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Parkinsons Disease and SSI Disability

What is Parkinson's Disease?

Parkinson’s is a disease that involves your nerve cells or neurons. Specifically, Parkinson’s affects the nerve cells in an area of your brain that is responsible for the movement of your muscles. A chemical that is known as dopamine is produced by these nerve cells. Signals that enable your muscle movements to be coordinated are sent by dopamine. These nerve cells die. Or, your nerve cells do not work like they ought to when you have Parkinson’s.

Although the signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s may start to manifest themselves at any time, they usually start to show up around the age of 60. Somewhere around 5 to 10% of the people who are afflicted with Parkinson’s have signs and symptoms before the age of 40.

When the signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s start, it is usually in a gradual and subtle manner.  For no discernible reason, you may begin to feel irritable, depressed or tired. You may begin to notice that your voice is too soft, or that you lose track of a thought or a word. You may simply have trouble in rising from a chair, or you may start to experience mild tremors.

Classic signs and symptoms of Parkinson's Disease

It is usually a long time after these initial signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s before the classic signs and symptoms of the disease begin to be revealed. The classic signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s often start on one side of your body. However, with the passage of time, both sides of your body become affected by the disease, but your signs and symptoms may not be as bad on one side of your body as they are on the other side.

There are four classic signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s. They are:


This involves the slowing down and loss of spontaneous and automatic movement. Simple things start to become difficult and require a great deal of time in order to do that you used to be able to do quickly and easily


This involves a rhythmic back-and-forth motion that appears most often when your are under stress or at rest.
Postural instability – You fall easily because your balance is affected. You may develop a stooped posture that may involve drooping shoulders and a bowed head.


You develop a resistance to movement. Your muscles stay constantly tense and contracted so that you feel stiff, ache or feel weak.

There are other signs and symptoms that you may experience. These include sexual dysfunction, depression, loss of energy and fatigue, problems with chewing and swallowing, sleep difficulties, emotional changes, skin problems, speech changes and muscle cramps and pain.

Can I get SSI for Parkinson's Disease?

Parkinson’s is listed in the Social Security Administration’s “List of Impairments."  The listing is 11.06, Parkinsonian syndrome. However, in order to be approved for Social Security disability, you must demonstrate that Parkinson’s is causing you to experience “significant rigidity, bradykinesia, or tremor in two extremities, which, singly or in combination, result is sustained disturbance of gross and dexterous movements, or gait and station.”

Your statement that you are experiencing these signs and symptoms is not enough for the Social Security Administration to approve your application for disability. They must be documented by a doctor who examines you. Meeting a listing for Parkinson's Disease can be very difficult. Contact a disability lawyer if you have questions about whether or not the SSA may consider you disabled.
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