For some people suffering from degenerative diseases like Multiple Sclerosis (MS), their conditions prevent them from being able to sustain the necessary activity throughout the day required for work. In New York City, 889,219 people live with a disability, including many that have MS.

What are Social Security disability benefits?

Social Security Administration (SSA) provides benefits for people who are deemed unable to perform substantial gainful activity in the national economy. There are two types of disability benefits — Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSI is a grant given to poor and low-resource disabled individuals so that they do not fall into extreme poverty, while SSDI is an insurance benefit determined by the number of quarters that a person paid Social Security taxes.

A multiple sclerosis disability benefit determination comes with health insurance. Individuals receiving SSI are eligible for Medicaid after a multiple sclerosis disability benefit determination, while SSDI recipients can enroll in Medicare after two years of disability. With the recent changes in the Medicaid law, SSDI recipients may be able to enroll in Medicaid immediately if their monthly income is less than125 percent of the poverty level.

What is the multiple sclerosis disability benefit process like?

The Social Security disability benefits for multiple sclerosis process begins with a claimant filing an application explaining the disability and listing medical records that support their multiple sclerosis disability benefit claim with Disability Determination Services (DDS) — a state organization that SSA funds. DDS reviews the application and makes a determination of Social Security disability benefits for multiple sclerosis for the claimant. If a claimant disagrees with DDS’s decision, he or she can appeal to SSA’s Office of Disability Adjudication and Review where the case is heard in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Usually, DDS denies the initial application, and the claimant has to appeal that multiple sclerosis disability benefit decision, though in some cases, DDS makes a quick initial determination. When a claimant is denied by the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review, he or she has the option of appealing the case to the federal court system. Certain cases warrant appeals to the courts; however, appeals are far less common at this stage. Altogether, the process takes about two years from the initial filing date to complete.

How is MS categorized as a disability by SSA?

SSA has three listings that qualify someone for Social Security disability benefits for multiple sclerosis. Those listings are:

  • Disorganization of motor function: Claimants have paresis, paralysis, tremors or complications often enough to prevent them from working.
  • Visual or mental impairment: MS affects visual acuity, especially when reading, making it too difficult to perform simple job duties.
  • Muscle weakness: Claimant becomes exhausted and develops muscle weakness during repetitive activity. This must be demonstrated by a physical examination.


What should I do if I think I may qualify for Social Security disability benefits for multiple sclerosis?

If you are having trouble working because of your MS, it is a good idea to discuss your symptoms with your doctor. Medical records are crucial in making a disability determination. Speaking with a lawyer early in the process can be helpful. A lawyer can explain your rights and make sure that your doctor understands the disability listings.

The law firm of Markhoff & Mittman P.C. is prepared to handle the complexities of claims for Social Security disability benefits for multiple sclerosis. Call our offices at (866) 205-2415 for a free consultation.