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Multiple sclerosis (MS) involves an immune-mediated process in which an abnormal response of the body’s immune system is directed against the central nervous system (CNS). The CNS is made up of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves.

Within the CNS, the immune system causes inflammation that damages myelin — the fatty substance that surrounds and insulates the nerve fibers — as well as the nerve fibers themselves, and the specialized cells that make myelin.

The cause of MS is still unknown. Scientists believe that a combination of environmental and genetic factors contribute to the risk of developing MS.

The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease.

If you live with multiple sclerosis and are unable to work due to an MS-related disability, you might be entitled to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.

If you are not working and meet Social Security Listing 11.09 you will be considered disabled.

11.09 Multiple sclerosis, characterized by A or B:

  1. Disorganization of motor function in two extremities (see 11.00D1), resulting in an extreme limitation (see 11.00D2) in the ability to stand up from a seated position, balance while standing or walking, or use the upper extremities.


  1. Marked limitation (see 11.00G2) in physical functioning (see 11.00G3a), and in one of the following:
  2. Understanding, remembering, or applying information (see 11.00G3b(i)); or
  3. Interacting with others (see 11.00G3b(ii)); or
  4. Concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace (see 11.00G3b(iii)); or
  5. Adapting or managing oneself (see 11.00G3b(iv)).


Even if your condition is not as severe as Listing11.09, you can still qualify for benefits if the mental and physical limitations imposed by MS leave you with a residual functional capacity so compromised that you are prevented from performing your past jobs and all other forms of substantial gainful activity. Common disabling symptoms can include fatigue, weakness, motor loss, pain, visual disturbances, depression, anxiety, decreased stress tolerance, impaired memory, and concentration difficulties. It is not uncommon for the disease to be intermittently more restricting and the variability of the symptoms will not preclude a finding of disability.

In December 2011, Social Security added an advanced form of MS, Malignant MS, to the list of Compassionate Allowance conditions. Under that category, individuals who live with advanced MS, aggressive MS, Fulminant MS, or Marburg’s Variant MS may qualify for expedited benefits on a much quicker administrative track.

Call Green & Greenberg if you suffer from MS and are considering applying for SSI or Disability Insurance Benefits. We can help!


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