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The challenges of getting SSDI when you have MS

Getting approved for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) can be a challenge for people with multiple sclerosis (MS). In fact, just 37% of people with MS have their initial application approved.

Part of the issue is that people who apply for SSDI have to show that their medical impairment has lasted or is expected to last for at least a year. However, most people with MS (75% to 85%) have the relapsing-remitting form (RRMS) -- at least initially. They have flare-ups or exacerbations where they experience symptoms for days or weeks. Then their symptoms go in to remission. However, even when they are symptom-free, the disease is in their bodies and may still be progressing.

Even if someone has one of the progressive forms of MS, it likely has developed over a long period, and they're able to keep working. However, to qualify for SSDI, a person's monthly income can't be higher than $860. That means they may have to quit their job or drastically cut their hours before they can even apply for SSDI -- and then they may not get the benefits.

There are ways that you can improve your chances of SSDI approval. For example, make sure that your doctor has thoroughly documented your symptoms and how they impact your ability to work.

If you have disability insurance through your employer or you've purchased it on your own, keep that for the time being. However, do some research on the Social Security Administration (SSA) site regarding how to qualify for SSDI when you have MS. Some of the MS websites can also be helpful. Even if you don't need SSDI yet, you want to be as prepared as possible when (or if) the time comes when you need it.

If you're having difficulty getting your SSDI application approved, it may be wise to consult with an attorney who handled Social Security Disability cases. They can guide you through the steps you need to take to have the best chance of approval.

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