What is Multiple Sclerosis? MS is a disease which the medical community
knows only a limited amount about its cause and how to treat it. What is known is that it is an auto immune disease that affects
the central nervous system. The signals when traveling along the nerves are slowed or stopped by damage to what is called
myelin. Myelin in a healthy state helps the signals to travel thru the nervous system. This slowing or stopping of the nerve
impulses is what causes the MS symptoms. There is evidence of genetic predisposition and enviremental factors and infection
such as herpes simplex and chlamydia that could bring on the disease.
How is MS diagnosed?
Early diagnosis is crucial and gives a better chance at slowing down the disease process through early treatment.
Multiple Sclerosis is diagnosed by clinical findings and MRI scan. An MRI postive finding is not enough since many people
with a positive MRI will never show symptoms of MS.
What are the symptoms? Symptoms
of the disease include vertigo, deprssion, fatigue, tremors, bladder dysfunction, reflux, bowel dysfunction, pain, vision
problems, muscle weakness, muscle spasm and cognitive impairments.
How is MS treated? MS
is treated in many ways. Interferon therapy is often used but is less effective in treating African Americans with the condition.
Physical therapy has been shown to have a positive impact on those suffering from the condition. The symptoms of the disease
are also treated with various medications.
How to prove disability for MS to get SSDI or SSI.
One way you can be found disabled is if you meet or equal the listed impairment for Multiple Sclerosis which is 11.09.
11.09 Multiple sclerosis. With:
A. Disorganization of motor function as described in 11.04B; or
B. Visual or mental impairment as described under the criteria in 2.02, 2.03, 2.04, or 12.02; or
C. 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.
To be found disabled under
the medical listing it will take a finding by a doctor that you meet this listing and it must be supported by the medical
evidence. The listing is a bit hard to follow because as you can see it branches off into other sections of the listings.
Here you can find the full medical listing to see what it is referencing. Note that to meet the listing you must have A or B or C and not all three. It
would be a good idea if you think you may meet or equal the listing to bring a copy of it to your doctor with the other section
referenced to get his opinion in writing with an explanation as to why. This may be difficult to get since doctors
do not like having to write reports but may do so if asked on a scheduled visit or for a fee to write it.
If you don't meet or equal the listing for MS you can still be found disabled by showing the limitations
from the disease would prevent you from performing a significant number of jobs. The process SSA uses to determine this is
the same as any other condition and can be found on my page called "am I disabled".
Now I will talk about some of the symptoms and the limitations they may cause on someones ability
to work. One of the most disabling and most over looked symptom of MS is fatigue. The exams by SSA medical consultants almost
never account for the disabling affect of fatigue on someone suffering from the condition. Fatigue can be documented in a
number of ways. You should keep a diary of your everyday activities and how they are affected by fatigue. Medical records
can also be a good source if your doctor reports your complaints of fatigue. Statements from friends or family members that
tell stories of your fatigue can be helpful. There are also special 2 day exams of your functional limitations for those suffering
from MS that your doctor could send you for which will show the difference in functional ability from one day to another day.
Many people who have this condition can do quite well on a one day functional evaluation but may do much poorer on the next
exam which can be attributed to fatigue.
Other important limitations that can help with your Social Security Disability
claim are the need to use the bathroom frequently, cognitive limitations, dizziness, difficulty using hands both grasping
and feeling, dealing with stress, visual limitations (acuity, depth perception, accommodation, and field of vision), and muscle
weakness. Many people with MS also have depression and any limitations from this condition can also be helpful in proving
To prove you are disabled for Social Security Disability or SSI you will need all your medical records,
hospital visits, test results including MRI and RFC forms filled out by you doctor to show your physical and in most
cases mental limitations in your ability to work. As mentioned earlier fatigue is often not accounted for on these
forms and unless you have an RFC specific for MS (which many lawyers who do this do) you should have a statement from
your doctor about the affects of fatigue on your ability to work. Even better than a statement would be a functional
capacity test specific for Multiple Sclerosis.