When Does Parkinson's Disease Qualify for Disability Benefits?

Parkinson’s disease, or Parkinsonian Syndrome, is a disorder of the nervous system that affects a person’s movement. 

Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative disease, which means that the symptoms get worse with time. The most common early symptoms include body rigidity or stiffness and shakiness when the hands are at rest. Other early symptoms include fatigue, balance problems, slurred speech, reduced sense of smell, gastrointestinal problems, slowed movement, personality change, and lack of emotional expression. As the disease progresses, the symptoms get worse. Tremors and stiffness can affect the ability to move independently. Dementia may occur in the later stages of the disease.

There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, but medications can help to control symptoms.

In its early stages, Parkinson’s rarely affects the ability to work. However, progression of the disease can make it difficult to do many jobs safely and effectively. When Parkinson’s disease affects your ability to earn a living, Social Security benefits (SSDI) are an option. There are a few ways to qualify for SSDI for Parkinson’s disease.

Qualifying for Benefits by Meeting Medical Listing 11.06

The fastest way to receive SSDI for Parkinson’s disease is to qualify under the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) medical listing 11.06, Parkinsonian Syndrome. To qualify under this listing you must have a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease with medical documentation of the following symptoms:

  • Significant rigidity
  • Bradykinesia (slowness of movement)
  • Tremors in two extremities (both legs, both arms, or an arm and a leg)

Your symptoms must cause difficulty with fine motor skills, large motor skills, standing, or walking.

Qualifying for Benefits Based on a Reduced RFC

You can still qualify for SSDI, even if your symptoms of Parkinson’s disease don’t meet the guidelines of listing 11.06. You will have to show that your condition is severe enough to limit your ability to perform basic, work-related activities.

The SSA will use your medical records, your doctor’s report, and other evidence to evaluate your ability to do work on a consistent basis. The SSA will then consider your age, level of education, and prior work experience to determine if there is any type of job that you can do, given your limitations. 

The SSA’s decision will be based on the evidence that you provide to support your claim. Unfortunately, many who are seriously disabled are denied benefits the first time they apply. Give yourself the best chance of winning your claim; contact Keefe Disability Law at 888-904-6847, and ask to schedule a free case evaluation with a Brattleboro SSDI lawyer.

Do you want to learn more about the SSDI claims process? Request a free copy of Vermont disability attorney John Keefe’s book, Unlocking the Mystery: The Essential Guide for Navigating the Social Security Disability Claims Process.

John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney, Massachusetts Social Security Disability Lawyer