If you live with multiple sclerosis and are unable to work due to an MS-related disability and/or other conditions, you might be entitled to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. The Social Security Disability Guidebook can assist in deciding whether applying for disability benefits is right for you and in navigating the complex application process.
Social Security Disability Benefits: Frequently Asked Questions
The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes MS as a chronic illness or “impairment” that can cause disability severe enough to prevent an individual from working. If you have any of the following symptoms, or any combination of these or other symptoms, that prevent you from working, you might qualify for Social Security benefits:
- Difficulty with walking and other motor skills
- Difficulty seeing
- Difficulty concentrating or completing simple tasks
- Difficulty remembering
- Extreme fatigue, regardless of sleep
- Speech impairment
- Side effects of medication(s)
While SSI and SSDI provide different benefits, SSA uses the same disability determination process for both. You can even qualify for both at the same time. This Guidebook focuses primarily on the SSDI application process but includes helpful information for both programs. If you need additional information or help as you read through the Guidebook, contact your chapter of the National MS Society, call SSA at 1-800-772-1213, or visit www.socialsecurity.gov/disability.
MS in the Compassionate Allowances Listings
In December 2011, the Social Security Administration added an advanced form of MS, “Malignant MS,” to its list of Compassionate Allowances conditions. The Compassionate Allowances (CAL) initiative is a way to expedite the processing of SSDI and SSI disability claims for applicants whose medical conditions are so severe that their conditions obviously meet Social Security’s definition of disability. “Malignant MS” includes individuals who live with advanced MS, aggressive MS, Fulminant MS, or Marburg’s Variant MS. For more information and to determine if you would qualify for expedited review, read these: