April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month, so let’s take some time to discuss Parkinson’s disease (PD). With over 200,000 new cases diagnosed each year, it’s important to know what Parkinson’s disease is, how it can be treated, and the disability benefits available to those who are unable to work due to the symptoms of their PD.
What is Parkinson’s disease?
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive nervous disorder caused by nerve cell damage in the brain. This damage causes dopamine levels to drop, resulting in the onset of the symptoms of PD. These symptoms can include:
- Slowed movement
- Stiffness in the limbs
- Difficulty maintaining balance
- Difficulty walking
The symptoms of PD develop gradually over years. The exact cause of the nerve damage that leads to PD is unknown. There are currently no treatments for PD, though there are for the symptoms of PD. While the disease is not fatal, the complications arising from PD can be — according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), complications from PD are the 14th leading cause of death in the United States.
Disability Benefits for Parkinson’s disease
An individual diagnosed with PD may qualify for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration, Veterans Affairs, or a group LTD insurance policy. However, simply being diagnosed with PD isn’t enough to qualify for disability benefits. The person with PD must be able to provide medical evidence that the symptoms of their PD are so severe that they are unable to perform work of any kind.
SSA Claims for PD
The SSA’s Blue Book of recognized disorders includes a listing for Parkinson’s disease in Section 11.06 under “Neurological Disorders.” In order to qualify for Social Security disability benefits, the applicant will have to submit medical evidence that shows:
Disorganization of motor function in two extremities, resulting in an extreme limitation in the ability to stand up from a seated position, balance while standing or walking, or use the upper extremities; and
Marked limitation in one of the following:
- Understanding, remembering, or applying information; or
- Interacting with others; or
- Concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace; or
- Adapting or managing oneself.
These symptoms must have occurred for at least three consecutive months, despite adherence to prescribed treatment.
If an applicant doesn’t meet all the qualifications under Section 11.06, their other symptoms may qualify them under a different disorder, such as a musculoskeletal disorder.
LTD Insurance Claims for PD
In order to qualify for LTD benefits through an individual or group employee plan, an individual must be able to show that the symptoms of their PD prevent them from performing the duties of their job. Since qualification requirements vary from plan to plan, policyholders need to consult their Summary Plan Description (SPD) to determine how they go about filing a claim.
VA Claims for PD
VA disability claims are difficult to pursue because the veteran must be able to demonstrate that their PD is service-related. However, they may be able to qualify for benefits if they can show that a service-related traumatic brain injury or exposure to toxic substances combusted in an open burn pit was responsible for their nerve damage. Certain Korean and Vietnam veterans may also qualify for benefits if they can show their nerve damage resulted from exposure to herbicidal agents such as Agent Orange.
If Your Claim for Disability Benefits Has Been Denied, We Can Help
The Law Offices Of M. Stanley Whitehead have helped persons all over the U.S. get the benefits they need after the symptoms of PD or another serious medical condition prevents them from working. We can even help you file an appeal if your claim for disability benefits was turned down.
Don’t miss out on the benefits you deserve. Contact the Law Offices Of M. Stanley Whitehead to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation with an experienced Houston disability benefits attorney to discuss your claim.