Over the past couple of months, I have taken a number of MS cases to hearings before different judges. So far, we are looking at favorable decisions in all of them. However, the evidence considered by the various judges has been anything but consistent.
I summarized the various case strategies that I use in multiple sclerosis cases on my Georgia Social Security Disability web site so I will not repeat that detailed summary here. A couple of points that do jump out at me:
- because MS is a disease that progresses through a series of flare-ups and remissions, it is not uncommon for my client to experience periods of functioning that could allow for minimally physically demanding work. I get past this issue by eliciting testimony from my client that stress from attempting to work (including preparing for work, traveling to work and performing work) can cause a remission period to shrink, and that my client’s functioning during a remission period is enhanced by staying in a comfortable, familiar home environment
- ideally, an MS case file should contain doctor or ER visits in intervals of 3 months or less. However, if you cannot afford treatment or otherwise do not go to your doctor that often, a personal diary detailing symptoms can serve as viable evidence
- judges recognize that MS is a degenerative condition that does not improve over time. There are a number of neuromuscular diseases related to MS that may comprise your diagnosis. It is important to have your doctor reference that your associated disease falls within the MS family
I also found that in each of the cases I tried, my clients came across as exceedingly credible – people that had long, consistent work histories and who clearly would prefer to land back in the work force. In many ways, your credibility as a claimant serves as the foundation for your case and the combination of believable testimony, a definitive diagnosis with known, serious symptoms and a solid work history makes for a disability case that will likely succeed.