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Does Multiple Sclerosis Qualify Me for Disability Benefits?

Posted on in Social Security Disability Medical Conditions

b2ap3_thumbnail_Multiple-Sclerosis-Chicago.jpgMultiple sclerosis (MS), an immune system disorder, is a serious disease of the central nervous system that can cause a wide variety of symptoms ranging from blurred vision and slurred speech to memory problems and paralysis. MS is a particularly scary disease because it is unpredictable. Some people are able to live and work normally with MS, while others may qualify for Social Security disability insurance benefits.

How MS Affects Your Ability to Work

Keep in mind, you are not considered legally disabled just because you have been diagnosed with MS. Social Security requires evidence of “impairments” based on your MS that prevent you from working full-time. If you have MS, here are a few questions that Social Security will likely ask:

  • Do you have difficulty seeing due to blurred vision or blindness?
  • Do you have problems concentrating or completing work-related tasks?
  • Do you have memory problems?
  • Do you suffer from extreme fatigue during the day?
  • Do you have a speech impairment?
  • Do you have problems with walking?
  • Do you have problems with your motor skills, i.e. handling objects?
  • Are you taking any medications due to your MS that produce additional side effects?

Social Security Ignores MS Patient's Medical Records

Unfortunately, even if you have properly documents your MS and its affects on your ability to work, there are some Social Security officials who will not listen. In a recent case from here in Illinois, a federal judge ordered Social Security to reconsider the disability application of a woman in her mid-40s who suffers from “relapsing-remitting” multiple sclerosis, the most common form of MS.

The applicant presented medical evidence from two of her treating physicians. One doctor said that due to the applicant's MS symptoms, she would be limited to the use of her right hand for just 20 percent of the day and “would be off task more than 30 percent of the day and would miss approximately five days a month” from any job. At a Social Security hearing, the applicant testified that she required weekly injections for her MS symptoms, which led to “headaches and flu-like symptoms” requiring additional rest. She also noted she had vision problems, chronic pain in her arm and neck, and sleep problems.

Despite all this, a Social Security administrative law judge (ALJ) ruled the applicant was not legally disabled because she could still perform “sedentary work subject to certain limitations.”

But on appeal, a U.S. district judge said the ALJ failed to give proper consideration to the applicant's treating physicians. Instead the ALJ simply chose to disregard these expert opinions and decided to “play doctor,” according to the judge, which is against the law. At a minimum, the ALJ should have called a medical expert to either confirm or refute the diagnosis of the applicant's treating physicians.

Do Not Face Social Security Alone

Multiple sclerosis is a progressive disease, meaning its symptoms usually get worse over time. This means that even if you do not think you are legally disabled now, your MS means you likely will be in the future. If you need advice from a qualified Chicago disability benefits lawyer on how to deal with Social Security, contact Pearson Disability Law, LLC today.



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