How to Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits with Myasthenia Gravis

This article was written by Deanna Power, Director of Outreach at Disability Benefits Help  (www.disabilitybenefitscenter.org) DBH is an independent organization dedicated to helping people of all ages receive the disability benefits they need, or remain eligible for Social Security after approval. We have thousands of resources on how to qualify with various conditions, the application process, what to after a denial, and more. Deanna began working with people with disabilities throughout college by volunteering with Best Buddies, and now specializes in helping Social Security applicants determine if they’re medically eligible for benefits. She can be reached at drp@ssd-help.org, or the entire team can be found at help@ssd-help.org. All of their resources or assistance are always free, so don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions on qualifying.

Myasthenia gravis (MG) can be a devastating disorder. Because the majority of people with MG are affected during adulthood, it can be especially debilitating to learn how to cope with the disorder’s medical and financial repercussions.

However, if your severe myasthenia gravis prevents you from working and earning a gainful income, you may qualify for monthly financial support via Social Security disability benefits. Continue below to learn how to medically qualify, how to determine which disability program is best for you, and how you can begin your application today.

Medical Qualifications

The Social Security Administration (SSA) evaluates applicants using the “Blue Book.” This medical guide is a collection of all severe conditions that could qualify for disability insurance. By looking at the Blue Book online, you can examine your disorder and determine whether or not your symptoms are severe enough to qualify.

Myasthenia gravis is listed in the Blue Book under Section 11.12 for Neurological Disorders. Here, it states that those with the condition can qualify in three ways:

 Exhibiting a disorganization of motor function (being unable to control movement) of two or more extremities (arms and legs), resulting in extreme limitation to stand, sit, balance, walk, or perform dexterous movements like typing or writing.

OR

 Bulbar and neuromuscular dysfunction (trouble with eating, drinking, swallowing, or breathing) that has resulted in needing:
a) mechanical ventilation (use of a machine to help you breathe), or
b) supplemental nutrition through a gastronomy or catheter.

OR

Moderate trouble with physical functioning as well as with one or more of the following:
1) Understanding, remembering, or applying information,
2) Interacting with others,
3) Concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace, or
4) Adapting or managing oneself.

It may be difficult to tell whether or not your myasthenia gravis qualifies under these conditions. Before applying, it is always best to be safe and speak with your physician to compare your symptoms to those listed above. The following tests and information will be the most helpful for you to receive from your physician and include on your disability application:

  • Complete medical history from the start of your disorder
  • Hospitalization history
  • Medication lists (especially those that haven’t worked)
  • Neurological tests that measure reflexes, muscle strength, coordination, and balance
  • Endrophonium tests (measures the ability of weakened muscles to improve with temporary injection)
  • Blood and antibody tests
  • EMG (electromyography) tests
  • MRIs and CT scans

SSDI vs. SSI

The US government has two different programs dedicated to helping those with disabilities get financial and medical benefits. Depending on your history, you may qualify for one (or both) of the following programs:

SSDI

Social Security Disability Insurance is for people with a history of working and earning taxable income. Because the majority of people get MG diagnoses as adults, this is the most common disability program to qualify for. Here, the applicant only receives benefits if they have contributed enough taxes to the government during their working years. The older you are, the more taxes are required of you to contribute. For the most part, so long as you earned just $5,000 of taxable income per year, you will qualify for SSDI[NL1] . To determine exactly how many years you need to have worked, you can view a Work Credits chart on the SSA’s website[DP2] .

As far as assistance goes, SSDI recipients get the same benefits as those who are receiving Social Security retirement. Medicare is awarded in full 24 months after your MG prevented you from working, while[NL3] [NL4] [DP5]  your monthly benefit amount is based on how much money you have contributed in taxes throughout adulthood. Higher earners will receive higher payments.

SSI

Supplemental Security Income is for those who have low income and do not have a history of working. Credits are not required to qualify here — instead, all Social Security needs is proof that the applicant is not engaging in “Substantial Gainful Activity” (earning enough money to support themselves each month), and has limited accessibility to resources. This means that if you haven’t worked throughout life but are married to someone learning a living wage, you will not qualify for SSI regardless of the severity of your MG.

To qualify for SSI, your spouse cannot earn more than $1,103 per month.

Alternate: If your spouse is currently working, his or her income will be counted against your SSI resource limit.

Starting the Application

When all of your paperwork has been assembled and you are ready to go, you can start the Social Security disability application anytime. Applications for SSDI can be found on the SSA’s main website, while SSI applications must be filled out in person at your nearest Social Security office.

If you need help filling out your application, you can ask for help from a family member or call your local SSA office to have a worker fill it out with you. If you have questions or concerns about the application, you can make an appointment at your local office at any time.

(Disclaimer: The information in this article is the here guidance. Please check with the appropriate official websites or agencies if you have questions.)

 

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