Almost one million people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with PD, which is an incurable neurological disorder that worsens over time. Those with advanced PD have significant bodily tremors and stiff muscles that severely limit their motor skills. Around four percent of people with PD are diagnosed before they turn 50 years old, but most are older when diagnosed. While early-onset PD can be a devastating diagnosis, some people with PD continue to work full-time for years. When working gets to be too much, it may be time to apply for SSDI.
Social Security Disability
The Social Security Administration (SSA) is responsible for administering SSDI payments and related medical benefits. SSDI only compensates people with total disabilities, so this limits who gets SSDI benefits and many applicants are turned down initially. However, further opportunities to qualify for SSDI payments exist through the appeals process. According to the SSA, PD is listed under the neurological disorders diagnostic group, which also includes cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy, and makes up about 9 percent of all SSDI beneficiaries. People with PD must qualify under this SSA category.
Filing For Benefits
All people filing for SSDI under 65 years old must be totally disabled under the SSA definition, and have been employed and paid into the program for five of the last 10 years to be eligible. Before filing, PD applicants must also qualify under the SSA medical listing for PD, which states that a person must have significant rigidity, bradykinesia and tremors in two extremities that disturb gross and dexterous movements or gait and station. As soon as PD renders people unable to work for one year or more, they should file for SSDI benefits, as the approval process can take months, especially when appeals are involved.
Help Is Available
One SSA study from 2010 reported that most PD applicants are initially denied SSDI benefits, but around 78 percent are approved at the hearing level. This process can take a PD applicant an average of 500 days longer to receive SSDI payments. People with PD and their families should understand the SSDI process and be prepared to get legal help after the initial denial to improve the chances of approval after appealing the decision.
It is difficult enough to overcome the daily challenges of PD, especially with reduced income and increased medical expenses, so get the help you need to gain approval during the SSDI process. If you or your loved one has PD and is unable to continue working, contact a Social Security attorney in your area for advice about your legal rights and options during the SSDI application process.