Qualifying for Disability with Parkinson's Disease

What is Parkinson's Disease?

Parkinson’s Disease is a neurological disorder which affects motor functioning. In most cases, the cause of Parkinson’s is unknown. In a few cases, the cause can be traced. In such instances, the cause is generally either genetic or related to drug use (legal or otherwise) or head injuries.

The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include shaking (tremors), rigidity of muscles, problems walking, difficulty speaking or inability to speak, diminished higher brain functions, loss or slowing of physical movement, and depression. As many as 80% of those with Parkinson’s Disease also deal with depression as a direct result of the effects of Parkinson’s.

The disease in not lethal in and of itself, though it often leads to early death because those with Parkinson’s are more susceptible to choking, pneumonia, and accidents. There is no known cure, though there are some medical treatments which have met with varying degrees of success. The disease is progressive in nature, meaning that symptoms tend to get worse the longer one has Parkinson’s.

Qualifying for Disability with Parkinson's Disease

What to Qualify for SSD Benefits with Parkinson's

Currently, the Social Security Administration (SSA) is in the process of holding hearings to consider whether Parkinson’s disease should qualify a Social Security Disability applicant for a compassionate allowance.

When a condition is given compassionate allowance standard, those who are diagnosed with the condition automatically qualify for Social Security disability benefits and usually begin collecting Social Security Disability benefit payments much sooner.

Until then, however, those with Parkinson’s, like people with any other disability, must demonstrate conclusively that their condition hinders them from performing any kind of work which they have performed in the past 15 years or for which they could reasonably be trained.

In most cases, proving that you cannot be expected to train for new kinds of employment is not difficult with Parkinson’s. However, proving that you are incapable of continuing to perform work which you have previously performed might be, depending on what kinds of work you have done.

It is generally a good idea for anyone applying for Social Security Disability benefits to consult and obtain representation by a qualified Social Security Disability lawyer. It’s especially important for those with conditions like Parkinson’s disease which can affect a person’s cognitive ability and ability to speak.

You are entitled to representation at all stages of the Social Security disability process, both during your initial claim and during any steps of the appeals process which may be necessary before your claim is approved.

Differences Between SSI and SSDI Benefits

Depending on your circumstances, you may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or both. SSDI eligibility is based on your work history and how much you have paid into the program during the years you worked.

SSI eligibility is based on your financial need. To qualify for either program, you will need to be determined to be completely disabled by the SSA.

If you have Parkinson’s disease, you should contact the SSA immediately and let them know that you plan to file for Social Security Disability benefits. Then, you should contact a Social Security disability lawyer.

While some Parkinson’s sufferers have relatively mild symptoms which increase slowly over time, others degenerate rapidly. It’s best to have the representation you need before your condition becomes severe enough to make representing yourself difficult.

Additional Resources