A person with multiple sclerosis may be afflicted with symptoms that range in severity and eventually make it impossible to perform their job duties. Although employers may offer short- and long-term disability benefits, a worker may need to consider applying for Social Security Disability Insurance.
MS is a chronic condition which impacts the central nervous system. The immune system attacking a healthy body part causes MS.
MS can cause numerous symptoms. These include numbness, fatigue, paralysis, and blindness. Some workers with MS may qualify for benefits while others may not.
SSDI usually provides long-term disability. To qualify, applicants have to undergo the Social Security Administration’s eligibility process. Applicants must also meet the SSA’s definition of a qualifying impairment which is anticipated to or already exceeded 12 months.
The SSA defines MS and other qualifying impairments in its listing of impairment document. According to this listing, a person with MS may qualify for SSDI if they meet one of two conditions.
First, they have extreme motor impairment in two of their extremities which limits their ability to stand, balance or use their arms. Or the person has a definite limitation in physical functioning with at least one of the following conditions:
- Trouble with interacting with others.
- Difficulty with remembering, understanding, or applying information.
- Difficulty with managing themselves.
- Concentration issues.
Other SSDI qualifying conditions may include:
- Difficulty with sight.
- Walking difficulty.
- Impairments with speech, swallowing or breathing.
- Extreme fatigue limiting the ability to think or engage in physical tasks for long periods.
- Persistent and severe pain.
MS has a listing under number 11.109. But, according to the National MS Society, the listing of 2.00 special senses and speech may apply if MS causes visual impairments or speech issues. The listing of 12.00 mental disorders may be used if MS causes cognitive disorders or mood swings.
Before applying, an applicant should consult with their doctor about the process. Applicants must have contact and demographic information about their doctor, test dates and results and a list of their medications, their use and who prescribed them.
The SSA will also seek information and proof about the applicant’s medical condition, test results, employment history, direct deposit information, education and job training and their date of birth, children, spouse, and military service. Returning to work during the application process will disqualify applicants from SSI benefits.
SSA will consider an applicant eligible if they have an impairment that last or could last up to 12 months. Applicants must also have a physical or mental impairment restricting their ability to work. These can include vision issues, fatigue, walking trouble or other severe MS symptoms.
A SSA office will review this information. Their decision on approval or denial will be mailed to the applicant.
According to SSA data, 22 percent of first-time applicants are denied benefits. Reasons for denial include the impairment being insufficiently severe, that the applicant may continue working at their current job or another profession, the impairment is not expected to last 12 months and the applicant provided insufficient medical records, did not follow treatment plans, has impairment from drug or alcohol use or returned to substantial work before the eligibility decision was made.
Applicants have 60 days to appeal a denial. The SSA has four appeal levels:
- A hearing before an administrative law judge.
- Appeals Council review.
- Proceeding before a federal court.
Applicants may unknowingly lose important rights during this complicated process. Attorneys can help them complete their applications and appeal denials.