Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder that causes rigidity and tremors in the muscles.  Parkinson’s can affect both gross movements such as walking and fine motor functions such typing.  This condition usually comes on gradually, and often Parkinson’s sufferers do not even go to the doctor to get diagnosed until symptoms are severe.  Because this condition gradually progresses over time, people with Parkinson’s often have questions about when is the right time to apply for disability benefits.  The good news is that it has become increasingly difficult over the years for people with Parkinson’s to get approved for disability benefits due to the success of the new medications for this condition.  If you are successfully working, then it is not yet time to apply for disability benefits.  If your symptoms are causing you to make mistakes or work more slowly than what is acceptable at your job, then it is time to start thinking about applying for benefits.

Be sure that you are regularly seeing a neurologist, even if have already been diagnosed and are taking medications through your primary care physician.  It is the opinion of a specialist in this condition that will carry the most weight with the judge, and it is better if your neurologist sees you periodically to get an update on your limitations of function.

Even if your condition is not yet severe enough to be considered disabling by itself, the symptoms of your Parkinson’s could contribute to your disability in combination with the symptoms of your other disabling conditions.  Parkinson’s disease often causes tremor in the hands.  Any limitation in the use of your hands is significant in terms of limiting the number of jobs available to you.

If you are seeking disability benefits on the basis of your Parkinson’s disease alone, the Social Security Administration’s listing of impairments addresses how severe your condition needs to be for that.  Those regulations are copied below:

11.06 Parkinsonian syndrome with the following signs: Significant rigidity, bradykinesia, or tremor in two extremities, which, singly or in combination, result in sustained disturbance of gross and dexterous movements, or gait and station