A diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease can be devastating. There is currently no cure for this progressive neurodegenerative disorder, and you are right to have concerns about your future. Along with approximately 1 million others across the country who have received this life-changing diagnosis, you are likely examining your options and wondering about the resources available to you in Minnesota.
One important resource you will want to explore is Social Security Disability Insurance. If you have worked long enough to pay into the Social Security Administration, you may be eligible to receive benefits for Parkinson’s disease. However, it is not as simple as receiving a diagnosis. You will also have to prove that your condition will make it impossible for you to hold gainful employment for at least one year.
When is Parkinson’s a disability?
If your Parkinson’s diagnosis is recent, you may only be experiencing the early symptoms, such as a slow tremor on one or more extremities or rigidity in your muscles. While these symptoms may be upsetting, they may not prevent you from continuing with your normal activities, including going to work. In fact, even if you have an official diagnosis of Parkinson’s, it is possible you will not automatically qualify for SSDI even though it is included on the list of approved conditions.
However, you can still begin preparing for the time when you are ready to apply for disability benefits. This includes keeping a careful log of your symptoms, their progression and how they interfere with your daily routine, such as:
- Your ability to stand up, walk or remain balanced while standing
- The motor function in your arms and hands
- Your cognitive abilities, such as remembering, understanding or following through on instructions
- Concentration on tasks or the ability to complete them in a timely manner
- Communication and interaction with your co-workers or family members
When the time comes to apply for benefits, you will need to supply substantial evidence to support your claim that your Parkinson’s symptoms prevent you from maintaining gainful employment. This will include statements about how the disease affects your daily life from your doctors, medical records, testimony from your family, your personal statement, and accounts from your employer and co-workers.
The SSDI process can be complex
Remember that the time between requesting benefits and receiving your first pay can be quite long, so you will not want to delay in applying. You may even qualify for retroactive pay, but waiting too long to apply may damage your claim. Many first-time claims do not receive approval, which means going through the long appeals process. Having applicable legal information is one way to improve your chances of a successful claim for disability benefits.