Obtaining social security disability benefits can be difficult for those struggling with Multiple Sclerosis, despite the debilitating nature of the disease. In honor of Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month, White Plains attorney, Brian Mittman, reveals three things every claimant must know when seeking social security disability benefits.

White Plains, NY- March is Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month, an observance dedicated to promoting understanding and awareness about the chronic, and typically progressive disease involving damage to the sheaths of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.

While symptoms may vary, people with MS most commonly experience numbness, impairment of speech and muscle coordination, blurred vision and severe fatigue.

Over time, these symptoms can become so severe that they prevent the individual from working on a full-time basis.  Yet even with a diagnosis of MS, obtaining disability benefits when a person becomes unable to work is not as easy as it seems.

“Just because your doctor says you are disabled does not mean you will automatically qualify for social security disability benefits,” says White Plains Social Security attorney Brian Mittman , who is participating in this year’s “MS Climb To The Top” event.  “Even though MS is a listed impairment according to the SSA, it can be hard to meet the Government’s threshold if you don’t fully understand the process,” he adds.

To help increase an individual’s chances of obtaining benefits, Mittman says there are 3 things every potential claimant should know when dealing with the Social Security Administration:

  1. Claimants have the “burden of proof”- Mittman says that potential claimants bear the responsibility of proving they are disabled to the SSA and/or the Administrative Law Judge assigned to rule on the case.  “You must be your own best advocate to ensure you obtain the benefits you deserve.  If you don’t prove your case, you’ll get denied. It’s that simple,” says Mittman.
  2. The thoroughness of your doctor is key- Because claims for people with MS are so dependent on meeting strict medical thresholds, the documentation of the claimant’s physician is key.  If he or she says that the person is disabled but does not provide proper records in the form of narratives, testing and SSA forms, the claimant will likely be denied according to Mittman.
  3. “No” doesn’t always mean no- Mittman admits that most people are denied benefits following their first application. “A denial does not mean that you will never get benefits…it simply means you may need to take things to the next level and bring an attorney on board or work more closely with your doctor to get the supporting evidence you need during the appeal phase. Most people find the odds are better the second or even third time around” he says.

Social security disability benefits are often a critical lifeline for people struggling with MS who find themselves unable to work and provide for their families. Mittman says that by becoming educated on the process and knowing what to expect, people with MS will find they encounter fewer hassles and headaches when applying for social security disability benefits.

For more information on Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month, visit http://www.nationalmssociety.org/. For more tips on obtaining social security benefits with MS, request Brian Mittman’s free guide, “The Disability Guys’ Guide to Multiple Sclerosis and Federal Social Security Disability Benefits” by calling toll-free 866-205-2415.