Applying for disability with Multiple Sclerosis, MS
Social Security Disability is based upon residual functional capacity, simply what an individual is able to do in spite of the limitations imposed upon them by their disability conditions. Consequently, an individual with MS may have a good chance of getting Social Security Disability.
Individuals who have multiple sclerosis are evaluated under section 11, the neurological section of the Social Security Disability List of Impairments, referred to, simply, as the listings. MS is specifically given consideration under impairment listing 11.09.
The Social Security Disability handbook evaluates MS under these criterions: motor disturbance, visual or mental impairment, and muscle weakness with repetitive movements. Lets take a look at how each of the criteria is evaluated.
1. Disorganization of motor function: this is described as severe and persistent motor dysfunction in two extremities that affect gross and fine motor movements or an individual's gait or stance.
2. Visual impairment: this involves impairment of an individual's central visual acuity (the disability standard for acuity is defined as vision in the better eye as being 20/200 or worse, even after best correction), contraction of peripheral visual fields in the better eye, or loss of visual efficiency.
3. Mental impairment: an individual must exhibit the loss of specific cognitive abilities or have affective changes with one of the following: personality changes, mood disturbance, emotional changes (anger management, crying), impairment in impulse control, or loss of measured intellectual ability of at least 15 IQ points. One of these problems must result in marked restriction in at least two of the following: restriction of an individual's daily activities, difficulties with social functioning, or difficulties in maintaining concentration, or multiple episodes of decompensation.
4. Muscle weakness with repetitive movement: an individual must exhibit motor function fatigue with muscle weakness when performing a lot of activity. This fatigue must be verified by a physical examination and result from a dysfunction of certain areas of the central nervous system associated with MS.
If an individual suffers from a significant physical or mental impairment as the result of MS, their residual functional capacity is likely to be very limited.
If your MS has prevented you from performing substantial work activity for the past twelve months or you expect it to prevent your work activity for twelve months, you may be entitled to Social Security Disability.
Note: residual functional capacity can be measured on an RFC form. RFC forms are typically submitted by attorneys at disability hearings; however, an RFC form can also be submitted by a claimant or the claimant's representative at any stage of the process.
About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.
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