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Multiple Sclerosis

Getting Social Security Benefits for Your Multiple Sclerosis

Definition
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is thought to be an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system (CNS). The CNS consists of the brain, spinal cord, and the optic nerves. Surrounding and protecting the nerve fibers of the CNS is a fatty tissue called myelin, which helps nerve fibers conduct electrical impulses.
In MS, myelin is lost in multiple areas, leaving scar tissue called sclerosis. These damaged areas are also known as plaques or lesions. Sometimes the nerve fiber itself is damaged or broken.
Myelin not only protects nerve fibers, but makes their job possible. When myelin or the nerve fiber is destroyed or damaged, the ability of the nerves to conduct electrical impulses to and from the brain is disrupted, and this produces the various symptoms of MS. If your MS prevents you from working, you may qualify for Social Security benefits.

Causes
While the exact cause of MS is unknown, most researchers believe that the damage to myelin results from an abnormal response by the body's immune system. In the case of MS, myelin is attacked. Scientists do not yet know what triggers the immune system to do this. Most agree that several factors are involved, including genetics and environmental triggers (viruses, trauma and metal toxicity).

Who is Affected
Anyone may develop MS, but there are some patterns. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50. Two to three times as many women as men have MS. Studies indicate that genetic factors make certain individuals more susceptible than others, but there is no evidence that MS is directly inherited. MS occurs more commonly among people with northern European ancestry, but people of African, Asian, and Hispanic backgrounds are not immune. Approximately 400,000 Americans acknowledge having MS, and every week about 200 people are diagnosed. Worldwide, MS may affect 2.5 million individuals.

Symptoms
Symptoms of MS are unpredictable and vary from person to person and from time to time in the same person. A person with MS could have loss of balance and muscle coordination making walking difficult; another person with MS could have slurred speech, tremors, stiffness, and bladder and bowel problems. Some exhibit depression, fatigue, sexual dysfunction and vision problems. Some symptoms will come and go over the course of the disease, while others may be more lasting.
This information was obtained from the National MS Society at http://www.nationalmssociety.org.

Social Security Process
Social Security evaluates each person's claim for benefits using the following five steps:

  1. Are you working? If you are working in 2012 and your earnings average more than $1,010 a month, you generally cannot be considered disabled.  If your back injury prevents you from working, go to Step 2.
  2. Is your condition "severe?" If your back injury interferes with basic work-related activities, you claim will be considered. If it does not, we will find that you are not disabled. If your condition does interfere with basic work-related activities, go to Step 3.
  3. Is your condition found in the list of disabling conditions? For each of the major body systems, we maintain a list of medical conditions that are so severe they automatically mean that you are disabled. Some back conditions that appear on this list are stenosis, degenerative disc disease, lumbar back pain with positive straight leg raising tests, and nerve root compression. If your back condition is not on the list, we have to decide if it is of equal severity to a medical condition that is on the list. If it is, we will find that you are disabled. If it is not, then go to Step 4.
  4. Can you do the work you did previously? If your condition is severe but not at the same or equal level of severity as a medical condition on the list, then we must determine if the back pain interferes with your ability to do the work you did previously. If it does not, your claim will be denied. If it does, proceed to Step 5.
  5. Can you do any other type of work? If you cannot do the work you did in the past, SSA will see if you are able to adjust to other work. SSA will consider your medical conditions and your age, education, past work experience and any transferable skills you may have. If you cannot adjust to other work, your claim will be approved. If you can adjust to other work, your claim will be denied.

A Jacoby & Meyers professional can help you at all levels of the administrative process to:

  • Assist you with your initial SSI & SSDI application, with filing your request with the Social Security Administration for reconsideration, requesting a hearing before an administrative law judge or filing an appeal with the Appeals Council
  • Analyze your case under federal Social Security Disability regulations. Obtain a copy of your file from the Office of Hearings & Appeals to ensure that it reflects all your past medical treatment and that all records and documents contained therein are admissible as evidence
  • Ask that any prior SSI & SSDI applications for benefits be reopened
  • Protect your right to a fair hearing
  • Make any necessary Social Security appeals

      We are not retained until the contract is countersigned.
Please contact our SSDI lawyers today to schedule your free initial consultation. Jacoby & Meyers has offices nationwide.