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Our firm recently represented an individual who had Multiple Sclerosis and fortunately was awarded social security disability benefits. Many times these cases turn on a few key medical documents, however, I believe just as important is having a detailed description of a claimant’s functional limitations. If an individual is formally diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, and is being followed closely by a neurologist, and has severe functional limitations, there is a good chance they will be found disabled under social security’s rules and regulations. Let me go over some of the basics of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and how to successfully navigate the social security disability claims process if you have Multiple Sclerosis.
Multiple Sclerosis is a neurological disease that affects the central nervous system and can be extremely debilitating. There is no known cause for Multiple Sclerosis and unfortunately, no known “cure” as well, however, there are many different therapies which are mostly designed to slow the progression of the disease and target some of the symptoms. There are many signs and symptoms of MS including muscle weakness, spasticity, decreased sensation, pain, and vision and speech disturbances among many others. These symptoms are what affects an individuals function which are key in proving disability.
Individuals who have been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and are unable to work because of this disease should consider applying for social security disability. There are specific criteria that the Social Security Administration looks for when evaluating your claim. First, they will look to see if you were formally diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. This typically includes some type of imaging (MRI) where a doctor, most likely a neurologist who is specially trained with MS, is able to see the damaged areas of the brain or any abnormalities which are typical in patients with MS. Additionally, this has to be corroborated with a patient’s history, physical symptoms, and other laboratory findings in order to rule out other causes of a positive MRI. Next, and just as important to your case, the Social Security Administration will look at your ability, or more accurately, your inability to function due to the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis. The most important symptom that our law firm has found in these cases is “muscle weakness” and/or “fatigue”. Fatigue and muscle weakness are two of the most common symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis and are also two of the most debilitating. If a social security disability claimant can show that they have reproducible fatigue and/or muscle weakness due to Multiple Sclerosis, then they have a much better chance of being successful with their social security disability claim.
Proving this may sound very simplistic, however, unfortunately it is not. Many cases can be denied due to the difficulty of proving the particular degree of symptoms as well as consistent symptoms, especially at the initial and reconsideration stages of a social security disability claim. It is important to remember that there is a right way and a wrong way to describe your particular symptoms to SSA or to the Administrative Law Judge if you have a social security disability hearing. The short answer is you do not want to exaggerate your symptoms, but you also do not want to minimize your symptoms. Anyone who has been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and is considering applying for social security disability benefits, or has already been denied with their disability claim should consider talking to an SSD Attorney in Charlotte who is well versed in this type of law and who has an understanding of this type of disease.