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Social Security Administration Disability and Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis or MS is an inflammatory disease which damages the myelin sheaths around the axons of the brain and spinal cord. This damage can lead to symptoms of vertigo, depression, fatigue, bladder issues, acid reflux, bowel issues, pain, vision problems, muscle weakness and spasms and cognitive limitations.

The Social Security Administration has two methods it uses to determine if claimants are disabled and qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income.

First, the SSA will determine whether the claimant’s condition meets or exceeds a listing in the Social Security Administration’s Listing of Impairments (also informally known as the blue book). This book is a listing of all the conditions the SSA recognizes as automatically disabling.

Meeting the SSA Listing of Impairments for Multiple Sclerosis

The Social Security Administration does have a listing for Multiple Sclerosis. This condition is evaluated under 11.00 Neurological, Section 11.09 Multiple Sclerosis. To meet or exceed this listing the SSA is looking for one of the following: disorganization of motor functions, visual or mental impairments or severe fatigue of motor function.

This is described by the Social Security Administration as, “significant and persistent disorganization of motor function in two extremities, resulting in sustained disturbance of gross and dexterous movements, or gait and station.”

This can include loss of visual acuity which means the claimant has vision of 20/200 or less with corrective lenses, loss of visual efficiency which means the visual efficiency of the better eye is 20 percent or less with corrective measures or severe contraction of the visual field of the better eye.

Mental impairments are described as organic mental disorders which can be either “psychological or behavioral abnormalities associated with a dysfunction of the brain." The Social Security Administration would be evaluating the presence at least one of the following symptoms: memory impairment (short, intermediate or long-term), disorientation of time or place, hallucinations or delusions, changes in personality, severe mood disturbance, lack or impulse control or emotional ability, and loss of intellectual ability (at least 15 I.Q. points).

The listing is met if one of the symptoms listed above is present and it  leads to marked restriction of daily living, difficulties in maintaining social functioning, concentration, persistence or pace or repeated episodes of decompensation.

The claimant may also meet the listing if they can prove that their mental disorder has lasted at least 2 years and limits their ability to perform basic work activities due to their repeated episodes of decompensation, the expectation that the claimant would decompensate with a change in their environment or they have a history of not being able to function outside of a “highly supportive living arrangement.”

The Social Security Administration would look for “substantial muscle weakness on repetitive activity, demonstrated on physical examination, resulting from neurological dysfunction in areas of the central nervous system known to be pathologically involved by the multiple sclerosis process.”

Winning Social Security Disability through a medical vocational allowance

Claimant’s whose conditions do not meet or exceed a listing may still be able to win SSDI or SSI benefits but they must prove that their condition is so severe they do not have the residual capacity to work or perform substantial gainful activity. This process is called a medical vocational allowance and the SSA will determine (based on the claimant’s age, work history, and education) whether the claimant could work their current job, previous job, or retrain for new work.



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