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If your Multiple Sclerosis interferes with your ability to work, you may be eligible for disability benefits

If you or a loved one is suffering from Multiple Sclerosis (MS) – a chronic disease that affects the central nervous system, which is the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves – it’s important to know that financial support is available.

Everyone’s MS is different. You may be able to manage your MS at the moment – but if your symptoms worsen and you become unable to work – you could end up losing your livelihood.

Social Security Disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA) are designed to help ease any financial strain caused by a severe, long-term disability such as MS – and provide an opportunity for you to live a more comfortable life.

In reality, applying for Social Security Disability Benefits in Seattle and the surrounding area is an arduous process – America has some of the strictest eligibility standards in the world.

What’s more, while the Social Security and Supplemental Security Income disability programs are supposed to keep people with disabilities out of poverty, pay outs haven’t increased since 1972.

Make no mistake, social security benefits in the US are lower than in the majority of developed nations.

That being said, if your income has fallen off a cliff due to MS, disability benefits do provide a welcome safety net of sorts.

This blog will shed light on whether you are eligible for Social Security disability benefits with MS as well as the complex Social Security Disability Claims process. Let’s get started.

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What is MS?

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a condition that can affect the brain and spinal cord, causing a wide range of symptoms including fatigue, difficulty walking, numbness or tingling in different parts of the body, blurred vision and much more.

According to the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), 250,000–350,000 people in the United States are living with MS, although the National Multiple Sclerosis Society estimates the number could be closer to one million.

There are four types of MS:

Clinically isolated syndrome (CIS)
This is a single, first episode, with symptoms lasting at least 24 hours. If another episode occurs at a later date, a doctor might diagnose relapse-remitting MS.

Relapse-remitting MS (RRMS)
The most common form of RRMS. Around 85% of MS sufferers are initially diagnosed with RRMS. This involves episodes of new or increasing symptoms, followed by periods of remission, during which symptoms go away partially or totally.

Primary progressive MS (PPMS)
With PPMS, symptoms worsen progressively, without any relapses or remissions. Approximately 15% of people with MS have PPMS.

Secondary progressive MS (SPMS)
Initially MS sufferers will experience episodes of relapse and remission, but then the disease will start to progress steadily.

All told, people’s reactions to MS can be as varied and unpredictable as the condition itself. This means that while some MS sufferers will qualify for disability benefits, others won’t.

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Am I eligible for Social Security Disability Benefits with MS?

It depends on the severity of your symptoms. To qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, you must meet the SSA’s requirements for MS, which are described under their Blue Book listing 11.09 (or 111.09 for children).

In essence, you will need documented proof of:

*Your inability to effectively control the movement of at least two extremities (either both legs, both arms, or an arm and a leg). This must result in extreme difficulty in your ability to balance while standing or walking, to stand up from a seated position, or to use your arms and/or hands.


* ‘Marked’ (i.e severely limiting) physical problems along with a ‘marked’ limitation any one of the following: thinking (understanding, remembering, or using information); social interactions; concentrating or finishing tasks.

The National MS Society (NMSS) has also noted that, while MS has a listing under number 11.09, a person’s symptoms may qualify under two further listings:

* 2.00 Special senses and speech
This may be used if MS causes visual impairments or issues with speech.

*12.00 Mental disorders
May be used if MS causes mood or cognitive disorders.

In addition, your impairment must also be expected to or has already exceeded 12 months.

If you’re not found to be disabled under a disability listing, the SSA will evaluate your ability to hold a job based on your current impairments, age, education, and work experience.

Wondering whether you can claim disability benefits due to MS? We don’t blame you: there’s a great deal of confusion around the criteria. Call Sampson Dunlap LLP today and let us help clear up any concerns.

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We are here to support you. That is why you do not pay for our services until we win.

Gather your evidence

To qualify for disability benefits under the SSA’s multiple sclerosis listing, it is imperative that you have a diagnosis of MS.

The test most commonly used to help diagnose MS is Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), closely followed by the spinal tap or lumbar puncture.

You’ll also need to gather any medical information that may help your claim. Case in point? Consider asking for medical reports from physicians, letters from your doctor(s), records of hospitalizations, and any statements from professionals and third parties who can attest to the effects of your condition.

As part of the process, the SSA office may reach out to request more information to help them make a decision.

We can’t stress enough how important it is to emphasize the difficulties you face in daily life when applying for disability benefits with MS. Whatever you do, don’t downplay your problems.

There is no need to be embarrassed or feel ashamed: the fact that you can’t work fulltime does not mean you’re not a good person, parent, spouse etc. Remember: you’re the same person after diagnosis as you were before.

In addition to medical records, the SSA will require you to supply financial and employment information. All the information you need to complete your disability claim can be found here.

How do I apply?

Once you have the necessary medical and non-medical paperwork in place, it’s time to lodge your application.

This can be done online, by phone (1-800-772-1213; TTY 1-800-325-0778; 8am-7pm, Mon-Fri) or in person. Please note: applications for children can only be processed in person.

During the application process, you should, under no circumstance, return to work. This is because the SSA clearly lists returning to work as one of several potential reasons an applicant may not be awarded benefits.

Once you have filed your claim, it’s an agonizing waiting game – with the wait time for a decision lasting anywhere from a month to over a year.

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We are here to support you. That is why you do not pay for our services until we win.

What should I do if I am denied Social Security Benefits?

If you are denied social security benefits with MS, know that you are not alone. It’s not unusual for an initial claim for disability benefits to be denied. According to the SSA, the average acceptance rate of initial applications is a meagre 22%.

A denial doesn’t mean it’s time to give up trying to obtain the benefits you both need and deserve.

First up, you can file for reconsideration – provided your appeal takes place within 60 days of receiving notice of the SSA’s decision to turn down your claim – and have the SSA review your case again.

If your request for reconsideration is denied, you will need to appeal. Your case will then be referred to an administrative law judge (ALJ) who will make a decision to either uphold the SSA’s decision or to overturn it and grant you disability benefits. The appeals process is how most claimants with MS are approved.

Always ask for help

Applying for Disability Benefits with MS can be difficult and daunting, but you don’t have to go it alone.

A trusted Sampson Dunlap Social Security disability lawyer can support you through the entire process from the very start.

We’re on a mission to make dealing with the disability system less stressful and more successful for you.

Our 30+ years of experience in Social Security Disability Claims means we are well versed in the eligibility and application process – and can help structure your claim so that you stand a better chance of being granted disability benefits.

Receiving these benefits will undoubtedly improve the fortunes of people with MS and their families, enabling them to lead a financially stable life.

If you’re ready to get the benefits you’re entitled to, don’t delay: speak to Sampson Dunlap today. We look forward to hearing from you.
If you or someone you know is unable to work due to illness, injury, or disability, talk to us.
Contact us

We are here to support you. That is why you do not pay for our services until we win.