Multiple Sclerosis is a neurological condition that causes inflammation of the myelin sheaths, which are responsible for the protection of communication between the brain and spinal chord. Multiple sclerosis cases vary in symptoms and severity, as the disease can affect both physical and mental functioning.
Put simply, Multiple Sclerosis interferes with the brain’s ability to communicate with the rest of the body through the spinal chord, and with the rest of the body’s ability to communicate with the brain. This causes a shorter life expectancy and a host of physical and mental symptoms for sufferers.
Some of the more common symptoms of multiple sclerosis which can affect your ability to perform meaningful work (and therefore affect your eligibility for Social Security Disability benefits) are neurological symptoms (and MS sufferers can run the whole gamut of neurological symptoms), cognitive impairment, and loss of physical ability due to the interrupted communication between muscles and the brain.
Multiple Sclerosis is listed as a potentially disabling neurological condition by the Social Security Administration. While this doesn’t mean that everyone with MS will automatically qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, it does mean that the SSA has defined standards by which your symptoms can be judged to determine whether you are eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. To be considered for Social Security disability benefits for MS, you should make sure your condition matches the standards put forth by the SSA in their Blue Book.
Multiple Sclerosis and Your Ability to Perform Physical Work
For many who suffer from Multiple Sclerosis, work requiring any degree of physical activity is simply impossible. The Social Security Administration considers you fully disabled from multiple sclerosis if you have functional disorganization in two or more of your major limbs (arms and legs). You may also qualify for Social Security Disability benefits if you have lost the ability to perform repetitive actions due to loss of manual dexterity.
Another symptom which typically qualifies MS sufferers for Social Security Disability benefits is visual impairment. To qualify based on vision problems, you must qualify according to the guidelines laid out regarding visual impairment rather than the guidelines specifically geared towards Multiple Sclerosis.
Any conditions which limit your ability to walk, stand, sit, push, pull, lift, bend, or perform any other physical activity should be noted on your Social Security disability application, whether the symptoms are related to your multiple sclerosis or not. A Social Security Disability lawyer can prove helpful in how your symptoms should be reported.
In addition to the fact that they can handle much of the paperwork for you, a qualified Social Security Disability attorney or advocate will know better than the typical claimant what kinds of information the SSA is looking for when adjudicating your Social Security Disability claim.
Multiple Sclerosis and Your Ability to Perform Sedentary Work
Multiple Sclerosis may not immediately affect your ability to work if your employer is able to reasonably accommodate it. For example, you may be able to move workspaces to accommodate reduced mobility, or you may be able to use adaptive devices to make up for reduced vision or dexterity. However, your condition can change over time, and sometimes many of the symptoms of MS prohibit sufferers from performing jobs which are sedentary in nature. Sedentary jobs are jobs which typically require you to sit in one place for several hours at a time.
Many sedentary jobs (especially those available to unskilled workers) involve a need for manual dexterity. Many who suffer from Multiple Sclerosis are unable to perform this kind of work due to the damaged communication between their brains and their hands.
In addition, symptoms such as chronic headaches and mental disorders are common amongst multiple sclerosis sufferers, and any of these conditions can be considered disabling if they are severe enough to hinder you from performing work for which you are qualified or could be trained.
Applying for Social Security Benefits
As with applying for any condition, the process to apply for benefits based on your condition can be a confusing ordeal. However, you can find some resources about applying with multiple sclerosis here:
- Applying for Disability Benefits With Multiple Sclerosis
- Tips for applying for Benefits With Multiple Sclerosis
In addition, if you have malignant multiple sclerosis, you may qualify for a Compassionate Allowance, which can allow you to qualify for benefits in less that ten days. You can find out more about that process here:
Consult with a Social Security Attorney
If your disability claim is not initially accepted, you should consult a Social Security Disability lawyer. An experience Social Security Disability attorney can help you put your appeal together and will give you the best chances of ultimately having your claim accepted during the Social Security Disability appeals process.