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Applying for SSD with Parkinson's Disease

April is Parkinson's Awareness Month, and the Parkinson's Disease Foundation and other organizations have numerous ways for individuals to help raise awareness of Parkinson's. It seems an appropriate time to discuss issues that people with Parkinson's disease (PD) face as they apply for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits.

Parkinson's is a progressive neurological disease that leaves its victims with tremors, balance problems, rigidity and slowness. The Social Security administration lists Parkinson's as an impairment for which the affected person can receive disability benefits when working becomes impossible. Although PD is a listed impairment, applicants for SSD must document how their PD prevents them from working when they apply. It is not enough to be diagnosed with Parkinson's; you must prove that it has disabled you.

Here are some of the things you must tell the SSA when you apply for disability benefits:

•· How the rigidity, tremor and bradykinesia of Parkinson's affects your ability to move

•· The number of extremities affected by Parkinson's

•· The work-related physical tasks that are difficult or impossible because of Parkinson's

•· The mental tasks that are difficult or impossible because of Parkinson's

You might discuss your short-term memory loss, falls because your balance is affected, lack of ability to control the movement of your extremities, inability to stand for any length of time and any other symptoms that affect your ability to work. You should also report when the symptoms first began to cause you concern about your ability to work, not when you were actually diagnosed with Parkinson's.

In addition, you will need to describe measures that you took while working to try to cope with your increasing symptoms. Did you have to miss work frequently for medical appointments or to adjust to new medications? How did your medications affect you? Are you afraid to perform some of your work duties because you fear you will fall or be unable to talk? Did you reduce your hours or even try to do another type of work?

Because of the importance of detailing precisely how Parkinson's affects your ability to work, it is important to complete your application for SSD benefits as thoroughly as possible. Having the assistance of a disability specialist from a firm such as Binder & Binder®, The National Social Security Disability Advocates, can be a huge help.

Source: Northwestern University, "A Parkinson's disease specific guide to Federal Social Security Disability (SSD) Application."

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