This article is created to be a short version of a complex area of the law. Please consult an attorney if you have any questions. Many will do free consultations and evaluate your claim.

  1. File both a social security disability (SSD) claim and a supplemental security income (SSI) even if you do not believe you are eligible for one option.
    • SSD – For claimants who have worked five out of the past ten years. There are special rules for younger claimants.
    • SSI – For claimants who have not worked much and have assets below $2,000 not including a house or car.
    • File an initial application by calling 1-800-722-1213. They will schedule you for an appointment.
  2. Submit all evidence related to your disability to the Social Security Administration. Evidence includes, but is not limited to, medical records, letters from family and friends, reports from employers, forms filled out by medical professionals, pay stubs, medication lists, diaries, pictures, and videos.
  3. The burden of proving you are disabled is on you. Social Security defines disability as an inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity (SGA) by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months. There are five elements in a social security claim, they are…
  • Step 1: Are you working?
    • If your earnings in 2015 are above $1,090/mo then you are likely barred from benefits. There are exceptions to this rule.
  • Step 2: Is your condition severe?
    • Your condition must interfere with basic work-related activities for your claim to be considered. If it does not, SSA will find that you are not disabled. If your condition does interfere with basic work-related activities, SSA will look at the listings.
  • Step 3: Is your condition found on the list of disabling conditions?

Malignant Multiple Sclerosis is on the list of compassionate allowances and can be used to speed up a claim. It is characterized by rapidly progressive inflammation and destruction of myelin (protective covering surrounding the nerves) and increased formation of lesions and plaque in the brain and spine. People with this form of MS experience weakness in their extremities, difficulties with coordination and balance, spasticity, and paresthesias (abnormal sensory feelings of numbness and prickling sensations). Speech impediments, tremors, dizziness, hearing loss, changes in vision, bowel and bladder difficulties, falls, and cognitive impairments are other frequent complaints.

If your MS is not quite as developed as the above definition, you may still meet or equal the MS listing. The MS listing states that you may receive benefits if you fulfill either of the three criteria below.

11.09 Multiple sclerosisWith:

  • Disorganization of motor function: Significant and persistent disorganization of motor function in two extremities, resulting in sustained disturbance of gross and dexterous movements, or gait and station;
  • Visual or mental impairment as described under the criteria in 2.02, 2.03, 2.04, or 12.02; or

2.02 Loss of Central Visual Acuity. Remaining vision in the better eye after best correction is 20/200 or less.

2.03 Contraction of the visual field in the better eye,with: The widest diameter subtending an angle around the point of fixation no greater than 20 degrees; OR an MD of 22 decibels or greater, determined by automated static threshold perimetry that measures the central 30 degrees of the visual field, or a visual field efficiency of 20 percent or less, determined by kinetic perimetry.

2.04 Loss of visual efficiency, or visual impairment, in the better eye: A visual efficiency percentage of 20 or less after best correction or a visual impairment value of 1.00 or greater after best correction.

12.02 Organic mental disorders: Psychological or behavioral abnormalities associated with a dysfunction of the brain. History and physical examination or laboratory tests demonstrate the presence of a specific organic factor judged to be etiologically related to the abnormal mental state and loss of previously acquired functional abilities.

  • Significant, reproducible fatigue of motor function with 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.

Even if you do not meet a listing you can still be found eligible for benefits, if you cannot do your past relevant work or any other work.

  • Step 4: Can you complete your past relevant work?
    • If your condition is severe but not at the same or equal level of severity as a medical condition on the list, then SSA will determine if it interferes with your ability to do the work you did previously.
  • Step 5: Can you complete any other type of work?
    • Social security 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.
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