Nervous System Problems


Hi I’m Andrew Kinney, and I’m an attorney at Hoglund Law Offices. I practice exclusively in the area of Social Security disability and SSI law. I help people that can’t work and the problem will last a year or more. I help them get social security benefits to survive.

Today, I wanted to talk about brain and nervous system issues. Specifically MS, Chronic Regional Pain syndrome, Parkinsons, and Alzheimers would be another example. There are chronic conditions involving the brain and nervous system that affect your ability to work. They are serious, and certainly a neurologist is a good person to have a good relationship with. The treatments for this vary; sometimes there is more treatment than others for these conditions. But the main idea is that social security looks at these conditions with a particular eye to the symptoms that you have, not just the diagnosis.

Take MS for example; if someone is diagnosed with MS, Multiple Sclerosis, they might be diagnosed before they are very symptomatic. Usually in my legal experience, the MS is symptomatic enough to prompt an MRI, and the MRI will reveal the white matter lesions that would confirm a diagnosis. But just keep in mind a diagnosis of Parkinsons, MS, or Alzheimers is a start. Work as long as you can, and work with your doctor to understand how long you should work. A question for your doctor is: is working at this point with my diagnosis going to make me worse? There is a point at which you should stop working. That is where you and your doctor can work together about that.

If you have brain and nervous issues, one of the other problems is documentation, sometimes is, if someone has, say memory loss, it is something that is best discussed with your doctor. But you are entitled a hearing to discuss your memory loss. I find very effective, at times psychologists can help measure memory loss, particularly with neuropsychological testing. So talk to your primary care doctor or your neurologist or whatever professional you deal with is: is there specific testing to help me understand how things currently are? You may not wish to know how bad they are, but Social Security is going to require you to objectively measure them and show them before these are allowed to be considered for benefits.

The Chronic Regional Pain syndrome is a separate problem. It is a chronic problem; it is a difficult problem. I have had cases recently with people with this. It also is called Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy. One of the major areas there is that the injury despite all objective signs still causes pain. The same phenomenon occurs if someone has an amputation and they feel pain where the limb was. As an attorney, one of the things that I look for in Complex Regional Pain syndrome or Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy is: what have doctors said and what have the doctors objectively confirmed? Those diagnoses can be confirmed. They may not completely understand the dynamics of it, but the diagnosis has criteria. When Social Security sees that your doctors have verified the criteria supporting the diagnosis, that not only helps you get good treatment, but it helps Social Security know that the problems that you have are serious enough to affect your daily life.

Hopefully discussing these brain and nervous system problems, I’m being general there, hopefully discussing these impairments helps you understand that Social Security is looking for objective evidence of not only the diagnosis but of how you are affected functionally. If you have more questions about applying for benefits or when you should apply for benefits please feel free to visit our website at We also have an 800 number where we are happy to talk with people who are still working but are contemplating not working and applying for benefits or if you are appealing for benefits please feel free to call our offices. We don’t charge unless someone is approved. Our number is 855-780-4357. Thank you.