MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS AND WINNING DISABILITY BENEFITS
Multiple Sclerosis is an auto-immune disease that affects the central nervous system. When an individual suffers from M.S., the disease damages the insulating covers of the nerve cells in the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. This nerve damage process is called demyelination. Demyelination can cause symptoms such as pain and muscle spasms. You can also experience weakness and fatigue. Also common are symptoms such as tremor, balance issues, and dizziness.
The symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis are different for every person. However, common symptoms are vision problems, tingling, and numbness in the face or extremities. Some people experience speech issues, sexual dysfunction, and bladder problems. Additionally, mental symptoms can include cognitive issues, such as forgetfulness. Also, you can experience concentration problems or mood swings. While Multiple Sclerosis symptoms can wax and wane over time, the disease does shorten your life expectancy.
DIAGNOSING MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS
Multiple Sclerosis is typically diagnosed by an MRI scan. The MRI will show demyelinating lesions in the brain and/or the spinal cord. These lesions are white matter lesions or plaques. Another way to diagnosis the disease is by a spinal tap or lumbar puncture. When the doctors do this, they are looking for oligoclonal bands in your spinal fluid.
You need to take your M.S. tests in a hospital setting. For example, the doctor removes cerebrospinal fluid, using a thin needle, from the low back. The cerebral spinal fluid is tested for abnormal results; oligoclonal bands are a group of proteins that show inflammation of the central nervous system. The presence of these proteins may indicate a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis.
SSA’S DEFINITION OF MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS
You can obtain disability benefits from the Social Security Administration if you have severe symptoms from Multiple Sclerosis. First, of course you will need to start the application process. Once you apply, you will need to submit your medical records to the SSA. As always, the SSA will first look at your medical records to see if your M.S. symptoms meets their listing requirements. Multiple Sclerosis is found under the neurological listing 11.09. Listing 11.09 states the following:
11.09 Multiple sclerosis, characterized by A or B:
A. Disorganization of motor function in two extremities, resulting in an extreme limitation in the ability to stand up from a seated position, balance while standing or walking, or use the upper extremities.
B. Marked limitation in physical functioning, and in one of the following:
- Understanding, remembering, or applying information; or
- Interacting with others; or
- Concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace; or
- Adapting or managing oneself.
It is important to remember that you will need to prove not only an objective diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. But, you will also need to prove you have the disease to the level of severity under listing 11.09. You must have a treating physician document your impairments from M.S.. For example, your doctor should discuss your tests and objective diagnosis, along with your disabling symptoms.
SIDE-EFFECTS OF M.S. MEDICATIONS
It is also important for the doctor to document the side-effects you may have from your treatment for M.S.. For example, some individuals with M.S., have treatment from the injections or infusions listed below:
- Injections: interferon beta-1a (Avonex, Rebif), interferon beta-1b (Betaseron, Extavia), glatiramer acetate (Copaxone, Glatopa), peginterferon beta-1a (Plegridy)
- Infusions: alemtuzumab (Lemtrada), mitoxantrone hydrochloride, natalizumab (Tysabri), ocrelizumab (Ocrevus)
These medications can cause side-effects, such as extreme fatigue and nausea. If you have side-effects such as these, they can contribute to not being able to work. Your doctor should discuss your side-effects in your medical records. Documenting the side-effects of your medications is important to proving your disability to the SSA.
LIFESTYLE SUGGESTIONS YOU CAN TRY TO HELP YOUR M.S.
You should follow your doctor’s recommendations, but medications may not be the only answer. As with any medical condition, taking care of your health will make your daily life better. Individuals with M.S. should make sure they:
Get enough rest: Make sure you keep a regular sleep schedule and make sure your bedroom is cool and dark. That will help you sleep. Also, make sure you are screen-free two hours before bedtime.
Eat a healthy diet: Check with your neurologist before starting on any diet. However, it makes good sense to choose foods low in fats and high in fiber.
HOW YOUR DOCTOR CAN HELP AFTER YOUR MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS DIAGNOSIS
Your doctor needs to state that your Multiple Sclerosis has been diagnosed through an objective test, like an MRI. You may also have testing for oligoclonal bands. Second, your doctor should write about your physical and mental limitations. Third, your doctor should discuss how you are complaint with treatment. If you file for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, at the same time, you should apply for any private disability insurance benefits you may have through work.
Many individuals who suffer from M.S. also deal with side-effects from their medications. If you are taking steroids, Tysabri, Mitoxantrone, Interferon, or other drugs, then you may have days where the side-effects of your medications are worse than your M.S. symptoms. If that is the case, make sure your doctor discusses your need to lie down, take breaks, or stay in bed when you take your medication. One of the main things your doctor can do to help the SSA understand your case, is to document your inability to sustain full-time work.
HELPFUL TIPS YOU CAN USE TO PROVE YOUR M.S. IS DISABLING
- Medical Records: We can’t stress enough how much the SSA relies on your medical history to find disability. Your medical records need to include your M.S. diagnosis, test results from an MRI and a spinal tap showing oligoclonal bands, ongoing records of treatment and medication, any hospital visits, and prescribed assistive devices, such as a cane or walker.
- A Psychological Evaluation: M.S. can affect your ability to understand, remember and apply information. Likewise, your ability to concentrate and sustain a steady work pace can deteriorate as your disease progresses. Your ability to complete work-related mental activities can be determined through a psychological evaluation. You can obtain one by paying for it. Additionally, it is possible to have the SSA send you for a consultative mental examination. The mental aspects of your disease are very important to your case.
- Treating Physician’s Statement: SSA will have specific questions for your doctors that will help them understand the your MS symptoms and their effect upon your ability to work. We can help you provide specific forms to your doctor for him or her to complete. These forms document your physical and mental limitations as if you were at work.
OTHER EVIDENCE OF DISABLING MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS
- Keep a Journal of Your MS Symptoms: Our clients keep a journal of their daily activities and how they are limited by their MS symptoms. In your journal, which can be kept on a calendar, you should document your different symptoms, like needing to lie down during the day. You should write down how many hours you slept that day and why you needed to sleep. Was it due to medication side-effects, an infusion, or simply fatigue due to M.S.. Show this journal or calendar to your doctor. It is also possible to submit a well-kept journal to the disability judge at your hearing.
- Statements from Family and Friends: Submitting statements from family and friends at your disability hearing is possible. However, make sure those statements talk about your MS limitations and not other subjects.
RESOURCES IN UTAH, IDAHO & NEVADA FOR M.S.
National Multiple Sclerosis Society Idaho-Nevada-Utah Chapter
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society has a Chapter that serves people with Multiple Sclerosis in Utah, Idaho and Nevada. In these three states, the Idaho-Nevada-Utah Chapter mobilizes people and resources to fund research for a cure. They also address the challenges of everyone impacted by M.S.. The Idaho-Nevada-Utah Chapter works to improve the quality of life for people affected by MS and raise funds for critical MS research. They provide a wide variety of programs, fundraisers, activities, and services throughout the region to people with Multiple Sclerosis, their families, and friends.
The National MS Society’s Partners in Multiple Sclerosis Care program connects you to local health care providers and medical facilities that demonstrate exceptional care and expertise in treating patients with MS. All of their partners, whether they are a neurologist or social worker, have a positive relationship with the Society. This website can connect you to a list of patient information, doctors, and other resources for people with M.S.. We highly recommend you study the information on Partner in MS Care, which can be found on the National M.S. Society’s website.
CANNON DISABILITY CAN HELP YOU WIN YOUR MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY CASE
It can be difficult to prove to the SSA that your Multiple Sclerosis symptoms prevent you from working. But, Cannon Disability Law can help you win your Social Security disability benefits. We are happy to answer your questions. And, we will help you file your application for disability benefits. Contacting us and talking to us about your case is free. We will not charge you for a consultation. Likewise, we will not charge you an attorney fee unless we win your case. If we do not win your case, you will not pay an attorney fee. However, there are costs in every case that the client does pay. Typically, these costs are minimal. It is usually the cost of paying for a copy of your doctor’s medical records.
In the past 30 years, we have won over $100 million in ongoing and past-due due disability benefits for our clients. You want to hire an attorney with the experience to win your case. Also, you need a guide to help you through the disability process. We have the experience you need to win your disability case. Additionally, we believe we are the best disability team that you can hire to help you with your case. It is free to call and talk to us about your case. Hire the best disability firm to help you apply for benefits and appeal your disability case. Contact us today.