For those suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS), your condition may be severe enough to give you difficulties with standing, balancing, walking, or fine motor function. Fortunately, the Social Security Administration (SSA) includes multiple sclerosis as one of the listed conditions that could potentially qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD). For help applying, or for representation while fighting a denial, contact our experienced Social Security Disability lawyers. Our Fayetteville AR disability lawyers help you file applications, provide the SSA with evidence to prove their condition, and fight denials to help disabled individuals get the benefits they need.
The Social Security Disability benefits process is challenging and complicated. More than half of all initial applications are denied. Sometimes this is because of a clerical error when completing the forms. However, it is usually because the claimant failed to provide sufficient medical evidence to support their claim. Our office will help you avoid common mistakes and gather the necessary medical documentation the SSA requires.
Multiple sclerosis could be debilitating. If your condition is severe, you might need monthly disability benefit payments to pay your household expenses. Because of this necessity, you want to do everything to increase your chances that your disability benefits application is approved. The first step in that direction is contacting our law offices at (479) 316-0438.
Does the SSA Recognize MS for Disability Applications?
The SSA keeps a “Listing of Impairments” that qualify for disability. This list, sometimes called the “Blue Book,” is never the ultimate deciding factor of whether or not you qualify for disability payments. However, having a listed condition does help show the SSA that your condition is severe and you need disability benefits.
The SSA lists multiple sclerosis under its neurological disorders. Most people with MS understand that MS is typically associated with the immune system, but the SSA lists it with neurological disorders. Since MS is a disorder characterized by an immune system that attacks the lining of the nerves, it is easiest for the SSA to group it with neurological disorders, rather than immune system disorders. If you were already researching multiple sclerosis’ eligibilities for SSD, it might have been difficult to locate MS on the listing because of this organization – but rest assured that MS is indeed listed in the SSA’s accepted disabilities.
If your condition is listed on the SSA’s list of conditions, the SSA automatically recognizes that these conditions can be quite severe and sees that they may require SSD payments. In addition to having a listed condition, you must prove to the SSA that you are, in fact, “disabled” by showing the condition is “severe.” To qualify as disabled, your condition must be severe enough that it affects your day-to-day life and makes job tasks difficult.
Getting Disability Benefits for Multiple Sclerosis
If your multiple sclerosis is severe, you have a good chance of receiving Social Security Disability benefits. To qualify for benefits for your condition, you must meet the requirements of the SSA’s listing for MS or demonstrate that your condition limits your physical functioning, so you are no longer able to work.
Requirements for Multiple Sclerosis Listing
MS has a specific listing in the SSA’s blue book. More specifically, it is under Listing 11.09 and 111.09 in the section for neurological disorders. To meet the criteria under this listing, you must provide medical evidence that you have at least one of the following symptoms.
- Your condition must be severe enough to result in the inability to move or control at least two of your extremities, such as two arms, two legs, or one of each. This condition must make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for you to balance while walking or standing, stand from a seated position, or use your arm effectively.
- You must experience a severe limitation in your ability to think, remember, understand, or apply information. Or your condition must adversely impact your ability to concentrate and finish tasks. Additionally, it could also affect your ability to interact with other people.
If you do not meet the required criteria under the MS listing, you could also qualify for SSDI if you show that you meet other listing requirements because the disease has severely limited other parts of your body systems. In most cases, having one secondary impairment under another blue book listing is insufficient to qualify for Social Security benefits. However, if you can demonstrate multiple impairments, you could prove that your medical condition is disabling. It is important to have our experienced Arkansas Social Security Disability lawyers assisting you in gathering the required medical documentation.
Medical Evidence for Multiple Sclerosis Disability Benefits
To qualify for SSDI benefits, you must provide ample medical evidence to support your claim that your condition limits your ability to work. If you want to receive benefits for MS, you must provide medical documentation.
First, it is crucial to show you have been diagnosed with MS. A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test is often used to diagnose MS. However, other conditions could result in abnormalities on your brain scan. Part of the required evidence is a detailed written report by the radiologist who administered the test.
Another tool to help diagnose MS is a lumbar puncture or spinal tap. Unfortanelty, several proteins could be present in the cerebrospinal fluid that indicate the presence of multiple sclerosis. Therefore, these tests by themselves are usually not conclusive. Nonetheless, they could serve as part of a larger body of medical evidence.
The medical evidence provided must support a multiple sclerosis diagnosis. The Social Security Administration will not necessarily accept your doctor’s statement that you have multiple sclerosis. There is a significant chance that your condition was misdiagnosed. However, if your doctor’s claim is supported by reasonable and sufficient evidence, the SSA will give it more weight.
If you want to improve your chances of approval, the medical documentation should include reports and test results from your treating doctor and other specialists. For example, you could provide the result of eye tests that demonstrate a severe loss of peripheral vision or visual efficiency. However, it should be noted that the SSA is very strict for claimants alleging a visual impairment. Your eyesight must be so limited that, even with the best possible correction, your eyesight is 20/200 or worse. Most MS patients will not suffer a visual impairment that qualifies for SSDI benefits. Our Bentonville Social Security Disability attorneys will work closely with your doctors to help build your case.
Your MS Must Limit Your Ability to Work
If you suffer from MS but do not meet the requirements in the Blue Book listing, the SSA will still evaluate your ability to work based on your age, education, experience, and medical impairment. The Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) form will be used to assess your mental and physical limitations.
The SSA will create an RFC for you that will list your physical limitations. For example, the RFC will detail your ability to stand, walk, and sit. In addition, it will evaluate your capability to lift, move, or carry items. If you suffer from MS, your capacity for completing these physical tasks could be significantly hindered by your difficulties with balancing. Furthermore, if you suffer weakness or numbness in your arms or legs, it will be included in your RFC.
The RFC will also assess your mental capabilities and limitations. If you struggle to understand or remember instructions, it should be noted on your RFC. Many people who have multiple sclerosis often experience memory loss and find it challenging to concentrate on a specific task. Our Rogers Social Security Disability lawyers will ensure that these limitations are included in your medical record or documentation. If your secondary conditions are severe enough to prevent you from working, you could qualify for monthly disability benefits.
Additional Requirements for Qualifying for SSD with Multiple Sclerosis
Sometimes, people suffering from MS may not be totally incapacitated and may be able to perform some work tasks. In many cases, however, your MS may be severe enough to make many of these tasks extremely difficult or painful. The SSA should take into account what you can do comfortably, rather than what tasks you could possibly perform.
If you are still able to work to some extent with your MS, the SSA has tools for determining your eligibility. The question involved with this aspect of your application is whether your condition is truly severe enough to require disability benefits. If you can work to some extent, but doing so is slow and difficult, or you can only work for limited hours or days, you may still qualify for disability.
If you can still work, the SSA may gauge your ability to perform “substantial gainful activity.” If you are able to perform work-related tasks, but by doing so you are not able to make at least $1,310 per month, the SSA should consider your condition severe enough to qualify for SSD. This $1,310 per month figure is the standard the SSA has chosen for 2021 as the minimum amount you need to be gainfully employed and support yourself. (If you are also blind, this number is raised to $2,190 per month.) If your MS makes it impossible to work at a job that can give you this minimum level of income, then you may be eligible for disability income.
Keep in mind that “disability benefits” usually come in two forms. Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) is available to Americans who have worked for many years and accumulated “work credits.” These individuals may be able to claim Social Security benefits for their disability whether they have reached retirement age or not – though there may be a penalty for taking benefits earlier. Alternatively, those who have not worked or have not accumulated enough credits may qualify for the need-based Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Either way, through SSDI or SSI, you must first qualify with a severe, listed condition to get the benefits.
When you apply for disability, the SSA will examine your application, look at your work credits, and determine whether you qualify for benefits – and which type you qualify for. Having an attorney assist with your application can help you ensure that your application contains all of the information and evidence needed to make your application full and accurate.
Fayetteville Disability Attorney for Multiple Sclerosis
If you have multiple sclerosis and are considering applying for Social Security Disability benefits, talk to one of our experienced Springdale Social Security Disability attorneys today. For a free consultation on your disability application or denial, call our law offices today at (479) 316-0438.