Multiple Sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord. The symptoms and severity of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) can vary among those afflicted with the disease, but it is not uncommon for the condition to prevent a person from working. Symptoms can include fatigue, loss of balance, muscle spasms, numbness, weakness, tremors, problems with coordination, difficulty walking, vision problems, bowel/bladder difficulties, inability to concentrate, memory problems, and speech impairments.
When MS prevents a person from working and they file a disability claim with their insurance company or the Social Security Administration, there are a few things that can help prove that MS is disabling. The first step is to make sure that the patient has been diagnosed properly. That includes undergoing exams like MRIs of the brain and spine, nerve function studies, and lumbar punctures. These objective test results are essential to ruling out other conditions and determining whether a patient has MS. Moreover, these test results can also indicate the severity level of a patient’s MS.
Second, it is important for the MS patient to maintain regular treatment with a neurologist. Although other physicians may be able to order tests to diagnose MS, a neurologist is necessary to conduct a neurological exam, understand the severity of the symptoms, and determine the appropriate treatment. Unfortunately, there is no known cure for MS. Nonetheless, a neurologist will be able to advise the patient of different treatment options that may be able to slow the disease. This can include medication management, steroids, physical therapy, or lifestyle changes.
Third, it is important for the patient to carefully explain to the neurologist what kinds of symptoms they are experiencing, including their level of fatigue. It can be helpful for the patient to explain to the neurologist which chores he or she cannot perform around the house, and other decreases in functioning. In fact, an MS patient may want to record their symptoms in a diary or log to make sure that they are accurately communicating their symptoms to their neurologist. Technology has made reporting these symptoms more convenient – there are now smart phone apps that allow an MS patient to record their symptoms. Not only will reporting the full list of symptoms to the neurologist help them form an appropriate treatment plan, but it will also document the patient’s abilities and inabilities. Documenting the patient’s functional deficits is significant to the success of the disability claim.
If the patient has filed a disability insurance claim, then it is important that the patient’s neurologist and other treating providers submit complete and updated medical records to the insurer. The insurer may also require the neurologist and other treating providers to complete questionnaires about the patient’s functional abilities. Making sure that the physicians are cooperating with the insurance company is instrumental in supporting a disability claim.
When an MS patient’s disability has lasted longer than 12 months or is expected to last longer than 12 months, then they can apply for Social Security disability benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) lists the requirements to prove a disability based on Multiple Sclerosis. Again, the cooperation of the patient’s neurologist and other treating providers is necessary to prove disability to the SSA.
Filing a disability claim for Multiple Sclerosis can be challenging, but an attorney can help prove that a patient is entitled to disability insurance or Social Security disability benefits. If your claim for long term disability benefits has been denied or terminated, contact the O’Ryan Law Firm today so that we can investigate your claim. Ph: 317-255-1000.