Multiple sclerosis (MS) is classified as an autoimmune disease that alters the nervous system so that it may be hard to work. Women are affected more than men and it occurs more often in the 20 to 40 age group, but any age can be affected. Common symptoms are:
- weakness at your extremities;
- losing balance;
- muscle spasms that are painful;
- blurry vision;
- cognitive impairments.
A neurological exam should be able to identify the symptoms that indicate MS is present, but it may not always be reliable. It is typically diagnosed once your physician has ruled out anything else. If you are experiencing fatigue and muscle weakness, poor vision, or uncontrolled movements which have been diagnosed as due to MS, you could be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA).
Is MS a Disability?
MS is considered a disability by the Social Security Administration (SSA). If you meet the medical requirements outlined by the SSA for MS, the SSA will consider you disabled and you will be able to receive Social Security disability benefits.
When you are applying for SSDI, the SSA evaluates your claim using the list of impairments found in its Blue Book. The Blue Book is the list of conditions that qualify for disability. If your MS symptoms meet the Blue Book listing found in Section 11.00 you will be approved for disability benefits. The symptoms are:
- involuntary movements;
- loss of control of body movements;
- sensory disturbances;
- visual impairments.
Mental impairments caused by the dysfunction of the brain may need to be proved as well such as:
- Ongoing loss of specific cognitive abilities which according to medical evidence you are disoriented when it comes to time and place and you experience disturbances in perception, thinking, or mood, changes in personality, inability to control emotions or impulses, or loss of measured intellectual ability of at least 15 I.Q. points from original I.Q.
- Obvious restrictions in your ability to do daily living activities, persistent mental instability and difficulties in concentration
- Proof of history of a chronic organic mental disorder that's persisted for at least two years and means the victim of MS is unable to function except in a highly supported environment.
Eligibility for Social Security Disability (SSDI) Benefits for Multiple Sclerosis
If you have been diagnosed with MS, you may suffer from symptoms that make it difficult to work. MS comes under the SSA’s “list of Impairments” which means certain criteria for MS need to be met in order to qualify that you as disabled. The qualifications for MS are found described under the Blue Book listing 11.09.
To be classified as disabled under the listing, you must provide proof of your lack of ability to control the movement of either both arms, both legs or an arm and a leg. This also means you have extreme difficulty with balance while walking or standing, getting up from a seat to stand up, or being able to use your arms and/or hands. You can use non-physical tasks as well which include:
- your lack of ability to think, understand, remember, or use information,
- difficulties with social interactions,
- difficulties in concentrating or completing tasks.
If MS has been diagnosed, but your symptoms fail to meet the criteria in the listing 11.09 you may still qualify for disability benefits, based on the SSA’s “medical-vocational”(med-voc) guidelines that means you are not able to undertake a job. Your residual functional capacity (RFC) is used to judge your ability to work.
Your RFC, whether it is light, sedentary, medium, or heavy, is seen as the most strenuous kind of work the SSA feels you can do on a regular basis. If, for example, you have muscle fatigue due to MS and you cannot stand or walk for 6 hours a day, your RFC should be classified as sedentary.
How Much Does Disability Pay For Multiple Sclerosis?
If you are unable to work because of Multiple Sclerosis, you may qualify for disability benefits. The amount that you can receive for your monthly disability benefits can vary greatly.
The amount you receive each month depends on the cost of living, your medical expenses, and your future expenses.
If you are receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), your past earnings come into play, Your monthly benefits are based on your work history and your earnings record.
As of 2024, you can earn no more than $1,550 per month and still qualify for disability benefits.
For those without a work history, or insufficient credits, they receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSI is a needs-based program, which requires specific income and resource criteria be met.
You cannot receive more than $943 per month for an individual. Those limits increase to $1,415 per month for an eligible individual with an eligible spouse.
Further Reading: What Is SSI?
A cost of living allowance (COLA) is given each year. Of course, the COLA can vary greatly. Some years it is much more than others. This could change your monthly benefit check.
You should speak with a Social Security representative to determine how much your monthly benefits check would be. A disability attorney could also help you determine how much you would receive each month based on your work history or your financial resources.
Chances of Getting a Disability Benefit With MS
The chances of getting a disability benefit with MS are greatly increased when you have ample amount of medical evidence to support your claim, also if you have earned enough work credits through your work history and that the more severe your MS is, the more likely you are to qualify for disability. Medical evidence that you can use includes:
- Medical imaging such as an MRI which indicates damage or inflammation in the brain, spinal cord, and other nerve function.
- Spinal tap which shows if there are any abnormalities present in the cerebrospinal fluid.
- Blood tests that indicate that there are no other disorders present;
- Visual testing.
- Neuropyschological I.Q. testing, such as the Luria-Nebraska or Halstead-Reitan.
- An in depth report of the symptoms of your MS compiled by doctors and psychologists you see.
- Records of hospitalizations or surgeries either directly or indirectly related to your MS.
- List of treatments offered by your doctor and your body's response to each.
To ensure you qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits (SSDI) you will need to have earned a certain number of work credits first. The number you require will depend on your age. You can earn a maximum of 4 credits each year and if you were over 62 years when you were diagnosed with MS you should have accumulated 40 work credits. The younger you are the less work credits you need. If you don’t have sufficient work credits to qualify for SSDI you may be eligible to SSI which is a benefit based on what you earn and what assets you have.
Applying For SSDI Benefits and How Much You May Receive
Your monthly payments for SSDI benefits will depend on your eligibility. If your SSDI benefit’s claim is denied, you might qualify for SSI benefits. SSDI benefits aren’t easy to get as it may depend on the amount of money you have earned and paid into social security over time.
Anybody who was assessed as being eligible for SSI in 2024 will receive $943 for one month. How much you receive depends on any other income you receive and the assets you own.
What Benefits Are MS Patients Entitled to?
If you have MS, you may be entitled to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Whichever one you are approved on depends on work and financial situation.
If you are on SSI or SSDI for MS, you also are entitled to Medicare, which is federal health insurance for those with disabilities like MS and are over the age of 65. Depending on the state you live in, you may also be entitled to state benefits as well.
You May Need to Hire A Disability Lawyer to Help You With Your MS Claim
There are many conditions that qualify for disability benefits however, over and over again claims for SSDI benefits and SSI are denied so to be more sure you get the SSDI benefit or SSI your deserve you should ask a disability lawyer to help you file your disability claim.
- What Conditions Qualify For Disability?
- SSDI Application
- Disability Lawyer
- Can You Get Disability If You Haven't Worked Enough
- Blue Book
- Can I Work With Multiple Sclerosis?
- Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits with Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
- Functional Limitations for Multiple Sclerosis