How to Obtain Disability Benefits for Muscle Atrophy

Muscle atrophy, in the most basic sense, is muscle decline or wasting away. This muscle decline can occur in one muscle, a group of muscles or throughout the entire body. When muscles decline or waste away you generally will experience weakness in the affected area. 

Causes of Muscle Atrophy

Muscle atrophy can be caused by disease, injury or simply old age. Some of the typical diseases that may cause muscle atrophy include muscular dystrophy or spinal muscular atrophy. It may also be caused by immobility or lack of movement. If you do not use your muscles, they will decrease in size, thus affecting your ability to use the affected area. An individual generally starts losing muscle mass after three weeks of inactivity. The longer you are immobile, the more wasting or muscle decline you will experience. This disuse can be a temporary condition. In severe cases, there may be a permanent loss of muscle fibers thus making it impossible to regain muscle or strength in the area. This is the case in most elderly situations as age is a factor in terms of the ability to recover muscle mass. 

As you can imagine, muscle loss leading to immobility can be quite a disabling condition. Some of the more common situations where you would see muscle atrophy are after an injury or surgery. To determine if your muscle atrophy or weakness qualifies you for social security disability benefits, you must first ask yourself one very important question. Is muscle atrophy so severe that it will prevent you from working in any occupation for a minimum of twelve months? If the answer to the question is yes, then you should be applying for social security disability benefits.

What You Should Know about Filing a Disability Claim 

For the best possible disability claim, there are a few things you should know. 

  1. First, you must meet the technical qualifications of the program. While social security disability is a federally mandated program, it does not mean every single person has this potential coverage from the federal government. You will only have coverage under the social security disability insurance program if you have paid enough in taxes or coverage. 

Think of the social security disability program as a private insurance company. Let’s use Geico, a car insurance company, as an example. If you are in a car accident and suffer damage to your vehicle, you would submit a claim to your insurance company, Geico, to pay to have your vehicle fixed. When Geico receives your claim, they are first going to check that you have insurance coverage and also that the coverage was in effect at the time of the accident. If your insurance coverage was not in effect at the time of the accident, Geico will not pay for the damage to your vehicle. Similarly, if you have not paid your premium for the insurance coverage, Geico will not pay for the vehicle. 

In terms of Social Security Disability, you have this insurance coverage by paying taxes on your working income. Paying taxes is essentially your “premium” for the disability insurance coverage. The general rule is that if you have paid taxes on your working income for the past five out of ten years, you will have this insurance coverage. The second part is you will need to show your insurance coverage was in effect at the time your disability began. For example, if your disability insurance coverage ran out in January 2019, but your disability began a year later in January 2020, you would lack insurance coverage at the time of your disability and thus would not qualify for social security disability insurance.  The key takeaway is that you must pay taxes into the social security system to have this coverage and that you must have the coverage at the time your disability began. 

  1. The second thing you must know is that to have a good claim for disability, you must have proof you are disabled. Medical evidence is the best way to prove a disability. Your medical evidence should include a significant history of medical treatment for your condition, physical examinations noting limitations, a diagnosis from your medical provider, and showing you are following all recommended medical treatments. In the situation of muscle atrophy, your medical records should show the general wasting away of the affected area along with examinations showing decreased strength and range of motion, along with disuse. Your records should also show a plan formulated by your doctor with recommendations, such as the use of an assistive device. Physical therapy notes are also helpful as they will go into more detail about your strength and limitations with activities. Your medical provider may also recommend diagnostic testing, including imaging and nerve testing, which will also document the severity of the atrophy you are experiencing. 
  2. Third, you should obtain experienced legal representation to fight for your benefits from the social security administration. In situations involving muscle atrophy, it will be important to show the atrophy is permanent, or at the very least not recoverable for a minimum of twelve months. This type of argument is different depending upon the individual’s age. If you are an older individual, over the age of 50, proving permanent muscle atrophy or muscle loss will involve a different legal argument than if you are a younger individual under the age of 50. Social security has created regulation for individuals who are age 50+ called the medical-vocational guidelines. These guidelines, or GRID rules, come into play if the applicant is 50 or over, and is suffering from a physical medical condition, as they are unable to perform their past relevant work. GRID rules are quite convoluted with multiple exceptions to the rule. Using a GRID argument to support your disability claim is best done with an experienced disability attorney. At the LaBovick Law Group, we specialize in using the GRID rules to help win our clients’ disability benefits. If you are under the age of 50, while the GRID rules would not come into play, you may still have a good claim for benefits if you can prove an inability to perform any and all work in the national economy. 

Contact LaBovick Law Group Today

If you are suffering from severe muscle atrophy that is preventing you from working, call us at the LaBovick Law Group for a free consultation about whether the disability program is right for you. We will discuss whether you are technically qualified for these benefits and how best to submit your claim for benefits. Call us today at (561) 623-3681. 

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