Social Security Disability and Multiple Sclerosis

October 2, 2015

Multiple sclerosis is a disease that can be found in the Social Security Administration’s list of impairments under neurological disorders under Multiple Sclerosis (11.09). However, MS is a complicated, progressive disease that affects the central nervous system. The symptoms will worsen over time with increasing loss of function at some times and other times there will be no symptoms at all.

This tendency for MS to go into remission for weeks or months at a time and for the symptoms to recur can make qualifying for Social Security Disability with MS a bit challenging. The Social Security Administration is, of course, aware of the episodic nature of the disease, so they take into consideration the length and frequency of your episodes of illness and impairments that the disease causes.

Symptoms of MS

Some of the symptoms of multiple sclerosis may include:

  • Vertigo
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Muscle weakness
  • Muscle spasms
  • Loss of balance
  • Fatigue
  • Bladder and bowel problems
  • Difficulty concentrating and remembering
  • Speech problems
  • Vision problems
  • Numbness & tingling in the face, arms and legs
  • Difficulty chewing and swallowing

Due to the episodic and progressive nature of the disease, the symptoms that a person has will come and go with varying severity, which over time will grow worse and increasingly debilitating until the person may end up in a wheelchair.

Diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis

In order to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, you must be able to supply sufficient medical evidence showing that you have been diagnosed with MS. Medical tests that can diagnose MS include;

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • Spinal tap
  • Electroencephalograph (EEG)
  • CT Scans

In addition to the diagnosis, your doctor needs to run tests that demonstrate the level of impairment. If you are claiming that MS has impaired your vision, you must furnish an eye exam that shows the decrease in vision. There must be medical evidence to back up all of the impairments that you claim are making it impossible for you to perform substantial and gainful activity (SGA).

Qualifying for Social Security Disability with MS

In order to be found to be disabled with a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, your medical evidence must meet the SSA’s listing for MS, which includes:

  1. “Disorganization of motor function as described in 11.04B; or
  2. Visual or mental impairment as described under the criteria in 2.02, 2.03, 2.04, or 12.02; or
  3. Significant, reproducible fatigue of motor function with substantial muscle weakness on repetitive activity, demonstrated on physical examination, resulting from neurological dysfunction in areas of the central nervous system known to be pathologically involved by the multiple sclerosis process.”

If your medical condition does not meet the criteria in the SSAs impairment listings, they will assess your ability to work based on the impairments that you have now, your age, your  level of education and work experience. The Social Security Administration will use a residual functional capacity (RFC) form both physical and mental for people with MS to assess your physical and mental impairments and compare them to jobs that are available that also meet your education and level of skill and experience.

The Social Security Administration will take all of your medical evidence, the diagnostic tests, the results of your RFC tests, statements from your doctor and any other applicable evidence to prove that your MS symptoms prevent you from working and have thus rendered your permanently disabled.

If you or your family member has multiple sclerosis, the Philadelphia Social Security Disability lawyers of Larry Pitt & Associates may be able to help. Please contact us to make an appointment to discuss your SSD needs. We are proud to serve clients in and around Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia Counties.