Applying for Multiple Sclerosis Disability Benefits
The lasting effects of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) call for a strong support network. And multiple sclerosis disability benefits should be part of your network. Advances in the study and treatment of MS are causes for hope in the future. In the meantime, resources are available to help you create your own brighter future.
MS is a chronic autoimmune disease that effects almost a million Americans. The disease attacks the central nervous system impairing the ability of signals to get from the brain to other parts of the body. In addition to the nervous system, MS also affects the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves.
While MS affects individuals of all ages, the majority of people are diagnosed with MS between the ages of 20 and 50. These are the primary income-producing years making multiple sclerosis disability benefits even more critical to your long-term security.
How Does Your Disability Insurance Policy Define Disability?
Long-term disability insurance policies vary in their definitions and qualifications for multiple sclerosis disability benefits, but there are commonalities. For the first two years under an insurance policy, "totally disabled" means you cannot perform the primary duties of your profession. In subsequent years, the definition of disability changes to your inability to work in any profession for which your education and training may qualify you.
The unpredictability of the disease can make it difficult to document its severity. Long-term disability benefits for MS require documentation of each episode of disability, especially details about the symptoms, why symptoms prevented one's ability to work, and the length of the episode. Many insurance companies understand the erratic nature of MS, but documentation is an essential part of the disability evaluation process.
Common Symptoms of MS
The symptoms of MS vary greatly from person to person and sometimes affect more than one system of the body at the same time. Symptoms may be related to physical, emotional, mental, or psychological functioning.
- Difficulty with balance and mobility
- Tremors or weakness in arms and legs
- Bladder and bowel problems
- Visual problems, including dimmed or double vision, or loss of vision
- Numbness or tingling in the face, arms, or legs
- Loss of hearing
- Difficulty with memory and concentration
- Depression or anxiety
- Speech problems
- Difficulty chewing and swallowing
- Extreme fatigue
Providing Medical Evidence of Your MS
There is no single test in the diagnosis of MS. But there are some tests people commonly use to show evidence of the disease. The diagnosis of MS is often a process of eliminating other diseases to arrive at the conclusion that MS is the problem. Consulting with a physician who specializes in autoimmune diseases, such as a neurologist, could weigh in your favor. This is true not only during diagnosis and treatment but when it comes to applying for benefits.
An MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, is used to detect areas of demyelination (a process in which the myelin sheath that protects nerve fibers is eroded) which is caused by MS. A spinal tap, or lumbar puncture, is also used to eliminate other possible conditions such as HIV, syphilis, or Lyme disease. This results of this test identify organic changes in proteins and other antibodies whose levels increase with MS. Other tests that might be used simultaneously with an MRI and spinal tap are x-rays, EEGs, or a CAT scan.
Tests related to specific symptoms should also be included. For example, if an individual experiences loss of vision or hearing, tests related to those symptoms are tangible proof of an episode of MS.
Some symptoms are referred to as "invisible" because they cannot be observed such as lack of concentration, memory loss, or fatigue should be specifically attributed to MS when they are recorded in your medical records.
What Is the Effect of MS on Your Ability to Work?
The long-term disability insurance company will assess your physical, sensory, and mental function to determine your Residual Functional Capacity (RFC). A physical RFC might include impairments related to your ability to stand, balance, walk, and perform tasks such as lifting, pushing or pulling.
A mental RFC would include limitations related to concentration, memory loss, depression, anxiety or comprehension. If severe enough, any of these impairments could prevent one's ability to return to work.
Despite your best efforts, your insurance company may deny your claim, or delay paying your claim as long as possible. If you run into these problems, you're not alone. The assistance of an experienced long-term disability lawyer can help you side-step some of these complications.
Learn More About Qualifying for Multiple Sclerosis Disability Benefits
At CJ Henry Law Firm, we combine medical and legal expertise to give you an important advantage when applying for multiple sclerosis disability benefits. Contact us today to learn more.