Individuals with Parkinson 's disease severe enough to prevent them from working are able to collect vital benefits through Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI. If the individual is a veteran, disability benefits through the VA may also be available.
What is Parkinson's Disease?
Parkinson's disease is a degenerative brain disorder that affects a patient's movement in the extremities and face. Common symptoms include tremors and shaking, stiffness in the limbs, slow movement and loss of coordination or balance. These symptoms can affect one's ability to work and may make working impossible altogether.
SSDI Benefits for Parkinson's Disease Sufferers
Fortunately, the Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes Parkinson's disease as a condition eligible for SSDI. Though the disease typically affects those over 50, sometimes younger individuals are affected. SSDI benefits are available to those under the full retirement age (65-67).
To be eligible for SSDI benefits, workers must be under 65 and have paid into the Social Security system for at least ten years. Parkinson's disease is on the SSA's list of eligible conditions under "neurological conditions" and individuals applying for SSDI should be able to present systems like significant rigidity of limbs, bradykinesia and tremors in two or more extremities.
If someone applies for SSDI benefits due to Parkinson's disease but is initially denied benefits, he or she should appeal the decision as soon as possible, since claims for Parkinson's disease are often denied at first, then awarded during an appeals hearing.
Filing for SSDI benefits as soon as possible will help individuals avoid going without a paycheck when their Parkinson's disease symptoms become too severe.
Veterans Benefits Also Available
For those that were in the service during the Vietnam War, veterans' disability benefits may also be available. Recently the Veterans Administration has acknowledged that there is a connection between Agent Orange and Parkinson's disease. Veterans who were in the Republic of Vietnam, parts of Thailand, parts of the Korean DMZ, and certain U.S. bases do not need to prove they were exposed to Agent Orange to be eligible for benefits. Veterans with Parkinson's disease are able to use the VA's Fast Track Claims Processing System to apply for benefits.
Those with Parkinson's disease who are worried that their symptoms may prevent them from permanently working should consult with a disability lawyer to help them understand the benefits that are available to them and assist in navigating the complex application process.