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Parkinson’s Disease Social Security Disability
I have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, can I get Social Security Disability benefits (SSD or SSDI), Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB), or Supplemental Security Income benefits (SSI)?
In a Social Security disability claim for Parkinson’s disease, receiving a diagnosis is just the start. The main focus is usually on the symptoms you experience from Parkinson’s disease and how these symptoms affect your ability to work eight (8) hours per day, five (5) days per week.
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive degenerative disorder of the central nervous system that mainly affects movement. This is due to the deficiency of the neurotransmitter dopamine in an area of the brain called the basal ganglia.
Does Parkinson’s Disease Qualify Me For Disability Benefits?
The symptoms come on slowly over time. Early in the disease, the most obvious are trembling, rigidity, slowness/difficulty in movement, and difficulty walking. After diagnosis, treatments can help relieve symptoms, but there is no cure.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a 5-stepprocess to determine if you are disabled.
Step 1. Are you working?
First of all, the SSA considers if you have a Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA). If you do,they will not consider you disabled. Each year, there is a specified minimum amount of earnings to indicate SGA. In 2018, it is $1,180 per month if you are not blind and $1,970per month if you are blind. If you are working and earning more than the SGA limit, then you will not be considered disabled. If you are not working, or if you are earning less than SGA, then you canproceed to Step 2 where Parkinson’s disease and any other conditions are considered.
Step 2. Is your medical condition “severe”?
For the SSA to consider you disabled, your medical condition must substantially limit your ability to do basic work activities, such as sitting; standing; walking; lifting; carrying; understanding, remembering, and carrying out simple instructions; making simple work-related decisions; responding appropriately to supervision, co-workers, and work stress; and dealing with changes in a routine work setting.
In SSA standards, disability means you have a medically determinable physical or mentalimpairment (or a combination of impairments) that is severe and has lasted or is expected last one (1) year or end in death. Severity is an important aspect. If your medical condition is not that severe, you won’t meet the requirements for Social Security disability benefits. But if your condition is that severe, the SSA assessment goes to Step 3.
Step 3. Does your medical condition meet or equal the severity of a Listing?
The SSA has a list of medical criteria to qualify “severe” medical conditions. The Adult Listing for Parkinson’s disease can be found here.
If none of your impairments matches any of the listings or if it does not meet the duration requirement, the SSA will look into what you are still capable of doing. This is your Residual Functional Capacity (RFC). To determine this, the SSA conducts a function-by-function assessment of your maximum ability to perform sustained work-related activities regularly and continually. In short, they evaluate your capacity to do full-time work. The process then proceeds to Step 4.
Step 4. Can you perform any of the jobs you’ve done in the past fifteen (15) years?
The SSA looks into your past relevant work (PRW) and determines if your medical condition prevents you from doing this. Your PRW is any work that was substantial gainful activity (SGA); performed in the fifteen (15) year relevant period; and performed long enough to learn the job.
If the SSA decides you can perform any of your PRW,they will not consider you disabled. But if they find that you can no longer perform your PRW, or if you have not been able to work in the last fifteen (15) years, theSSA goes on to Step 5.
Here at Step 4, you must present proof. Two of the strongest types of evidence you can present are medical records and the opinions of the doctors who are treating you for your condition.
The most solid medical evidence is what is known as objective medical evidence, or evidence that is based on independent tests instead of what you tell your doctors. Meanwhile, the most solid opinions are those fromspecialists or doctors who specialize in your specific condition, andbacked by objective medical evidence.
Some types of objective medical evidence that can support a claim for disability based upon Parkinson’s disease include:
- Documents showing physical limitations such as:
- Difficulty in limb movements
- Difficulty in standing up from a seated position
- Troubles in balancing, standing upright, walking, including double-vision issues
- Challenges performing work-related tasks due to limb limitations
- Breathing problems
- Other functional limitations recorded by your neurologist.
- Documents showing mental function criteria:
- Challenges in maintaining work concentration, pace, or persistence
- Difficulty in social interactions
- Difficultyin emotional control
- Problems in remembering, understanding, or applying information
- Medications you are receiving for Parkinson’s disease, as well as your recorded responses to these medications
- Surgical procedures performed on you, such as deep brain stimulation (DBS)
- Physical therapy or related therapies addressing your Parkinson’s disease
- Recorded impact of Parkinson’s disease on your mental and physical health
- Recorded progression of the disease as well as its projected path.
Doctors who specialize in treating Parkinson’s disease include:
- Neurologist specializing in movement disorders
- General Neurologist (in the absence of a Neurologist with specialty training)
If you are only consulting with a primary care doctor or your family doctorforParkinson’s disease, the SSA may take this as an indication that your condition is not that serious (because if it is, you would be treating with a specialist). You can locate sources of specialized treatment even if you don’t have health insurance, with the help of an experienced Social Security disability attorney.
Step 5. Can you do any other type of work?
Here at Step 5, the SSA has the “burden of proof” – that is, they are the ones to find evidence. If you cannot perform your past relevant work, the SSA checks if you can do other types of work. It assesses your medical condition, your age,education, past work experience, and any skills you may have that could be used to do other work.
If they find that you can do other work, the SSA will not consider you disabled. But if you cannot perform any other work, the SSA will likely conclude that you are disabled.
If you are older than 50, there are special rules that may apply and help you claim disability even if you are found able to do other work.A knowledgeable Social Security disability lawyer should be familiar with these special rules and should ensure that they are considered in your case evaluation.
Many people suffering from Parkinson’s disease have great difficulty getting through day to day aspects of life. Applying for Social Security benefits can be daunting and may even seem overwhelming and incredibly expensive.
Contact Gillette Law Group
It’s important to know that aqualified disability attorney or advocate can assist you with this burdensome process.We at Gillette Law Group are highly experienced in this process, and we commit this experience to real people like you.
You may have a tight deadline, so contact us right away at (855) 873-2604. Your consultation with us is free.