disability listings requirements or are able to prove that your condition limits your ability to work, you should be approved for disability benefits. If your claim is denied, contact Dayes Law Firm PC for a free consultation with our a Phoenix Social Security Disability lawyer from our team, as we may be able to help appeal the decision.