Multiple sclerosis (MS) is classified as a chronic, progressive autoimmune disease:
- Chronic means that the illness doesn’t fade away after one episode. Instead, it’s an ailment that a patient can expect to live with for the rest of his life. There is no cure.
- Progressive means that the illness gradually worsens over time. Some patients have periods of intense symptoms followed by periods of reduced symptoms, a pattern known as relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. Even these patients, however, find that over time the relapsing periods become more intense and more incapacitating, and the remission periods may become shorter, less frequent, or less free from symptoms.
- An autoimmune disease is a disorder caused when the immune system fails to distinguish between invading cells and the body’s healthy cells.
In the case of MS, the immune system begins to attack the central nervous system, including the brain, sensory nerves, and motor nerves extending from the spinal cord. Nerve signals become scrambled.
How multiple sclerosis causes disability
Multiple sclerosis is not fatal. However, its debilitating effects can make the body less able to fight off other diseases later in life. Patients with MS have a life expectancy that is up to ten years shorter than normal for their age group.
For many patients, the first signs of multiple sclerosis are minor and easily mistaken for other illnesses: a slight tremor in the fingers, a persistent headache, blurred vision, or a brief loss of balance. The progressive nature of the disease means that, over time, more symptoms will develop. Among the most commonly seen signs of the disease:
- Joint and muscle pain and weakness
- Numbness or tingling in the extremities
- Problems with writing, using eating utensils, and manipulating small objects
- Slurred speech
- Blurry vision, double vision, or progressive blindness
- Sleep disturbances
- Difficulty concentrating, depression, irrational anger, forgetfulness, confusion, and other changes in mental states
Claiming SSDI benefits for multiple sclerosis
The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program exists to give people who can no longer work an income supplement. SSDI is not welfare; it is an earned public insurance benefit that requires an established work history.
The Social Security Administration has identified autoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis to be potentially qualifying illnesses for SSDI benefits, but those benefits are not granted automatically. An applicant must be able to prove that his multiple sclerosis is severe enough to make it impossible for him to work gainfully. Many patients whose symptoms are moderate or are in remission may have difficulty convincing the Social Security examiner that their condition is truly disabling.
Contacting Schmidt Kramer to get legal representation from an experienced Social Security attorney in Harrisburg can be essential to your success with your Pennsylvania SSDI claim. While we cannot guarantee success in any particular case, we have an excellent record of obtaining benefits on behalf of clients with autoimmune diseases—even clients whose initial applications have been rejected.
If you live in central Pennsylvania and need help with your Social Security disability case, call us at 717.888.8888 or (888) 476-0807 toll-free to schedule a free, confidential case review. We will never charge a fee for legal services unless we can succeed in getting you SSDI benefits.