How to file for disability, Filing for SSI
Disability Requirements, Disability Status
How long is the wait?, Disability Application
The Social Security List of Impairments
Qualifying for Disability, Mental Disability
Disability Lawyer Info, Disability Back Pay

Is multiple sclerosis considered a disability by Social Security?

Multiple sclerosis is considered to be a disability by Social Security; however a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis does not necessarily mean an allowance or approval for disability benefits. Some individuals with multiple sclerosis have no, or very minimal, functional limitations, meaning that some individuals with MS are able to continue working for quite some time after their diagnosis.

At the same time, however, many patients with MS find the disease to be completely debililtating and the progression of their illness and the functional limitations that come with it completely remove their ability to A) engage in their current or past work and B) engage in some type of other work.

It is for this very reason that that Social Security does not award disability benefits on the basis of being diagnosed with a condition, but, rather, looks at an individual’s residual functional capacity (what they are able to do in spite of the limitations of their disabling condition) and their ability to perform substantial gainful activity.

How is MS evaluated by Social Security?

Individuals who have multiple sclerosis are evaluated under section 11, the neurlogical section of the Social Security Disability List of Impairments, referred to, simply, as the listings. Here is an excerpt from the SSDRC page that discusses the MS listing:

Once a diagnosis of MS has been established an individual's symptoms must include one of the following:

1. Constant significant disorganization of function in two of their extremities that results in persistent disturbance of their gross and dexterous movements, or station and gait as described in neurological impairment listing 11.04 B; or

2. Visual impairment that causes a loss of visual acuity that leaves the vision in the better eye after correction (glasses or contacts) at 20/200 or less as described in visual impairment listing 2.02; or a severe contraction of their visual field as described in the vision impairment listing 2.03 A, B, and C; or a visual efficiency in the better eye of twenty percent or less as determined by kinetic perimetry as described in vision impairment listing 2.04.

Click here for the full page: MS is specifically given consideration under impairment listing 11.09.

The listing outlines the qualifications criteria needed to satisfy the severity requirement of the listing if an individual has motor function limitations or disorganization. It lists the criteria necessary for a medical approval on the basis of visual or mental impairments caused by multiple sclerosis. And, finally, it provides the criteria required for an approval based upon muscle weakness for individuals who do not have muscle weakness or motor function disorganization when they are at rest, but develop muscle weakness when they are fatigued from activity.

As with other Social Security Disability impairment listings, it is difficult to satisfy the severity requirements for disability of the multiple sclerosis impairment listing. However, individuals with MS who do not qualify for disability benefits on the basis of the listing can still be approved for disability benefits if they have severe functional limitations that prevent them from performing substantial work activity (SGA).

Individuals with significant functional difficulties may be medically approved for disability benefits through a medical vocational allowance. In this type of approval, Social Security considers a person’s age, residual functional capacity, education, and their ability to do their past work or other work (considering their residual functional capacity) when making the disability determination. If an individual’s MS prevents them from performing any past work or any other kind of work, they may be approved for disability benefits.

Will you win disability with MS?

As we said, an approval for disability can be made based on the listing. However, when that does not happen, the decision will be made based on work history and medical records, which is a medical vocational decision. This is where disability attorneys do most of their work on a case, particulary when the case will be heard by a federal administrative law judge at a hearing.

Getting disability for multiple Sclerosis and autoimmune disorders

A recent post was made about autoimmune disorders and the need, from my viewpoint as a former disability examiner, for disability claims examiners to have better training (as in ongoing medical information training) to facilitate greater competency as adjudicators.

As I was on the subject of auto-immune disorders, I made a few remarks regarding MS, or multiple sclerosis. First off, the inevitable question: if you have multiple sclerosis, should you file for either Social Security Disability or SSI disability?

Stock answer (but a very correct one): if your condition prohibits your ability to work, yes, file an application for disability benefits and do it immediately because the disability evaluation process is very long and you need to get your application "in the pipe" to minimize any delay.

There's no doubt that multiple sclerosis can become disabling and one aspect of the disease that is problematic is the fact that it doesn't just exhibit a pattern of exacerbation and remission, but rather a pattern of progressive exacerbation and remission; in other words, the condition can remiss and then return with even stronger symptomology.

MS, like the condition ankylosing spondylitis (a spondylarthropathy, a rheumatic disease, and an autoimmune disorder, one that affects the spine and various other joints, but also, possibly, the eyes and kidneys) is a disorder that seems to surface in younger individuals. Each condition tends to be diagnosed before the age of forty. Both conditions also seem to involve an inherited predisposition. In other words, while MS is not passed on directly, the susceptibility for developing multiple sclerosis does seems to have a genetic basis.

As to cause of origin, again, the two conditions share possible similarities. The current opinions regarding ankylosing spondylitis are that genetically susceptible individuals may have the condition triggered by an external environmental component, perhaps bacteriological. Current opinions regarding multiple sclerosis reflect the notion that MS have a viral trigger. Regarding differences between ankylosing spondylitis, AS appears in twice as many men as women, while the incidence of multiple sclerosis may be 3 to 1 in favor of women.

Essential Questions

What is the Social Security Disability SSI list of impairments?

Can you work while getting or applying for Disability?

How Often Does Social Security Approve Disability The First Time You Apply?

Tips for getting Social Security Disability or SSI benefits approved

What medical conditions will get you approved for disability?

What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?

Receiving a Disability Award Letter

Conditions Social Security will recognize as a disability

Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

Applying for disability in your state

Most popular topics on SSDRC.com

Social Security Disability SSI Questions

The listings, list of disabling impairments

Can a mental illness qualify you for disability?

Disability Lawyers prevent unnecessary denials

How much Social Security Disability SSI back pay?

How to apply for disability for a child or children

Filing a Social Security Disability SSI application

Filing for disability - when to file

How to apply for disability - where to apply

Qualifications for disability benefits

How to Prove you are disabled and Win your Disability Benefits

Qualifying for Disability - The Process

How to get disability for depression

Getting disability for fibromyalgia

SSI disability for children with ADHD

What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?

Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

Social Security Disability SSI Exam tips

More Social Security Disability SSI Questions

Social Security Disability SSI definitions

What makes you eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI?

New and featured pages on SSDRC.com

Who can help me file for disability?

Related pages:

What does the Severity of your impairment have to do with Your Disability Claim?
What does SSA consider a severe impairment for Social Security Disability or SSI Disability Benefits?
What Disabilities Qualify for SSI and Social Security Disability Benefits?
How Will Social Security Disability or SSI Look At My Case If I have More Than One Disabling Condition?
Social Security Disability Approvals - Medical Conditions and Getting Approved
How many Social Security Disability cases are approved for back pain?
Will I qualify for disability due to back pain, a bone spur, and bulging discs?
Can I Qualify For Disability and Receive Benefits based on Depression?
Can a mental illness qualify you for disability?
If you have had a heart attack will you qualify for Social Security Disability?
How does Social Security consider lupus as a disability?
s Bipolar Disorder a disability according to Social Security?
When does a disability attorney get paid and receive a fee?
If you apply for disability in Kentucky
Disability Lawyer Kentucky

These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

Can you get temporary Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?

Permanent Social Security Disability

What is the difference between Social Security Disability and SSI?

Who is eligible for SSI disability?

Can I Be Eligible For SSI And Social Security Disability At The Same Time?

What makes a person eligible to receive disability benefits?

Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?

What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?

For the sake of clarity, SSDRC.com is not the Social Security Administration, nor is it associated or affiliated with SSA. This site is a personal, private website that is published, edited, and maintained by former caseworker and former disability claims examiner, Tim Moore, who was interviewed by the New York Times on the topic of Social Security Disability and SSI benefits in an article entitled "The Disability Mess" and also by the Los Angeles Times on the subject of political attempts to weaken the Social Security Disability system.

The goal of the site is to provide information about how Social Security Disability and SSI work, the idea being that qualified information may help claimants pursue their claims and appeals, potentially avoiding time-consuming mistakes. If you find the information on this site helpful and believe it would be helpful to others, feel free to share links to its homepage or other pages on website resource pages, blogs, or social media. Copying of this material, however, is prohibited.

To learn more about the author, please visit the SSDRC.com homepage and view the "about this site" link near the bottom of the page.