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SSDI EvaluationDisability Personal Story

Multiple Sclerosis and Social Security Disability Insurance


Here is an explanation of Social Security's five-step process to determine if an MS patient qualifies for SSDI:

1.  Determine if an individual is "working (engaging in substantial gainful activity)" according to the SSA definition. Earning more than $1,040 a month as an employee is enough to be disqualified from receiving Social Security disability benefits.

2.  Conclude the MS disability must be severe enough to significantly limit one's ability to perform basic work activities needed to do most jobs.

  • Walking, standing, sitting, lifting, pushing, pulling, reaching, carrying or handling
  • Seeing, hearing and speaking
  • Understanding/carrying out and remembering simple instructions
  • Responding appropriately to supervision, co-workers and usual work situations
  • Dealing with changes in a routine work setting

3.  MS is listed under the category of impairments known as neurological. There are several ways to satisfy the listing criteria for MS:

  • Significant and persistent disorganization of motor function in two extremities, resulting in sustained disturbance of gross and dexterous movements or gait and station
  • Visual impairments with either best corrected vision in the better eye of 20/200 or less, marked contraction of peripheral visual fields to 10° or less from the point of fixation or visual efficiency in the better eye of 20% or less
  • Organic mental disorder with marked restrictions
  • Significant, reproducible fatigue of motor function with substantial motor 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. For example, an individual requiring assistive devices to ambulate secondary to MS would be a listing level impairment.

4.  Explore the ability of an individual to perform work they have done in the past despite their multiple sclerosis. If the SSA finds that a person can do his past work, benefits are denied. If the person cannot, then the process proceeds to the fifth and final step.

5.  Review age, education, work experience and physical/mental condition to determine what other work, if any, the person can perform. To determine multiple sclerosis disability, the SSA enlists medical-vocational rules, which vary according to age.

For example, if a person is:

Under age 50 and, as a result of the symptoms of an MS disability, unable to perform what the SSA calls sedentary work, then the SSA will reach a determination of disabled. Sedentary work requires the ability to lift a maximum of 10 pounds at a time, sit six hours and occasionally walk and stand two hours per eight-hour day.

Age 50 or older and, due to the MS disability, limited to performing sedentary work, but has no work-related skills that allow him to do so, the SSA will reach a determination of disabled.

Age 55 or older and, due to the disability, limited to performing light work, but has no work-related skills that allow him to do so, the SSA will reach a determination of disabled.

Over age 60 and, due to the MS disability, unable to perform any of the jobs he performed in the last 15 years, the SSA will likely reach a determination of disabled.

Any age and, because of multiple sclerosis, has a psychological impairment that prevents even simple, unskilled work, the SSA will reach a determination of disabled.

Check out information regarding the prescription drugs used to treat multiple sclerosis.

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