What to Know About MG and Social Security Disability
Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: May 2021
There is no question that myasthenia gravis (MG) can be debilitating. The muscle weakness, vision problems, and fatigue common to MG can cause both physical and emotional issues. Plus, a lack of good quality sleep can impact productivity at school or work.1,2
MG may also keep you from being able to complete daily activities and your job duties. When this happens, you may find yourself needing to apply for disability benefits. The federal Social Security and Supplemental Security Income disability programs are available to those with disabilities.1
In order to prove your disability, you will have to go through a process and apply. Here are the ins and outs of myasthenia gravis when it gets to the point of disability.
Determining your rights
Unfortunately, both the legal and medical systems can be complicated. The important thing to know is that applying for disability benefits is a process. The legal and medical systems have to define your condition as disabling in order for you to get the benefits owed you.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) publishes the Blue Book, which lists conditions you need to meet to receive disability benefits under Section 11.12. For MG, you will need to have:3
- Significant problems swallowing, breathing, or speaking even if following all recommended medical care
- Significant muscle weakness and problems with the arms or legs even if following all recommended medical care
Types of benefits
You may qualify for short-term disability through your job if you are still working. Long-term disability benefits are offered through the federal government. These are administered through the SSA.
There are 2 different disability insurances administered through Social Security:4
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) pays benefits if you have worked long enough and have paid Social Security taxes
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI) pays benefits based on your financial need
Applying for disability
In order to qualify, you need to have worked a certain amount of time under Social Security to qualify for disability benefits. The work credits are based on your yearly wages or self-employment income.
After you apply, the SSA will want to get your medical records from your doctor. An SSA doctor will review your records and decide what limitations MG has on your daily life and your ability to work. More doctors may need to be consulted.
This process can take some time. You may or may not be approved during the first review of your medical records.
Determining the severity of MG
The doctor who reviews your medical records will be looking for certain things to decide your eligibility for disability benefits. These include:1,5
- A documented diagnosis from your doctor
- Detail of how long your symptoms have lasted and how severe your symptoms are
- Documented symptoms even after following a MG treatment plan
- Details of how your MG gets in the way of daily living
It is important that you can document the severity of impact on your daily living. Things that are taken into consideration deciding whether you are disabled include:5
- You cannot do the work you did before
- You cannot accommodate or do other work because of your condition
- Your condition is estimated to last at least 1 year or result in death
Getting the help you need to apply
You may need help applying for disability benefits. It is important that your application is complete and has the required documents. Make sure you talk to your doctor about your desire for disability benefits. Your doctor or a social worker on their staff can help you fill out the application. You may also want to look into hiring an attorney if your application is denied. Disability attorneys usually only get paid if you win the case.1,5