U.S. Social Security Administration's Criteria for Qualifying as Disabled from MS
Impairments listed by the SSA for disability evaluation are considered severe enough to prevent a person from doing any gainful activity, and are permanent and expected to result in death. Otherwise, evidence must show that the impairment has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months. Only the paragraphs that apply to MS are reproduced here.
C. Persistent disorganization of motor function in the form of paresis or paralysis, tremor or other involuntary movements, ataxia and sensory disturbances (any or all of which may be due to cerebral, cerebellar, brainstem, spinal cord, or peripheral nerve dysfunction) which occur singly or in various combinations, frequently provides the sole or partial basis for decision in cases of neurological impairment. The assessment of impairment depends on the degree of interference with locomotion and/or interference with the use of fingers, hands and arms.
E. Multiple Sclerosis. The major criteria for evaluating impairment caused by multiple sclerosis are discussed in Listing 11.09. Paragraph A provides criteria for evaluating disorganization of motor function and gives reference to 11.04B (11.04B then refers to 11.00C). Paragraph B provides references to other listings for evaluating visual or mental impairments caused by multiple sclerosis. Paragraph C provides criteria for evaluating the impairment of individuals who do not have muscle weakness or other significant disorganization of motor function at rest, but who do develop muscle weakness on activity as a result of fatigue.
Use of the criteria in 11.09C is dependent upon (1) documenting a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, (2) obtaining a description of fatigue considered to be characteristic of multiple sclerosis, and (3) obtaining evidence that the system has actually become fatigued. The evaluation of the magnitude of the impairment must consider the degree of exercise and the severity of the resulting muscle weakness.
The criteria in 11.09C deal with motor abnormalities which occur on activity. If the disorganization of motor function is present at rest, paragraph A must be used, taking into account any further increase in muscle weakness resulting from activity.
Sensory abnormalities may occur, particularly involving central visual acuity. The decrease in visual acuity may occur after brief attempts at activity involving near vision, such as reading. This decrease in visual acuity may not persist when the specific activity is terminated, as with rest, but is predictably reproduced with resumption of the activity. The impairment of central visual acuity in these cases should be evaluated under the criteria in Listing 2.02, taking into account the fact that the decrease in visual acuity will wax and wane.
Clarification of the evidence regarding central nervous system dysfunction responsible for the symptoms may require supporting technical evidence of function impairment such as evoked response tests during exercise.
11.01 Category of Impairment, Neurological
11.04 Central nervous system vascular accident. With one of the following more than 3 months post-vascular accident:
B. Significant and persistent disorganization of motor function in two extremities, resulting in sustained disturbance of gross and dexterous movements, or gait and station (see 11.00C).
11.09 Multiple Sclerosis. With:
A. Disorganization of motor function as described in 11.04B; or
B. Visual or mental impairment as described under the criteria in 2.02, 2.03, 2.04, or 12.02; or
C. Significant, reproducible fatigue of motor function with substantial muscle weakness on repetitive activity, demonstrated on physical examination, resulting from neurological dysfunction in areas or the central nervous system known to be pathologically involved by the multiple sclerosis process.
1.01 Category of Impairments, Special Senses and Speech
1.02 Impairment of Central Visual Acuity. Remaining vision in the better eye after best correction is 20/200 or less.
2.03 Contraction of Peripheral Visual Fields in the Better Eye.
A. To 10 degree or less from the point of fixation; or
B. So the widest diameter subtends an angle no greater than 20 degrees; or
C. To 20 percent or less visual field efficiency.
2.04 Loss of Visual Efficiency. Visual efficiency of better eye after best correction 20 percent or less. (The percent of remaining visual efficiency equals the product of the percent of remaining central visual efficiency and the percent of remaining visual field efficiency.)
12.02 Organic Mental Disorders: Psychological and behavioral abnormalities associated with a dysfunction of the brain. History and physical examination or laboratory tests demonstrate the presence of a specific organic factor judged to be etiologically related to the abnormal mental state and loss of previously acquired functional abilities.
The required level of severity for these disorders is met when the requirements in both A and B are satisfied.
A. Demonstration of a loss of specific cognitive abilities or affective changes and the medically documented persistence of at least one of the following:
1. Disorientation to time and place; or
2. Memory impairment, either short-term (inability to learn new information), intermediate, or long term (inability to remember information that was known sometime in the past); or
3. Perceptual or thinking disturbances (e.g., hallucinations, delusions); or
4. Change in personality; or
5. Disturbance in mood; or
6. Emotional liability (e.g., explosive tempter outbursts, sudden crying, etc.) and impairment in impulse control; or
7. Loss of measured intellectual ability of at least 15 I.Q. points from premorbid levels or overall impairment index clearly within the severely impaired range on neuropsychological testing, e.g., the Luria-Nebraska, Halstead-Reitan, etc; AND
B. Resulting in at least two of the following:
1. Marked restriction of activities of daily living; or
2. Marked difficulties in maintaining social functioning; or
3. Deficiencies of concentration, persistence or pace resulting in frequent failure to complete tasks in a timely manner (in work settings or elsewhere); or