January 25, 2020

General Tips for Winning a Multiple Sclerosis Disability Case

It is no question, Multiple Sclerosis is considered to be a debilitating disease. The symptoms of this disease include cognitive impairment, staggering, blurred vision, poor balance, and altered sensations (such as electric shock or the feeling of pins and needles).

Usually with this illness, the symptoms tend to develop over a period of time. There are some patients who experience periods of remission. This can be an issue in a Social Security case. This is because the SSA looks for an exact onset date for a claimant’s disability (i.e. at exactly what point did the disability begin?). In a MS case, it can be tough to pinpoint that onset date since you may have had alternating periods of okay times mixed with times of flare-ups and difficulty.

In a publication produced by the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives (NOSSCR), there was once an article about a woman who suffered from MS.

The woman experienced her initial debilitating episode of MS back in 1998. This is when she was diagnosed with MS and this is when she stopped working. But as the next few years went by, she only suffered from minor episodes. Then, in February of 2003, she experienced a major flare-up.

In December of 2001, the woman’s insured status for Title II Disability had expired. In September, 2002 the woman applied for SSDI and claimed that her onset date was April, 1998 – the time of her first major MS episode. But Her MS disability case was denied because the SSA noticed that her condition improved after April, 1998, and she could have theoretically returned to the workplace

Fortunately, the woman appealed this decision and won. She appealed on the basis that MS is a disease consisting of periods of flare-ups and remission, and that even though she had some good periods, she was still disabled by the condition. The appeals court sided with the woman because the ALJ was wrong for placing undue reliance upon the short temporary intermission of the plaintiff’s increasingly disabling disease.

Another reason she may have initially lost is because the Judge may not have considered all the evidence. Often times, the SSA judges fail to evaluate medical evidence for treatment following the claimant’s date last insured for Title II. Which means in this case, the Judge may have only looked at evidence up to September of 2002.

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