Social Security Disability Benefits for Persons with Multiple Sclerosis

January 12,2010
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Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a debilitating autoimmune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord. According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, “[a]pproximately 400,000 Americans have MS, and every week about 200 people are diagnosed. World-wide, MS affects about 2.5 million people.”

The disease is caused by damage to the myelin sheath, the protective covering that surrounds nerve cells. Inflammation along the brain, optic nerve or spinal cord damages the sheath, slowing down or even stopping nerve impulses in the inflamed area. While the cause of the inflammation is unclear, many researchers believe that it is the result of a virus, genetic defect, or a combination of the two. More than twice as many women as men have MS, and studies indicate that people with a family history of MS as well as those who live in certain geographic areas have a slightly higher risk of the disease.

Symptoms – which come and go, often lasting for days, weeks, or months – include loss of balance and coordination, weakness, difficulty walking or moving, numbness, decreased attention span and reasoning problems. Although many who suffer from MS remain able to walk, they often require an aid, such as a cane or crutches, and some use a scooter or wheelchair. MS can also affect a person’s bowel and bladder system causing incontinence and constipation.

While there is no known cure for MS, a variety of medication, physical and occupational therapy is used to treat and sometimes slow the disease.

People who suffer from MS and, as a result, are unable to work for one year or more are eligible for federal Social Security Disability benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) makes Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments to adults and children who are disabled or blind and have limited income and resources. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), on the other hand, is available to disabled persons, their spouses and children – regardless of income and resources – if the disabled person has made sufficient payments into the Social Security system. Some persons may be eligible for a combination of SSDI and SSI, but the typical wage earner will have a large enough SSDI benefit that no SSI will be payable.

Although more than two million people file for Social Security benefits each year, about 65% of all claims are initially rejected nationwide, including many valid claims. If your benefits claim is denied, you are entitled to appeal the decision in a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. This is the best opportunity to prove and win a case. At the hearing, you have the opportunity, through a New York Social Security disability attorney if you choose, to explain the case. Specifically, you may testify before the judge, present evidence and bring witnesses to testify on your behalf. Your lawyer will cross-examine Social Security medical and vocational experts and make closing statements.

The attorneys at Hermann Law Group have over 50 years of experience in successfully representing Social Security Disability claimants. Year after year, our New York disability lawyers are successful in well over 90% of the claims we handle, and we can offer you the knowledge and support that you need during this stressful, difficult time. We will not charge you a fee unless we win your case. Please call or contact us to set up an appointment.