Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, unpredictable neurological disease that disrupts the communication between the brain and the body. Here at Disability Advocates Group, we understand the immense challenges MS presents, and the financial strain it can cause. Many Florida residents with MS qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. This article explores MS, its impact on work, and how to navigate the path to securing the financial support you deserve.

Understanding Multiple Sclerosis

Causes: The exact cause of MS remains unknown. However, researchers believe it’s an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system attacks the myelin sheath, the protective layer surrounding nerve fibers. This damage disrupts nerve signals, leading to a variety of symptoms.

Incidence and Prevalence of MS: You are Not Alone

National estimates suggest MS affects approximately 900,000 people in the U.S., with women diagnosed at twice the rate of men. While MS can strike at any age, most diagnoses occur between the ages of 20 and 50.  Recent data shows MS prevalence is increasing worldwide, reaching 2.8 million cases in 2020, with a global prevalence of 35.9 per 100,000 people .  In the Americas region, there was an 87% increase in MS prevalence between 2013 and 2020

Diagnostic Tests

There’s no single test for MS. Diagnosis often involves a combination of neurological examinations, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, and evoked potential tests.

Treatment Options

There is no cure for MS, but various medications and therapies can manage symptoms and slow disease progression. Common treatments include:

  • Disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) to slow disease activity
  • Steroids to manage flare-ups
  • Physical and occupational therapy to improve mobility and daily living skills
  • Pain management medications

How MS Affects Work

MS symptoms vary widely from person to person. They can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness
  • Cognitive difficulties
  • Vision problems
  • Balance and coordination issues
  • Speech impairments
  • Pain

These symptoms can significantly impact a person’s ability to work full-time, especially jobs requiring physical exertion, long hours, or consistent focus.

Does Multiple Sclerosis Qualify for SSDI/SSI?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes MS as a qualifying condition for both SSDI and SSI benefits. Here’s a breakdown:

  • SSDI: You must have a sufficient work history and a medically determinable impairment (MS) that prevents you from performing any substantial gainful activity for at least one year or is expected to result in death.
  • SSI: This needs-based program offers financial assistance to individuals with disabilities who have limited income and resources. While MS itself doesn’t automatically qualify you for SSI, the limitations it causes on your ability to work might.

Chances of Winning an SSDI/SSI Application or Hearing for MS

Initial Application: National data suggests that approval rates for MS-related SSDI applications hover around 30-40%. This highlights the importance of a well-documented medical history and a comprehensive application.

Hearing: If your initial application is denied, you have the right to request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Win rates for MS-related cases at hearings tend to be higher, ranging from 50% to 65%. Strong medical evidence and legal representation significantly increase your chances of a successful outcome.

Why You Need a Disability Attorney

Navigating the SSDI/SSI application process can be complex, especially with a condition like MS. A qualified disability attorney at Disability Advocates Group can:

  • Evaluate your eligibility: They can assess your situation and guide you towards the most appropriate benefit program (SSDI or SSI).
  • Gather Medical Evidence: A lawyer will help you compile a comprehensive medical record that clearly documents your MS diagnosis, its severity, and its impact on your ability to work.
  • Handle Complexities: Disability law has intricacies, and a lawyer can ensure your application adheres to all SSA regulations and effectively presents your case.
  • Represent You at Hearings: If your initial application is denied, an attorney from Disability Advocates Group can represent you before the ALJ at your hearing.

Living with MS is challenging enough. Let Disability Advocates Group help you secure the financial support you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation. Together, we can navigate the path towards a successful SSDI or SSI claim.