The following guest post - Applying for Disability with MS - will hopefully answer some questions you have about this perplexing subject. Cir was one of the "lucky" ones, whose application was approved the very first time he applied. We did everything right, I suppose. This article, by Deanna Power, Community Outreach Manager, Social Security Disability Help - should help point you in the right direction as you start this somewhat confusing process.
More than 400,000 people in the United States have multiple sclerosis (MS), and many of them receive Social Security disability benefits. Although a diagnosis of MS does not automatically qualify you for benefits, when the disease progresses to the point that it prevents you from working, you can meet the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) eligibility rules.
If you medically qualify for benefits, you may be able to receive support through one or both of the SSA’s disability programs. Benefits are paid monthly and can be used to cover every day bills and living expenses as well as medical costs.
(NOTE: Links open in a new window.)
With MS, you may qualify for benefits through Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Both programs require you meet the SSA’s medical eligibility rules, but each also has its own technical qualification standards.
Medically qualifying for disability with MS requires you meet the MS listing in the SSA’s Blue Book or that you’re able to prove your functional limitations are severe enough that they prevent you from working at all even though you don’t meet the SSA’s listing.
Multiple sclerosis is a recognized disability but must be in its advanced stages to meet the SSA’s listed medical requirements. There are three ways to qualify for disability benefits with MS. The MS listing notes that you must experience one of the following:
1. You must experience disorganized motor function that affects your ability to stand, walk, hold yourself upright, grasp, reach, or perform other tasks that require dexterity.
2. You experience sensory or intellectual impairments, including:
3. You experience pronounced fatigue or muscle weakness that can be demonstrated and reproduced during physical exams, especially following repetitive activities.
Regardless of which part of the MS listing you may meet, you must have substantial medical records showing you’ve received ongoing care from a qualified physician and that your MS is formally diagnosed and well documented.
Although many people with MS can qualify under the SSA’s listing for the condition, some may not meet the listing but still be unable to work due to their symptoms and MS-related complications. If you can’t meet the listing, you may still be able to qualify for benefits by showing through a “residual functional capacity” (RFC) analysis that you are unable to get and keep any job due to your physical and/or mental limitations.
An RFC looks at your daily activities and your everyday physical and mental challenges. If the SSA finds that you cannot work in any job for which you otherwise hold the appropriate skills, education, experience, or training, then you will be granted disability benefits.
With MS, you can apply for benefits at any time and have a strong chance of being approved, provided you meet the technical eligibility rules for SSDI and/or SSI. The average applicant is initially approved around 35% of the time, but keep in mind that this is including all applicants. People applying for a mental illness or young adults applying may have a more challenging time getting approved than adults with MS.
If you are applying for SSDI benefits, you can apply entirely online. For SSI however, you will need to submit an application with your local office, as a personal interview is a standard part of the process. You can schedule an appointment with your local office by calling the SSA toll-free at 1-800-772-1213.
Now that you've read - Applying for Disability with MS - you will have the resources to help you be successful in getting your benefits. If you liked this article and would like more, please let us know by using the form below.