March is National MS Education and Awareness Month

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Allsup promotes awareness and helps individuals be “At Their Best with MS”

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MS is a challenging impairment to evaluate because it is subject to waxing and waning.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an often overlooked and misunderstood disease, according to the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation (MSF). Yet it is one of the most common neurological conditions affecting young adults. Allsup, a nationwide Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) representation company, has helped thousands of people with MS obtain SSDI benefits when they could no longer continue working. During National Multiple Sclerosis Education and Awareness Month (NMSEAM), Allsup applauds organizations raising awareness, advocating for research and offering support and resources to individuals with MS and their families.

The MSF’s 2012 NMSEAM theme is “At Your Best with MS”—encouraging people with MS to do everything they can to maintain the best quality of life possible. According to the MSF, being “At Your Best with MS” could mean adhering to medication plans, eating healthy, keeping fit, finding hobbies and interests that bring pleasure, developing a support network, maintaining good emotional heath, and continuing employment when possible. MS is most commonly diagnosed in individuals during their prime working years, between the ages of 20 and 40.

According to the MSF, about 45 percent of people with MS are not severely affected by the disease. However, MS symptoms vary from person to person. About 15 percent of those diagnosed with MS will become severely disabled, and there are instances when continuing to work is not option. In general, MS symptoms that most commonly make full-time employment impossible are:

  •     Fatigue and weakness
  •     Problems with balance and coordination
  •     Vision problems
  •     Problems with memory, attention, and problem-solving
  •     Depression or mood swings

In those cases, individuals should determine if they are eligible for SSDI benefits, enlist professional help and apply as soon as possible.

“MS is a challenging impairment to evaluate because it is subject to waxing and waning,” said Edward Swierczek, an Allsup senior claimant representative with 38 years of SSDI experience. “An MS relapse may preclude work for a month or two, but SSA’s duration requirement is the inability to work for at least 12 months, or for the condition to result in death.”

MS also affects younger people (under age 50), who often have a harder time obtaining SSDI benefits due to the assumption they can be trained to do other jobs. “If a younger individual does not meet or equate a medical listing, then he or she would have to be severely limited to less than a full range of sedentary work or have a mental impairment that would preclude him or her from meeting the most basic mental demands of competitive employment,” Swierczek explained.

MS is assessed under Medical Listing 11.09 in the Social Security disability program. This medical listing has three subsections that describe the following symptoms as evidence of SSA-defined disability:

1.    Significant and persistent disorganization of motor function in two extremities resulting in sustained disturbance of gross and dexterous movements or gait and station.
2.    A visual or mental impairment.
3.    Significant, reproducible fatigue of motor function with substantial muscle weakness on repetitive activity related to the MS process.

“MS may not meet a medical listing but there may be a combination of impairments, such as difficulty focusing, weakness and fatigue, and decreased concentration that would preclude all work,” Swierczek said. “So, it is important to have a supportive doctor who will provide an accurate assessment of your functioning.”

It is also important to have an experienced SSDI representative help complete the necessary forms and questionnaires, compile a work history, collect medical information meet the deadlines required by the SSA and advocate on your behalf. You can read about one woman who is “at her best with MS” and her experience navigating the SSDI system at http://www.allsup.com/allsup-representation/personal-stories/multiple-sclerosis-ignites-dynamite-case-.aspx

For more information on NSEAM and related events, visit http://www.msfocus.org/national-ms-awareness-month.aspx. For more information on MS and SSDI, visit Allsup.com.

ABOUT THE MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS FOUNDATION
The Multiple Sclerosis Foundation is a publicly-funded non-profit organization headquartered in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. The mission of the MSF is to provide programs and support services to those persons affected by MS that help them maintain health, safety, self-sufficiency, and personal well-being; and to heighten public awareness of multiple sclerosis in order to elicit financial support for the MSF’s programs and services and promote understanding for those diagnosed with the illness. More information can be found on the MSF website at http://www.msfocus.org or by calling 888-MSFOCUS.

ABOUT ALLSUP
Allsup is a nationwide provider of Social Security disability representation and Medicare plan selection services. 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, visit http://www.Allsup.com.

Contact:

Tai Venuti
Allsup
(800) 854-1418, ext. 68573
t(dot)venuti(at)allsupinc(dot)com

Kasey Minnis
Multiple Sclerosis Foundation    
(800) 225-6495
admin(at)msfocus(dot)org

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Tai Venuti
Allsup
800-854-1418 ext 8573
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Kasey Minnis
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