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News from February 2013

Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits with Multiple Sclerosis

February 19, 2013

Multiple Sclerosis is recognized by the Social Security Administration (SSA) as a condition that qualifies for social security disability benefits. When applying for benefits due to multiple sclerosis the first step is the initial application process. It is important to understand that only approximately 30 percent of applicants are approved for benefits during this stage. To increase your chances of being approved during the initial application process, you need to provide the SSA with medical evidence that demonstrates that your case of multiple sclerosis meets the conditions set forth in the SSA’s Blue Book.

Qualifying for Benefits

Multiple sclerosis is covered in Section 11.09 of the SSA’s Blue Book. This Blue Book contains a listing of all of the conditions that could qualify an individual for Social Security Disability benefits. Having a condition that is listed in the Blue Book, however, is not enough to qualify you for benefits from the SSA. You must be able to prove that your condition meets the requirements that have been set forth under the listing that pertains to your condition.

According to Section 11.09 of the Blue Book, in order to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits due to multiple sclerosis you must be able to prove:

• You suffer from a disorganization of motor function in two extremities that has resulted in chronic disturbance of your gross and dexterous movements or gait; or
• You suffer from visual impairment that results in vision of 20/200 or less; or
• You suffer from mental impairment that prevents you from maintaining full-time work activity; or
• You suffer from reproducible fatigue of motor function with substantial muscle weakness when performing repetitive activity, which is demonstrated on physical examination and results from neurological dysfunction in the areas of the central nervous system that are known to be pathologically involved by the multiple sclerosis process.

When submitting your initial application for Social Security Disability benefits, you will want to provide medical evidence documenting that your condition meets the above-mentioned criteria. If you cannot obtain such medical evidence because your case of MS does not meet these guidelines but still prevents you from performing gainful work activity, you will need to fill out a residual functional capacity form and try to obtain SSDI or SSI benefits based on a vocational allowance.

Filing a Disability Appeal

If you are denied benefits during the initial stage of the application process, you will need to appeal the SSA’s decision. The first stage of appeals is referred to as a Request for Reconsideration. Unfortunately more than 80 percent of these requests are denied.

The second stage of the appeal process is called a disability hearing. This is when you will have your case heard by an administrative law judge and it is also the part of the appeal process that grants you the greatest chance of being awarded the benefits you are applying for. While it can take two years or more to actually obtain a hearing date, the good news is that nearly two-thirds of applicants who attend a hearing receive their disability benefits as a result of said hearing.

The Services of a Social Security Disability Attorney

When applying for Social Security Disability benefits it is crucial that all of your application forms are filled out properly and that you submit as much medial evidence as possible with your application. Because it is essential that you have all of your paperwork in perfect order, you may want to consider retaining the services of a Social Security attorney. These lawyers work with these cases on a daily basis and understand what the SSA needs to see in order to approve your case for benefits. Statistics have shown that applicants who go into the process with proper legal representation are more likely to be awarded benefits than applicants who do not.

Information provided by Ram Meyyappan, who manages a site called Social Security Disability Help (www.socialsecurity-disability.org), which is an informational website on the Social Security Disability program.

Ideas to help fundraise for your Virtual Race Page!

February 8, 2013

Thank you so much for everyone who has joined our Virtual Race and to all those getting involved in donating and helping to raise money for MS research so we can find a cure! Here are a few ideas to raise some money for your Virtual Race page – we want to help you raise money so you can earn tickets to our 20th Anniversary Gala on May 3, 2013. There is a little more than a month left to fundraise! We are more than happy to send t shirts or information if you decide to partner with a business or hold an event fundraiser.

1. Send out an email to 20 friends and family members asking them for a $20 donation!
2. Tweet and Facebook about your donation page on #CharityTuesday!
3. Partner with a local restaurant and throw a dining fundraiser when for one day the restaurant will donate proceeds to the foundation on your behalf – create flyers to invite your friends and family! Get the neighborhood involved!
4. Partner with a fitness studio and ask them to donate a workout class –where you can invite your friends and family to attend a donation-based workout class; then the proceeds from the workout class can go to your donation page
5. Turn your birthday party into a fundraiser. Invite friends to your house or to a restaurant, and ask in your invitation that, in lieu of gifts, people make donations to the organization or cause.
6. Host a cookout or reception at your home, invite your friends (and encourage them to invite their friends). In your invitation, note clearly that this is a fundraiser for a particular organization and that you will be asking for donations. At the event, make a brief speech that you are raising money for the organization, and have flyers from the organization so people can learn more about it.
7. Hold a fundraiser at a local bar. Simply ask the bar if there is a slow day or night that you could use as a fundraiser for your cause. Tell everyone via your Facebook, email, at a social event, etc., that you are undertaking this activity and encourage them to attend and to share the information via their own networks as well. Ask a band or friends who sing to provide entertainment.
8. Sell home-made, baked goods at a small event, with permission of the event organizers. Have information about the organization to pass out and a sign that lets people know where their money is going.

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