Jack Osbourne’s recent public acknowledgement that he has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at the age of 26 provides an opportunity to address a few widely-held misconceptions about the disease, to pass along some information that readers in Oregon and elsewhere might find interesting or helpful, and to briefly discuss MS in the context of Social Security Disability programs.
First, it is not unusual for people to experience the onset of MS symptoms in their 20s and 30s. If there is anything unusual about Jack Osbourne’s case, it’s that he received an official diagnosis so soon. For many people, it takes much longer.
Second, while MS can be fatal, new treatments have proven highly effective at slowing the disease’s progression and alleviating symptoms, allowing many people to work and lead full and relatively normal lives for many years after its onset.
Third, the symptoms and progression of MS are not the same for everyone. According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS), the disease typically takes one of the following courses of progression:
- Relapse-remitting MS – RRMS sufferers (85 percent of all cases) experience acute symptom flare-ups from time to time, followed by periods of complete or partial remission.
- Primary-progressive MS – the PPMS form of the disease is seen in about 10 percent of cases and involves a more constant decline of function over time.
- Secondary-progressive MS – SPMS sufferers are often diagnosed with relapse-remitting MS first, but then experience less recovery between symptom flare-ups.
- Progressive-relapsing MS – the PRMS form of the disease is seen in only about 5 percent of cases and is characterized by a general progression of symptoms interspersed with acute episodes, followed by periods of full or partial recovery.
Although multiple sclerosis is included on the Social Security Administration’s list of qualifying physical impairments, approval of MS-related disability claims for SSDI or SSI benefits are not automatic.
Applicants still must convince the SSA that the impairments they have experienced as a result of the disease’s progression are severe enough to prevent them from working. Due to the complicated nature of the SSA’s medical evidence requirements, application forms and procedural rules, however — it is best to work with an experienced disability law firm or attorney.
Source: Forbes, “Jack Osbourne Diagnosed With MS: There’s No Cure But It’s Not A Death Sentence,” Alice G. Walton, June 19, 2012