Does a Person with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Qualify for Social Security Disability?
If you or a loved one have MS, you know the nature of the disease can be unpredictable. Many people with MS are able to work without serious problems, at least for some period of time. I frequently see clients whose MS has becomes more severe over time until they reach that “tipping point.” What I mean is the point where someone with a chronic illness can no longer make accommodations that allow them to remain productive at the level required by an employer. This is a difficult time physically and emotionally. It is also the time that you should apply for Social Security disability benefits.
Episodic Nature Of MS
Since multiple sclerosis symptoms are not necessarily constant, the Social Security Administration (SSA) requirement that a disability prevent you from working for at least twelve consecutive months can be problematic for a patient suffering from this disease. This, however, is understood by the SSA. The agency reviews the frequency, duration and elapsed time between your episodes of sickness and considers all of this when evaluating your claim.
How MS Disables
Multiple sclerosis affects the central nervous system, which is composed of your brain and spinal cord. The disease can affect your mobility, your stamina, your senses, your memory, your ability to eat, your vision; literally every system in your body can be impacted by this disease. It can severely affect your ability to perform on the job.
Applying For Disability With MS
Can Wounded Warriors Get Social Security Disability Benefits?
Those who are in the Wounded Warriors program can receive Social Security disability benefits. In this video, Sharon Christie explains how it works and, also, the special consideration that Wounded Warriors receive in the process.
Why Did the Judge at my Social Security Disability Hearing Ask about Travel?
When you go to a disability hearing you will be asked questions about travel. Travel is an important part of most people’s activities and the judge will want to know how your condition affects your travel. Here are a few examples of some questions you may be asked.
Do you have problems doing any of the following actions:
If your condition causes emotional issues that affect travel then your lawyer should ask you about it at the hearing.
How Much Does It Cost to Hire an Attorney for a Social Security Disability Case?
Learn about “contingent fee,” where it comes from, when it’s paid and the maximum fee an attorney can collect.
How to Describe Your Symptoms to a Judge
One of the most important aspects of your Social Security disability case is effectively tying your symptoms to your health conditions and convincing the judge that you meet the definition of disabled. When you testify at your hearing you need to paint a picture for the judge of how your condition limits you in your day to day activities. The hearing is private to help you feel comfortable discussing your health problems and why you cannot work.
Less than 50% of the cases that go to a hearing are approved. There are a number of reasons why this happens. The judge may not have a clear understanding of how your condition limits your activities. Or your medical records may not support a finding that your limitations are as severe as you say they are. Simply having a particular medical condition is not enough to get benefits. You must prove that your condition makes it impossible for you to work. For example, if you claim that you are unable to work because of arthritis but you don’t specifically explain how that condition affects your ability to work, you will probably be denied. Arthritis is a very common disease and many individuals who suffer with it are still able to work. The judge needs to understand, very specifically, how your life is impacted by the condition, and your medical records need to support the level of impairment you are claiming.
There are several steps you can take to help your case:
As you can see, getting Social Security disability benefits is a complex process. If you need more information about Social Security disability order a free copy of my Unofficial Guide to Social Security Disability Claims on this website. Or call my office at (800) 218-7062.
It’s important to know how to speak to a judge at your Social Security disability hearing. This video gives specifics on how to answer questions and how to address the judge.
Chronic Pain and Social Security Disability
Chronic pain can result from many conditions, including back injuries, arthritis, lupus, fibromyalgia or migraine headaches, to name a few. These cases are often difficult to prove because pain is subjective. What is severe pain to me may only be moderate pain to you. There is no medical test to measure the amount of pain a person feels. Let’s look at how can you win a disability case based on chronic pain.
Medically Determinable Impairment
In order to be considered disabled as a result of chronic pain there must be a medically determinable impairment responsible for it. This means that you must have medical records showing a diagnosed condition that is expected to cause pain. A medically determinable impairment is demonstrated by offering objective medical evidence, including diagnoses and tests. Thus, complaints of pain without any supporting evidence will result in a finding that you are not eligible for disability benefits. Even if a medically determinable impairment does exist to explain your chronic pain, the impairment must also be severe enough to limit your ability to perform work.
Your credibility as a claimant will be extremely important to the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) in determining whether or not your stated pain should qualify you for disability benefits. The ALJ will hear your testimony regarding your impairment and compare your account to any objective medical documentation that may exist. If there are gaps and differences between the two, your credibility will likely be tarnished. It is important that you see your treating doctors regularly and let them know how you are feeling and what limitations you still have, even with treatment of your pain. At the hearing you do not want to exaggerate your symptoms. The judge will look very closely at your medical records to see if your complaints are consistent with what you have reported to the doctor. Accuracy and clarity in your descriptions of your symptoms are crucial to your case.
At the Hearing
You must be able to give detailed, convincing testimony that illustrates the extent of your impairments and especially any pain that you suffer. You must be prepared to address 3 aspects of your pain:
3 Tips for Completing Your Work History Report
An important aspect of your claim for Social Security disability benefits is proving that you cannot perform any of your “past relevant work.” In general, this refers to any jobs you held in the last 15 years. You must have held the job long enough to learn how to perform it adequately. The length of time this takes depends on the skill level required for the job.
Compiling the List
To answer this question, it is a good idea to compile all the following information about all jobs you have held in the last 15 years.
Describing the Job
Every job has different duties. It is important to give a detailed description of your specific duties for each of your jobs. The title “administrative assistant” is used to describe many different kinds of jobs. Upon closer inspection of the job, it may not really be an administrative assistant, which is a sedentary position. What you did may really be an inventory clerk, a light position. These distinctions can be the difference between winning and losing your case. Here are the questions you must be prepared to answer about each of your jobs:
Partial Social Security Disability – Is It Possible?
Watch the video above to learn when this is and is not a possibility.
If you have questions, fill out a Free Case Evaluation form by clicking the link to the right of the video, or call my office at 410-823-8200.
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