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National Multiple Sclerosis Education and Awareness Month

As one of the most common neurological conditions affecting young adults in California and throughout the country, it is important that we take note of National Multiple Sclerosis Education and Awareness Month (NMSEAM). Because young people are disproportionately afflicted with this ailment, multiple sclerosis poses some unique challenges for people who are unable to work because of MS.

Approximately 45 percent of people with MS suffer from a mild form of the disease, and remain able to work. However, because symptoms vary so greatly from person to person, there is really no indicating whether someone with MS will or will not be able to maintain employment. MS falls under Medical Listing 11.09 in the Social Security Administration's Listing of Impairments, but whether a person will qualify for SSD benefits based on their ailment depends largely on its severity.

Certain symptoms of MS definitely make working more difficult, if not impossible. These are fatigue and weakness; issues with vision, balance or coordination; difficulty remembering or paying attention; and depression or mood swings. According to the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation, about 15 percent of people diagnosed with MS will be severely disabled to the point where work may no longer be an option.

MS is most commonly diagnosed during the prime working years of ages 20 to 40. In general, younger people face more challenges in obtaining Social Security Disability benefits because of a widespread assumption that they should be able to work, or that they can simply work in a different field if their ailment makes their current job impossible. For many, that is simply not the case.

Source: Houston Chronicle, "March is National MS Education and Awareness Month," Feb. 28, 2012

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