senior womanClaiming SSD for Parkinson’s with a Social Security attorney

Parkinson’s disease develops when neurons in the brain die or become damaged, resulting in the disruption of nerve signals. Tremors, stiffness and issues with balance or movement often characterize this disease. Parkinson’s is progressive, so these symptoms usually worsen over time. As an Illinois Social Security attorney can attest, victims may eventually have difficulty walking, talking or completing everyday tasks.

Social Security Disability benefits may be available to help people afflicted with Parkinson’s disease. The Social Security Administration includes Parkinson’s in its “Blue Book” of disabling conditions. Victims may also qualify for SSD benefits by receiving medical-vocational allowances.

Meeting medical criteria

The SSA automatically considers Parkinson’s disabling if it fulfills criteria listed in the Blue Book. The disease must cause severe rigidity, tremors in two extremities or slowness of movement. These effects must limit the victim’s ability to perform fine motor tasks, control limbs or walk at a reasonable pace.

As a Social Security attorney can explain, people who do not meet these requirements may qualify for medical-vocational allowances. When awarding an allowance, the SSA evaluates how Parkinson’s affects the applicant’s ability to work. First, the SSA uses the following evidence to assess the symptoms and functional limitations associated with the disease:

  • Medical records
  • Statements from treating physicians
  • Symptoms or limitations the applicant reports
  • Findings from consultative examinations
  • Statements from family, friends or other non-medical sources

With this information, the SSA determines the applicant’s residual functional capacity. RFC describes the level of work the applicant can engage in despite suffering from Parkinson’s. Using RFC, age, education and work history, the SSA decides whether there is any work the applicant can reasonably perform.  If not, the applicant may qualify for benefits.

Other eligibility requirements

As any Social Security attorney knows, people seeking SSD benefits for Parkinson’s must also meet non-medical requirements. First, an applicant cannot engage in substantial gainful activity, or work with income exceeding $1,090 per month. Second, the applicant must qualify as “insured” under the Social Security Disability Insurance program. Workers are only insured if they have earned enough total and recent credits.

A worker earns one credit each quarter that his or her income reaches a set level. In 2015, $1,220 of income is worth one credit. Workers can earn four credits per year. The number of total credits and recent credits that an applicant needs varies based on age. The number of recent working years counted also depends on the individual’s age.

Unfortunately, if these criteria aren’t met, people who suffer from Parkinson’s cannot collect SSD benefits. The prognosis or severity of the disease is irrelevant, since the SSA considers these financial criteria before evaluating medical evidence.