Ram contacted me regarding doing a guest blog post on Parkinson’s Journey on getting help when filing for disability for Parkinson’s patients.
This is her very informative and helpful article for those seeking to hopefully, speed up what can often be a very long, frustrating, and discouraging process in the PD community – filing for disability. I hope you find it helpful and / or can pass it along to others who may be in need of direction in their attempts at filing for disability through the Social Security system.
Thank you, Ram, for reaching out to help those who find it hard to get the help they so desperately need.
Journeying with you – Sherri
Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits Due to Parkinson’s disease
As you likely know, if you have firsthand experience with this condition, people with Parkinson’s disease face worsening symptoms such as muscle stiffness, tremors, and trouble with motor skills. As these symptoms become more severe over time, it will become increasingly difficult, or impossible, for this person to maintain a job. Not only do people living with Parkinson’s often struggle to pay for day-to-day expenses, but they also have to worry about costly medical expenses. This is when having Social Security disability benefits become a major source of relief.
Qualifying for Social Security Benefits With Parkinson’s
Parkinson’s is a special case when it comes to Social Security claims because there is no definitive test or lab report that will prove a Parkinson’s diagnosis. What you can provide is a detailed report provided by your physician – perhaps a neurologist – that demonstrates any physical evidence of your condition, as well as the severity of the symptoms you are facing.
A diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease is typically reached once a physician finds evidence that you are showing signs of at least two of the cardinal symptoms, which includebradykinesia (which refers to slowness of movements), muscle rigidity, and tremors. When determining if someone is eligible for Social Security benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) looks for evidence that these symptoms impede significantly on an individual’s ability to complete typical workplace tasks.
People who live with Parkinson’s disease are generally approved for assistance if they are able to provide strong evidence that the condition has significantly made it difficult to stand, lift, walk, or even sit for an extended period of time. A strong Social Security Disability application will typically include documentation provided by medical professionals that show that the applicant is experiencing ongoing and debilitating symptoms in at least two extremities, even though they are undergoing prescribed treatments.
The SSA Blue Book, when listing eligibility requirements, does not specifically address the many emotional and cognitive issues that people experiencing the later stages of Parkinson’s can often experience. However, if these symptoms are making it difficult for someone to understand and follow directions when working, they can be used as evidence in the application process.
Understanding The Difference Between SSI and SSDI
There are two different Social Security Disability Programs for which you can apply: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).The primary difference between SSDI and SSI is that SSDI benefits are accessible to people that are too disabled to work, and who have paid into the system through payroll taxes, and have accumulated enough work credits. SSI benefits are available to people who are disabled, or over 65 years old, but who have a very limited income and who have not accumulated enough work credits to receive SSD assistance. SSI benefits are strictly needs based, and the amount received will depend upon income and the state where the applicant resides.
You can learn more about the two disability programs here:http://ssa-custhelp.ssa.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/245/~/difference-between-social-security-disability-and-ssi-disability
What to Expect from the Social Security Disability Application Process
It is important to realize that the SSD application process can be quite lengthy. Most people with Parkinson’s disease, who apply, are often denied assistance initially, but a substantial number are then approved for benefits after an appeals and hearing process.
If you, or a loved one, have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, it is never to soon to begin investigating the SSD application process, as you could be waiting over a year to begin receiving badly needed financial assistance. To improve the chances that you will be granted approval for Social Security disability benefits as soon as possible, it is recommended that you seek legal guidance during the complex application and appealing procedures.