April is Parkinson's Awareness Month. According to the National Parkinson's Foundation, the illness is a progressive movement disorder, with neurological symptoms that become worse over time. There are nearly one million people living with Parkinson's in the United States today. The exact cause of the illness is not known, and it cannot be cured. It can, however be treated to reduce the impact of the symptoms.
The most obvious indicator of Parkinson's Disease (PD) is uncontrolled body movement. This usually takes the form of one or more symptoms:
- Tremor of the extremities and face
- Stiffness of the limbs, known as bradykinesia
- Stiffness and rigidity of the limbs and trunk
- Balance and coordination problems
Although these are the most obvious symptoms, advanced PD patients can have a variety of mental and emotional conditions, digestive problems, low blood pressure, sweating, sleep problems, sensory losses that include vision and smell, and other non-motor symptoms.
Research into the cause of PD is ongoing. But for now, treatment can only delay or moderate symptoms because the precise disease mechanism is unknown.
Although PD is often an illness of older people, many individuals under retirement age also suffer from Parkinson's. Some of these people are able to continue working for years. Others, however, are unable to work long before they are eligible for their pension or Social Security benefits. Each situation is different, and it depends in part on the nature of the job. People whose work requires them to be active, climbing ladders or lifting heavy items may find that they can no longer work before someone with the same stage of disease with a sedentary job..
People with PD who are unable to work are eligible to apply for Social Security Disability Benefits (SSD). In describing eligibility for benefits with PD, the Social Security Administration (SSA) states: "Parkinsonian syndrome with the following signs: Significant rigidity, bradykinesia, or tremor in two extremities, which, singly or in combination, result in sustained disturbance of gross and dexterous movements, or gait and station." It is important that the precise symptoms - the kinds of things that prevent someone from working - are well documented in medical records and claims for benefits.
If you have Parkinson's Disease and are seeking SSD benefits because you can no longer work, get help now. Do what so many others have done: Contact Binder & Binder® America's most successful Social Security Disability advocates. Call them to learn what they can do to get you the benefits you need.
Source: National Parkinson Foundation, "Social Security Basics," n.d.