Multiple sclerosis is a central nervous system disease that affects the spinal cord, brain and optic nerve. MS disrupts the transmission of information between nerves. This can cause numerous debilitating effects, as any Social Security attorney in Chicago knows. These effects include fatigue, muscle weakness, vision problems and cognitive issues.
Disease-modifying therapies can stop the progression of relapse-remitting MS, but there is currently no cure for the disease. However, a stem cell transplant treatment shows potential to mitigate disability stemming from the most common form of MS.
Abnormal immune system reactions contribute to nerve damage associated with MS. In a recent study, researchers addressed this by “resetting” patients’ immune systems with stem cells. The 151 patients received immune system suppressing treatments, followed by stem cell transplants. The results, which were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, reveal notable functional improvements.
After two years, over half of the patients showed better performance on disability tests measuring physical and cognitive ability. Four years after treatment, 80 percent of patients had not experienced relapses. This represents an improvement over disease-modifying therapies, which are performed monthly and only slow the progression of MS.
The transplant procedure cannot treat progressive multiple sclerosis, and it is currently only available in clinical trials or special cases. Still, this treatment could eventually help many victims of MS recover functional abilities.
SSD and multiple sclerosis
Without effective treatment, victims of MS may experience marked restrictions. Those who cannot work may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. A person may receive SSD benefits by meeting the terms of a “Blue Book” listing. Alternately, as a Social Security attorney in Chicago understands, an individual may receive a medical-vocational allowance.
The Social Security Administration’s “Blue Book” lists conditions that are viewed as disabling if they meet certain requirements. The listing for MS requires victims to prove one of the following:
- Motor issues in two extremities, resulting in impaired ability to walk or perform fine tasks
- Severe decreases in visual acuity, efficiency or field, even after best correction
- Mental impairment causing changes in personality, mood, IQ or ability to independently perform daily activities
- Muscle weakness or fatigue due to neurological changes associated with MS
If these criteria aren’t met, the SSA considers how limitations associated with MS impact a person’s ability to work. For instance, dizziness, fatigue, muscle weakness or vision loss may all impact ability to work. If these limitations preclude all work that a person is qualified for, benefits may be awarded.
Proper diagnosis of MS and adequate documentation are essential for people seeking SSD benefits. To prepare a strong claim, applicants may want to consider seeking help from a Social Security attorney in Chicago.