Muscular Dystrophy and Social Security Disability or SSI

Muscular dystrophy or MD is a hereditary condition that causes the muscles of the body to become weak.  MD is actually a group of diseases that can affect both children and adults and the severity of the condition and speed at which progresses can depend on the type of muscular dystrophy an individual has. There are nine main types of muscular dystrophy those are Becker’s muscular dystrophy, congenital muscular dystrophy, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, distal muscular dystrophy, Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy, Facioscapulohhumeral muscular dystrophy, Limb-girdle muscular dystrophy, Myotonic muscular dystrophy, and Oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy. These MD conditions do not just a affect the muscles they can also cause problems in many areas of the body including the skin, eyes, brain, nervous system, heart, glands and can also cause gastrointestinal problems. It is known by most to affect children and usually does affect them more severely but it is also common in adults. The onset of symptoms depending on the type of MD can be anywhere from birth to 70 years of age. 

Free Disability Case Evaluation

If you have questions or need help with your Social Security Disability claim for Muscular Dystrophy you can call me at 1-877-527-5529.

On this page, I'm going to discuss how muscular dystrophy is handled in a Social Security disability claim. This section of my website is devoted to helping adults with MD get their SSDI or SSI.  If you found this page and you are trying to get your child benefits see my page on child’s SSI and the Social Security Medical Listing for Children with Muscular Dystrophy.   If this is the first page of my website you have looked at it is very important that you understand how Social Security determines if you are disabled in general first. This will help you understand many of the things I will be referring to on this web-page. 

Medical Listing for Muscular Dystrophy

The first thing you'll want to check is whether or not your MD meets or equals the medical listing for muscular dystrophy. The muscular dystrophy medical listing is located in the neurological section of the listings under 11.13.
11.13 Muscular dystrophy with disorganization of motor function as described in 11.04B.
11.04 B. Significant and persistent disorganization of motor function in two extremities, resulting in sustained disturbance of gross and dexterous movements, or gait and station (see 11.00C).
11.00C. Persistent disorganization of motor function in the form of paresis or paralysis, tremor or other involuntary movements, ataxia and sensory disturbances (any or all of which may be due to cerebral, cerebellar, brain stem, spinal cord, or peripheral nerve dysfunction) which occur singly or in various combinations, frequently provides the sole or partial basis for decision in cases of neurological impairment. The assessment of impairment depends on the degree of interference with locomotion and/or interference with the use of fingers, hands and arms.

After reading this listing and the sections it refers you to above if you feel you may meet or equal this listing then it is extremely important you take a copy of the listing and the sections it refers to to your doctor to see if he or she also feels you meet or equal this listing. If your doctor feels you do then ask him or her to write you a report explaining that you meet this listing and the report should include the number of the listing along with a detailed description of why. This report should include or be accompanied by his treatment records, any tests performed, or any other evidence that supports his or her opinion. If you can get this from your treating doctor and it is consistent with the rest of the medical evidence in the file then you have a strong chance of being found disabled because you meet or equal the above listing. It is also possible, since muscular dystrophy can affect many different body systems that you may equal a listing for another condition in the medical listing of impairments. For example, some forms of MD may affect your breathing and if the muscular dystrophy affects your breathing to the extent that you would meet or equal the listing for asthma or COPD you could also be found disabled this way as well. 

How to Win Muscular Dystrophy SSD or SSI Claim

If you do not meet or equal a listed impairment you can still be found disabled if you can show the limitations muscular dystrophy causes you would prevent you from being able to perform your past relevant work and then any other work. Again, it is important that you understand the Social Security disability test which determines disability to understand what I am about to discuss. If you have read and understand the five step test disability you will understand the importance of the residual functional capacity that Social Security determines you have. MD as stated before can impact many body functions and particularly your muscle functions. Whether muscular dystrophy is your only medical condition or one of a series of medical conditions at steps four and five of the process you must show how you are limited from your condition(s). Muscular dystrophy can cause difficulty in many areas of physical functioning such as lifting, carrying, standing, walking, use of your arms, use of your hands, bending, sitting and many other areas.  MD can also have environmental limitations such as an inability to use ladders, stairs, dusty environments, heat, cold, and so on. It may also cause you visual limitations such as double vision, blindness, loss of peripheral vision, etc. One area that certainly should not be forgotten is how your muscular dystrophy affects your mind both directly and indirectly. By directly I mean it is known that certain types of MD can affect your brain which may cause you to have difficulties in learning, controlling your emotions, memory and many other possibilities. Indirectly, muscular dystrophy can cause you to suffer from depression. It is very common for people with serious medical conditions that have changed their lives significantly or cause them to be in pain to suffer from some degree of depression. If this is the case with you, it is extremely important that you be treated for this condition as well. Depression can cause numerous mental limitations on your ability to work. These include, memory, concentration, ability to complete tasks, mood, sleep difficulty, and many other limitations. If you can no longer work and you are trying to get Social Security disability or SSI take some time to write down how your muscular dystrophy affects your ability to do things. Even better, if you take some time each day to write down the things you did that day and how your condition either made things more difficult for you or prevented you from doing them all together. This is important for people with this condition because memory is frequently affected and if you write down specific examples over time you will have a better chance of remembering them later when you need to. If you get to a point where you have to testify in front of the judge, you can look at this journal the night before or the day of the hearing to remember specific examples of how your condition make your life difficult. You will also be able to explain that there were certain things you used to be able to do that you can't do anymore. 

Your testimony at a hearing and the papers you fill out during the Social Security disability process are your chance to explain how your medical condition limits you. However, this will only take you so far as you cannot expect Social Security to take your word for it. To improve your chances of winning your SSDI or SSI case for muscular dystrophy you will need opinion evidence from your doctors showing their opinion of what your limitations are. There are a couple of ways you can do this. You can ask your Dr. for report explaining your condition and how it limits you in your ability to do things and how it would prevent you from working. The more detailed a report like this is the better. The better way in my opinion is the use of RFC forms. I say this for a couple of reasons. First, it lays out exactly the types of limitations that Social Security is looking for because they pertain to abilities you would need to work. Second, because most of the form is a series of check marking a Dr. is usually more willing to fill this out then write a report. The Dr. is usually also much more willing to do these for free or for less money than a full report. It is important that if you have physical and mental limitations that you use of form that covers both of these types of limitations or two forms one that covers the physical limitations and the other covering the mental limitations.

Lawyers and Social Security Disability Claim for Muscular Dystrophy

Having a lawyer for your Social Security disability claim for muscular dystrophy can be helpful in several ways and give you a better chance of winning your SSD or SSI claim. Having an attorney for your SSDI claim for MD will not only increase your chances of winning but hopefully give you a better chance of winning at an earlier stage in the process. This could mean the difference between getting your benefits a year or two from now to within three or six months if you with the help of your lawyer can win at the application or reconsideration stage of the process. If you have heard that no one wins at application don't believe this because it is simply not true. A good number of people lose at application because they file on their own and simply leave it up to Social Security to get the evidence for their claim. A good Social Security disability lawyer will make sure that not only is all of your medical evidence in the file when they make a decision but also that you have the necessary opinion evidence from your doctors that you either meet or equal a listing or that you have limitations that are severe enough to prevent you from working. At the hearing stage in a Social Security disability claim for muscular dystrophy it is important to have the hearing for several reasons. First, as stated above they will make sure all the evidence including your treating records and opinion evidence from your doctors is in your file. Second, the attorney will explain to you what you can expect at the hearing, what you are trying to prove in your particular case, the types of questions that will be asked, and what medical experts or vocational expert’s role will be at the hearing if they are scheduled to be there. Third, the attorney will make sure to ask the questions that the ALJ did not ask that may be helpful to your claim and also follow up with questions if you answered the ALJ in a way that was not clear or that could potentially hurt your case if it is not further explained. A lawyer will also explain to the judge the reason you are disabled using the evidence in the file to support the attorney's arguments. Lastly, something we like to do at my disability law firm and some other attorneys may do, is put in a request for an On The Record Decision (OTR) before the hearing if your case is strong enough. In other words, if we feel that the medical records and opinion evidence are enough to show that you are disabled under Social Security's rules without the need for testimony from you we will write a brief explaining this. If the hearing office agrees with our assessment of the case they can find you disabled without a hearing which could save you months if not a year or more of time waiting for hearing date. OTRs are not appropriate in all cases. Even strong cases that will eventually win do not necessarily mean an OTR is appropriate. An OTR is used when your testimony is not needed to make your claim any stronger anti-favorable decision is obvious on the records alone. Throughout a Social Security disability case there will be times when you have questions and when you have a lawyer you have someone you can call to ask these questions to. A Social Security disability lawyer in your claim for muscular dystrophy will also help you understand not only the SSD or SSI process but also what has to be proved in your particular case to win and what steps are being taken to reach that goal. I believe the earlier you get a lawyer for your MD disability case the better for a couple of reasons. First, you want to make sure your case is handled properly right from the beginning so that the way you answered questions on your application will not come back to hurt you as you go through the SSDI process. Second, since a lawyer’s fee is based on past due benefits if you plan on getting a lawyer if you lose it makes sense to get a lawyer earlier since if you win at an earlier stage your fee will be probably much less than if you win with a lawyer later in the process.

I hope this page has given you a better idea of how a muscular dystrophy Social Security disability case is handled by Social Security. I hope you have also learned that having a disability with a name like muscular dystrophy does not mean you will win your claim based on your diagnosis. What is important is how this condition and other conditions you are claiming limit you in your ability to work. I provide this information so people who want to handle their own claim can do so with the knowledge required to give themselves the best chance to win without a lawyer. However, it is still my believe that if you want to give yourself the best chance to win overall in the quickest amount of time, having a lawyer for your disability claim for muscular dystrophy and knowing all of the information I have provided in this Social Security Disability website is what will truly give you the best chance to win. If you need my help or just wish to ask some questions you are always free to call me at 1-877-527-5529 or just send me an e-mail at the link above on this page. Good luck.

We have attempted to provide up to date and accurate information, however the information in this site is not guaranteed.  No attorney client relationship exist.  The information in this site is not a substitute for consultation with a qualified attorney.
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If you are trying to get your Social Security Disability benefits for Muscular Dystropy and have questions or want help feel free to call me at 1-877-527-5529.