Life Planning and Independence
Social Security Disability
If you have multiple sclerosis (MS) and are unable to work due to an MS-related disability and/or other conditions, you might be entitled to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society developed a new Social Security Disability Guidebook to assist in deciding whether applying for disability benefits is right for you and in navigating the complex application process. Find the link to the right to get started.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes MS as a chronic illness or “impairment” that can cause disability severe enough to prevent an individual from working. If you have any of the following symptoms, or any combination of these or other symptoms, that prevent you from working, you might qualify for Social Security benefits:
- Difficulty with walking and other motor skills
- Difficulty seeing
- Difficulty concentrating or completing simple tasks
- Difficulty remembering
- Extreme fatigue, regardless of sleep
- Speech impairment
- Side effects of medication(s)
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a federal insurance program run by SSA. It is called an insurance program, because you pay into the system through taxes withheld from your paycheck. SSDI provides cash benefits to replace some of the income you can no longer earn due to disability. You must have sufficient work history and meet disability criteria to be entitled to benefits.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a different program that provides cash benefits to assist people who do not have a work history that would qualify them for SSDI and who have very little or no income and resources.
While SSI and SSDI provide different benefits, SSA uses the same disability determination process for both. You can even qualify for both at the same time. This new Guidebook focuses primarily on the SSDI application process but includes helpful information for both programs. If you need additional information or help as you read through the Guidebook, contact your Chapter of the National MS Society, call SSA at 1-800-772-1213, or visit www.socialsecurity.gov/disability
For more information and referral to a representative, contact one of these organizations:
Government Entitlement Services
National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives (NOSSCR)