Many people diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) are able to work when they are first diagnosed and maybe for several years after the initial diagnosis. Unfortunately Multiple Sclerosis is a degenerative condition affecting the central nervous system, is irreversible and worsens with time. Each individual’s symptoms are unique. I have represented many clients that have lost visual acuity or visual efficiency. Some will experience periods of blindness without warning and some will experience a decrease in their overall vision, blurred vision and/or double vision. This also may be accompanied by a mental confusion which is noticed when the person cannot find the word they want to say even when it is a frequently used word or their speech may be slurred at times. There also may be disorientation in time and place, as being confused as to where they are going or where they are presently. Again these can be just certain periods of confusion, or can come on subtly and progress as time goes on.
In other cases, there is disorganization of motor function. What that means is that the person is having trouble controlling their arms, legs, hands and/or feet. These symptoms can be muscle stiffness, numbness, weakness, tingling and pain, and/or tremors. I have seen cases where it can be only one sided (left or right), only upper extremities (arms/hands), only lower extremities (legs/feet) or both and/or a combination of both. It is often difficult for the person to safely walk, as they are unsteady on their feet, or to use their hands for prolonged periods of time to complete the tasks necessary to do their job. Some of the symptoms are described as feeling as if they are being shocked multiple times throughout the day without warning and interfering with the ability to complete the task at hand.
I have also seen cases where the Multiple Sclerosis patient has extreme and significant fatigue which results in substantial muscle weakness with any type of activity. As the Multiple Sclerosis progresses the control over other body functions, including the bladder function can deteriorate.
This person also cannot work because they are unable to work an entire eight (8) hour day and/or an entire week because of the progression of the symptoms as they try to use their bodies. It is also possible that a person may be experiencing a combination of these symptoms all of the time, some of the time or none of the time, as there are often periods of remission. Many of my Multiple Sclerosis clients are able to work part-time and manage their symptoms. You can still obtain Social Security Disability while working part-time as long as the condition is preventing the person from working on a full-time basis. Part time work is usually not considered substantial gainful activity (i.e. work) for Social Security purposes. I encourage my clients to work for as long as they can and/or during their periods of remission even after they have obtained Social Security benefits. As long as Social Security is informed that the person is working on a part time basis, it usually does not interfere with obtaining benefits.
Disclaimer: These pages are only observations from my point of view of some of the factors that are present in the diagnosis. I am not a doctor, I am a lawyer and I am only providing observations of various signs and symptoms that I have seen during my practice and/or the signs and symptoms that I evaluate when taking a client in front of an Administrative Law Judge.