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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 individualís 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.
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. 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 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 personís 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 individualís MS prevents them from performing any past work or any other kind of work, they may be approved for disability benefits.
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.
Additional information: Social Security Disability, SSI, MS, and Listing 11.09
Return to: Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions
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?
Is multiple sclerosis considered a disability by Social Security?
When does a disability attorney get paid and receive a fee?
Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:
Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI
These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.
Filing for disability - How to file for SSD or SSI and the Information that is needed by Social Security
How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
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?
How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it
Social Security Disability SSI Qualifications Criteria