Multiple Sclerosis is an autoimmune disease where the individual’s autoimmune system attacks healthy tissue in the brain and spinal cord, damaging nerve fibers. Typical symptoms include muscle spasms pain and tingling, numbness, cognitive impairment, vision problems and difficulties with balance and walking.
An estimated 400,000 Americans have this disease. The New York Times recently highlighted several New Yorkers living with Multiple Sclerosis and reported the toll the disease has on their lives in Multiple Sclerosis Takes Toll on Body and Soul.
The story of Denise Muller in particular peaked my interest because it is so similar to the experience of our clients struggling to have their disability claims paid. A significant percentage of the cases we handle at Bonny G. Rafel LLC involve autoimmune disorders, including Multiple Sclerosis.
Denise Muller explains that she worked in banking until she experienced symptoms of vertigo which required hospitalization. She returned to work and was laid off due to a “reduction in force” which she attributes to her illness. At the time, her doctors did not realize that her symptoms were related to MS. Symptoms of pain materialized and interfered with her function, and she eventually was properly diagnosed by a neurologist. Her descent into illness was gradual, and during the process, her financial security was shunted off. The article reports that she fought three years for Long Term Disability. It is not uncommon to have a struggle with insurance companies to establish that you qualify for Long Term Disability. Our firm steps in early, to assist with the collection, development and submission of evidence sufficient to prove the disabling features of MS. There can be many differential diagnoses other than MS at first, if the diagnostic testing, (MRI, Spinal Tap) is negative. However, these tests do not exclude the disease if the lesions do not show up. Read more about Denise at the National MS Society website.
Unfortunately, many insurers do not appreciate the impact this disease brings to the individual, how the muscle spams, nerve pain, the fatigue, progressively interferes with their daily function and eventually their ability to perform their occupation. Of particular interest to us is the impact that this disease has on executive functioning skills and how to prove the effect that cognitive changes have both in and out of the work setting. Realize that there may be a ‘tipping point’ when the disease progressively impacts your ability to work, leading to poor performance evaluations and the potential of discharge before you have the chance to file for disability. We advise our clients to “stay as long as you can function, but not beyond your ability to perform the essential duties of your occupation. ”
We are here to help. At Bonny G. Rafel, LLC we advocate for patients with disabling conditions. Contact us for a consultation if Multiple Sclerosis or any other problem, has inhibited your ability to work. We may be able to assist you in getting the benefits you deserve.