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Does Muscular Dystrophy Qualify for SS Disability Benefits?

The Social Security Administration recognizes muscular dystrophy as an impairment in its Blue Book under Section 11. You must meet both the work and medical requirements.


You may be wondering if you could get on Social Security disability if you are suffering from Muscular Dystrophy.

The Social Security Administration recognizes muscular dystrophy as an impairment in its Blue Book under Section 11. You must qualify however for both the SSA’s work requirements and it’s medical requirements.

Muscular Dystrophy Disability

The Social Security Administration recognizes muscular dystrophy as an impairment in its Blue Book under Section 11. Call 512-454-4000 for help today.

Muscular dystrophy is a group of diseases characterized by muscle weakness and a wasting away of muscle, with or without a breakdown of nerve tissue.

Muscular dystrophy usually begins in childhood, but the disease can strike people of all ages and races and both sexes. Families with a history of muscular dystrophy are at a greater risk of developing the disease. Because muscular dystrophy is relatively rare and different forms of the disease affect different age groups, it is difficult to know how many people are afflicted with muscular dystrophy. According to Science Daily, in 2015, 1 in 5,000 boys between the ages of 5 and 9 were affected by muscular dystrophy.

The first sign of muscular dystrophy is a gradual weakening of the muscles, usually in the upper arms and legs.

Gradually the muscles of other parts of the body are affected such as the throat, spine, diaphragm, heart and chest muscles.

Early symptoms and signs include:

  •    difficulty getting up after sitting or lying down
  •   frequent falls
  •   walking on toes
  •   tripping
  •   large calf muscles
  •   muscle pain and stiffness
  •   difficulty running and jumping
  •   waddling gait
  •   learning disabilities

As the disease progresses, complications such as difficulty swallowing, difficulty walking and scoliosis (curvature of the spine) may develop.

The disease can also affect the heart muscles and diaphragm resulting in cardiac and respiratory problems.

Of the nine types of muscular dystrophy, the most common are Duchene Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) and Becker Muscular Dystrophy (BMD).

Duchene Muscular Dystrophy affects mostly boys aged 2 through 6, though girls can be carriers.

Symptoms include general muscle wasting and eventually all voluntary muscles are affected. Survival is rare beyond the 20s.

Contact a Social Security disability attorney at 512-454-4000 for a free consultation and see if you can get disability benefits while suffering from Muscular Dystrophy. If you have been denied disability don’t give up!

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Becker Muscular Dystrophy usually begins in early teens but may occur in the mid-20s or later.

Symptoms are similar to that of DMD, but they are milder and progression is slower.

Other types of Muscular Dystrophy include:

  •   Congenital – Symptoms are present at birth and include general muscle weakness and possible joint deformities.
  •   Distal – Occurs in people 40 – 60 years of age and rarely leads to incapacity. The muscles of the hands, forearms and lower legs are affected.
  •   Emery-Dreifuss – Occurs in childhood to teenage years. Affects the shoulder, upper arm and shin muscles.
  •   Limb-Girdle. Occurs late childhood to middle age. Affects shoulder and pelvic areas of the body.
  •    Myotonic – Affects people 20-40 years of age and progresses slowly. There is a weakness of all muscle groups and progression is slow, sometimes spanning 50-60 years.
  •   Facioscapulohumeral – Usually begins in childhood, but can occur as late as age 40, causing muscle weakness in the face and shoulders.
  •   Oculopharyngeal – Occurs in people age 40 – 70 and causes muscle weakness in the eyelids and throat resulting in difficulty swallowing.

There is no current cure for muscular dystrophy, but certain medications and therapies can slow its progression and make symptoms more manageable.

Treatment often focuses on five main practices:

  •    Physiotherapy to improve flexibility and mobility;
  •   Medications to treat symptoms and well as slow muscle wasting and increase muscle strength;
  •   Mobility assistance, such as electric wheelchairs, braces, and walking aids;
  •   Counseling and emotional support; and
  •   Physical therapy and occupational therapy to improve strength, flexibility and mobility.

The Social Security Administration recognizes muscular dystrophy as an impairment in its Blue Book under Section 11:

11.13 Muscular dystrophy, characterized by A or B:

A. Disorganization of motor function in two extremities (see 11.00D1), resulting in an extreme limitation (see 11.00D2) in the ability to stand up from a seated position, balance while standing or walking, or use the upper extremities.
B. Marked limitation (see 11.00G2) in physical functioning (see 11.00G3a), and in one of the following:

  •   Understanding, remembering, or applying information (see 11.00G3b(i)); or
  •   Interacting with others (see 11.00G3b(ii)); or
  •    Concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace (see 11.00G3b(iii)); or
  •   Adapting or managing oneself (see 11.00G3b(iv)).

In order to qualify for Social Security Disability, you will need to satisfy a few specific requirements in two categories as determined by the Social Security Administration.

The first category is the Work Requirements which has two tests.

  1.   The Duration of Work test.   Whether you have worked long enough to be covered under SSDI.
  2.   The Current Work Test.   Whether you worked recently enough for the work to actually count toward coverage.

The second category is the Medical Eligibility Requirement.

  1.   Are you working?   Your disability must be “total”.
  2.   Is your medical condition severe?    Your disability must be “severe” enough to interfere with your ability to perform basic work-related activities, such as walking, sitting, and remembering.
  3.   Is your medical condition on the List of Impairments?   The SSA has a “List of Impairments” that automatically qualify as “severe” disabilities. If your disease is not listed this does not mean you cannot get disability, it means you must prove you cannot maintain employment due to your limitations.
  4.   Can you do the work you did before?   SSDI rules look at whether your medical condition prevents you from doing the work you did prior to developing the condition.
  5.   Can you do any other type of work?   If you cannot do your prior work, an evaluation is made as to whether you can perform any other kind of work.

More details can be found on our Qualifying for Disability page.

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Disability benefits are an important source of income for those who are unable to work. If you have muscular dystrophy and it has impacted your ability to work, you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits or Long Term Disability benefits. If you have applied for benefits and been denied, contact the attorneys at Bemis, Roach and Reed for a free consultation. Call 512-454-4000 and get help NOW.

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