Life with MS

How to Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits with MS

By Cendy Moliere
If you have been diagnosed with MS and you can’t work because of the symptoms you have, you can file a claim for Social Security disability benefits. Disability benefits can be used to pay for living expenses when you can’t work. As long as you have had a job and paid taxes in the past and you expect you won’t be able to work for at least a year because of the symptoms of MS, you can file a claim for disability benefits.

Medically qualifying for disability benefits because of MS

Before your claim can be approved you will have to provide proof that you meet the Social Security Administration’s requirements for disability benefits because of MS. The Blue Book requirements for MS are listed in section 11:09 under Central Nervous System Disorders. You may be able to qualify for disability benefits based on the Blue Book listings for:
  • Vision loss or impairment
  • Mental limitations involving behavioral and psychological abnormalities or mental disorders associated with MS
  • Persistent motor function disorganization, such as paralysis or paresis, ataxia, tremor, and sensory disturbances that may occur in different combinations
  • Severe motor function fatigue with considerable muscle weakness especially when performing repetitive activities.

Medical documentation is a very important part of filing a successful claim. You will need to provide detailed medical records and test results that document your changing condition and the progression of the MS. If you’re not sure what medical evidence you should include ask your doctor what evidence they recommend you submit. If you don’t have enough medical evidence to prove your claim meets the requirements in the Blue Book, you can still qualify for disability benefits with a Medical Vocational Allowance.

Medical vocational allowance  

The Social Security Administration created an exception to allow people who don’t meet the Blue Book requirements to still qualify for disability benefits. To get a Medical Vocational Allowance you will need your doctor to fill out a Residual Functional Capacity evaluation. This evaluation allows your doctor to describe your symptoms and how they limit your ability to function in great detail. Submit the RFC evaluation with your medical evidence when you submit your claim. The SSA will look at your work history, your age, and what the doctor wrote in the RFC to evaluate if there is any type of work that you can still do. If they find there isn’t any work, you can do, then you will be eligible to receive disability benefits. 

File a claim

Filing a claim for disability benefits can take some time, and if your symptoms of MS are getting worse, time is the enemy. Don’t wait to file your claim for Social Security disability benefits if you believe you qualify. You can file a claim online or make an appointment at your local SSA office. Bring all of your medical documentation, and your RFC if you have one, and a staff member will help you organize and submit your claim and evidence.

Resources
Blue Book Listing for Multiple Sclerosis:
www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/11.00-Neurological Adult.htm#11_09

How to Apply:
www.disabilitybenefitscenter.org/blog/how-to-apply-social-security-benefits

Local SSA Office:
www.disabilitybenefitscenter.org/state-social-security-disability

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Cendy Moliere
is an Outreach Specialist with Disability Benefits Center, an organization designed to inform people on how to navigate the confusing process of applying for Social Security Disability benefits. The center helps individuals who are seeking to apply for Social Security Disability benefits or have been denied after applying for Social Security disability.