Saturday, October 10, 2009

Atypical Parkinson’s

Patients with atypical parkinsonism have some features of Parkinson's Disease (“PD”) such as tremors at rest, slowness of movement, stiffness, unsteadiness and freezing while walking). However, symptoms of atypical parkinsonism result not only from loss of cells of the substantia nigra as in classic PD, but also from degeneration of cells in other areas of the nervous system. Older patients are more severely affected by atypical parkinsonism and PD in general.

When applying for Social Security Disability ("SSD") benefits based on atypical parkinsonism, the Medical-Vocational rules should always be reviewed because the claimant is likely to be older than 50. I represent a 59 year old women who taught school for the last 15 years of her career. According to the Dictionary of Occupational Titles, teaching is light work, which means it is done primarily while standing and walking. A person who is at least 50 years old, and has only performed light work during the past 15 years must be found disabled under Medical-Vocational Rule 201.04 in the absence of transferable skills – even if capable of performing full time sedentary work.

I was able to have the claimant’s SSD application approved without a hearing, which likely would have required an additional 1.5 to 2 years, by demonstrating how the claimant met Medical-Vocational Rule 201.04. Arguments supporting disability based on the Medical-Vocational Rules or a listed impairment should always be highlighted as they are often screened for quick approval.

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