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

Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI with Multiple Sclerosis MS

It is estimated that roughly 300,000 Americans have a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis with an additional 200 newly diagnosed cases each week. Multiple Sclerosis is an extremely debilitating disease that can cause significant disorganization of an individual’s motor function (i.e. walking, standing, gripping, holding, etc.), visual disturbances, extreme fatigue, and even mental impairment. Unfortunately, multiple sclerosis is a progressive neurological disease for which there is no known cure.

Social Security recognizes the potential debilitating effects of multiple sclerosis. In fact, the Social Security Disability handbook has a specific neurological impairment listing for MS.

Listing 11.09 provides the specific disability criteria for Social Security Disability and SSI disability severity requirements. To meet or equal this impairment listing, an individual must, of course, first have a diagnosis of MS. All disability applicants need objective medical evidence from acceptable medical treatment sources (licensed or certified medical professionals) that documents their diagnosis.

Individuals with MS should be able to provide a medical history that might include but is not limited to:

A. Clinical notes

B. Imaging techniques, i.e. MRI testing of the brain or spine or neuroimaging techniques (imaging techniques that directly or indirectly image the function and/or structure of the brain such as CT scans, x-rays, diffuse optical imaging, etc)

C. A diagnosis, prognosis, response to treatment, and a description of symptoms and limitations.

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.

3. Mental impairment that causes a disorientation as to time or place, impairment of short, intermediate, or long term memory, thinking or perceptual disturbance such as delusions or hallucinations, personality changes, mood disorders, emotional lability (i.e. explosive temper outbursts or sudden crying spells, etc.);

Or a loss of measured intellectual functioning from premorbid levels documented by neuropsychological testing that results in: significant restriction of daily activities, social functioning, maintaining concentration, persistence, or pace, repeated long lasting episodes of decompenstation;

Or, a documented history of MS of at least two years that has caused more than minimal limitation of their ability to do basic work activities with symptoms relieved by medication or psychosocial support along with one of the following:

a) residual disease process that has caused a marginal adjustment in which even a small increase in mental demands or change in environment would be predicted to cause the individual to decompensate,

b) or repeated long lasting episodes of decompensation,

c) or a current medical history of one or more years of an inability to function outside of a highly supportive living arrangement along with a continued need for this type of living arrangement as described in mental impairment listing 12.02 Organic Brain Disorders.

4. Lastly, substantial reproducible fatigue of motor function with significant muscle weakness upon repetitive activity--documented by a physical examination--caused by neurological dysfunction in areas of the central nervous system acknowledged to be pathologically involved in the MS disease process.

If an individual meets or equals the criteria described in the above impairment listing, they may receive disability benefits provided they meet the non-medical requirements of Social Security Disability or SSI (non-disability requirements refer to proof of income, identity, place and date of birth, etc).

Many individuals affected by multiple sclerosis do not meet or equal the impairment listing criteria because this criteria is very specific. However, they still may qualify for disability with Social Security if their MS symptoms have caused significant restriction to their functional abilities. Social Security Disability is not based upon having specific impairments but, instead, on how those impairments limit an individual’s ability to perform substantial gainful activity, or SGA as it is more commonly known (see current SGA monthly earnings limit).

The Social Security definition of disability contends that a condition is disabling if it is a medically determinable impairment (in other words, can be proven through medical evidence) that has prevented an individual from performing SGA-level work activity for twelve months, or is expected to prevent and individual from performing SGA for twelve continuous months, or may result in death.

Because of this definition of disability, individuals who do not necessarily meet or equal an impairment listing may be able to qualify for disability benefits based upon a medical vocational allowance.

Medical vocational allowance decisions are based upon several factors. Disability examiners consider an individual’s age, education, residual functional capacity (the functional abilities that are left to them despite their condition), past work, the transferability of their work skills and their ability to perform other types of work (considering their limitations) when making a medical vocational determination.

If multiple sclerosis has caused an individual’s residual functional capacity to be so restrictive that the individual is no longer capable of engaging in substantial and gainful work activity, they may be approved for disability benefit even if they do not meet or equal the requirements of the multiple sclerosis impairment listing.

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:

Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI with Multiple Sclerosis MS
Why Is It Hard to be Found Disabled for Social Security Disability or SSI for Seizures?
Do You Automatically Get Approved For Disability If You Had A Stroke?
Facts about Mini Strokes and Filing for Disability
Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Social Security Disability, and Applying for Benefits
Seizure Disorder, Social Security Disability, and Applying for Benefits
Why is Charcot-marie-tooth not on the Social Security Disability list of impairments?
Charcot-marie-tooth disease and Filing for Disability
Social Security Disability SSI and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Dystonia and Filing for Disability
Dysautonomia and Filing for Disability
Grand Mal Seizures and Filing for Disability
Narcolepsy, Social Security Disability, and Applying for Benefits
Epilepsy and Filing for Disability
Hydrocephalus and Filing for Disability
Memory Loss and Filing for Disability
Facts about Stroke and Filing for Disability
Getting disability approved in Florida
Getting a Disability Lawyer in Florida
Qualifying for SSDI in Florida

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.