Multiple Sclerosis and Disability
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease estimated to affect over 2 million people worldwide – typically diagnosed between the ages of twenty and fifty. The cause of MS has yet to be determined, but scientists have determined several different important factors that may cause the immune system of the body to attack the central nervous system, including smoking, low Vitamin D levels, infectious factors, and even genetic factors.
Since MS is a chronic and unpredictable disease, it can be debilitating and difficult to maintain employment. MS symptoms can include blurred vision, loss of balance, poor coordination, slurred speech, tremors, extreme fatigue, problems with memory and concentration, and even paralysis. The problems may come and go, or they may be constant. Further, they have been known to worsen over time.
Unfortunately, while there is currently no cure for MS, there are FDA-approved medications that may reduce inflammation in the central nervous system and thereby reduce the frequency and severity of MS attacks, and may also help to slow the progression of disability.
Given the unpredictability and severity of MS symptoms, it can be difficult to hold down substantial gainful employment, and therefore, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) may be a viable option.
To qualify for SSDI or SSI on the basis of MS, you must meet or medically equal Listing 11.09, which requires either:
- Proof of “an extreme limitation … in the ability to stand up from a seated position, balance while standing or walking, or use the upper extremities”
2. Marked limitation in both physical functioning, and in one of the following:
- Understanding, remembering or applying information;
- Interacting with others;
- Concentration, persisting or maintaining pace; or
- Adapting or managing oneself.
Unfortunately, most MS patients treat with neurologists who are not used to keeping clinical notes on the four mental health issues. Therefore, if you have MS and are regularly under the care of a neurologist, please speak with them about the importance of noting your ability to perform the four mental health activities referenced above. It may be the difference between a successful and unsuccessful disability claim.