June is Myasthenia Gravis Awareness Month

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Allsup explains considerations, medical listing for Social Security disability benefits

Allsup supports Myasthenia Gravis Awareness Month this June and offers guidance to those whose symptoms are so severe they cannot continue working.

Drooping eyelids, blurred vision, and slurred speech – 20 out of every 100,000 Americans have an autoimmune neuromuscular disorder that causes these and other symptoms, according to the Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America(MGFA). Allsup, a nationwide Social Security Disability Insurance(SSDI) representation company, supports National Myasthenia Gravis Awareness Month this June, and offers guidance to those whose symptoms are so severe they cannot continue working.

There is no known cause or cure for myasthenia gravis (MG), an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system sends antibodies that prevent muscle cells from receiving messages sent from the nerves. This causes weakening of the muscles, which worsens with activity. Additional symptoms include difficulty chewing and swallowing, weakness in the arms and legs, and difficulty breathing.

While there is no cure for MG, there are treatments available to reduce symptoms. Lifestyle changes also can be beneficial, such as planning for more rest and avoiding stress. The lack of a cure is a driving factor for the MGFA in its mission to spread awareness and raise funds for research.

Those who cannot continue working because of the condition may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. SSDI is a federally mandated disability insurance program overseen by the Social Security Administration (SSA). It provides monthly benefits to individuals who are under full retirement age (age 65 or older) and can no longer work because of a severe disability. The disability must last for 12 months or longer, or be terminal. Individuals must have paid FICA taxes to be eligible.

Social Security Disability Evaluation
Those with myasthenia gravis may consider seeking SSDI benefits when they can no longer work as a result of their condition. Allsup explains the SSA’s five-step disability evaluation process for Social Security disability applicants.

  • First, the SSA determines if the person is “working,” according to agency guidelines. Earning $1,010 or more a month as an employee is enough to be disqualified from receiving SSDI benefits.
  • Then they must conclude the disability caused by MG is severe enough to significantly limit the person’s ability to perform basic work activities needed to do most jobs. Examples include:

     o Walking, standing, sitting, lifting, pushing, pulling, reaching, carrying or handling;
     o Seeing, hearing and speaking;
     o Understanding and remembering simple instructions;
     o Responding appropriately to supervision, co-workers and normal work situations; and
     o Dealing with changes in a routine work setting.

  • The SSA has a medical listing for MG (11.12). According to the listing, if any of the following are present, the person will be found to be disabled:

     o Significant motor weakness and rapid fatigue of muscles of extremities on repetitive activity against resistance while on prescribed therapy,
     o Significant difficulty with speaking, swallowing or breathing while on prescribed therapy.

  • The next step is to determine the residual functional capacity (ability to lift, carry, sit, stand, walk, etc.) of the person to perform past work despite the MG. If the SSA finds that a person can do his or her past work, benefits are denied. If the person cannot, then the process advances to the final step.
  • Finally, the SSA reviews age, education, work experience, physical/mental condition, and residual functional capacity to determine what other work, if any, the person can perform. The medical-vocational rules are applicable at this step, which vary according to age. The rules determine one’s eligibility for disability.

During National Myasthenia Gravis Awareness Month, individuals can support the organization and share educational materials. Find more information by visiting http://www.myasthenia.org.

For questions about Social Security disability, call the Allsup Disability Evaluation Center at (800) 678-3276 for a free SSDI eligibility evaluation.

Allsup is a nationwide provider of Social Security disability, Medicare and Medicare Secondary Payer compliance services for individuals, employers and insurance carriers. Founded in 1984, Allsup employs more than 800 professionals who deliver specialized services supporting people with disabilities and seniors so they may lead lives that are as financially secure and as healthy as possible. The company is based in Belleville, Ill., near St. Louis. For more information, go to http://www.Allsup.com or visit Allsup on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/Allsupinc.

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Tai Venuti
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Rebecca Ray
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