If you are a loved one’s caregiver and he or she is unable to work because of Parkinson’s Disease, he or she may qualify for disability benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA). There are two different disability programs administered by the SSA, and if your loved one’s symptoms are severe enough, he or she may qualify for benefits through either one or both programs. After approval, the claimant will receive back benefits as well as ongoing monthly benefits.
How Your Loved One Can Medically Qualify For Social Security Disability Benefits
In order to determine if an individual qualifies for disability benefits per the SSA guidelines, the SSA will review the application along with the medical records of the claimant. The condition should meet the criteria of listing in the SSA medical guide, which is referred to as the Blue Book. You can compare your loved one’s condition with a listing equivalent to Parkinson’s Disease and/or her symptoms. Qualification for benefits can vary depending on the severity of the symptoms and the diagnosis.
Parkinson’s Disease has its own listing in the Blue Book. To meet the criteria of the listing and to be approved for disability benefits, certain diagnostic criteria must be met. You will need to provide hard medical evidence and supporting documentation to show muscle rigidity, bradykinesia or a tremor in two extremities that causes ongoing movement problems, and problems with the ability to stand or problems with gait.
No single test can provide the definitive diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease, so physicians base the diagnosis on an evaluation of the current symptoms and a neurological exam. The physician will also check to see that at least two of the cardinal symptoms of the condition are present. The cardinal symptoms include muscle rigidity, tremor, and bradykinesia.
Other tell-tale diagnostic tools include tremors of the hand while at rest, symptoms that initiate on one side of the body, and a positive response to a standard Parkinson’s drug known as levodopa. The physician notes and your medical records should indicate your diagnosis and detail all your symptoms and the response to medications and treatment.
Becoming A Designated Payee
As the caregiver of a disabled individual with Parkinson’s Disease, you can become a designated payee and manage their monthly disability benefits. Disability payments are made electronically, so you will need access to the claimant’s bank account. There are many things that disability benefits can be used for, such as medical expenses, basic living expenses, and groceries. Keep all the receipts so if the SSA ever does an inquiry, you can prove that the funds were used for the benefit of the disabled person.
How To Get Your Loved One’s Disability Application Underway
As a caregiver for an individual disabled by Parkinson’s Disease, you can start their disability benefits claim. Unless you have power or attorney or are the legal guardian, the claimant must sign some of the documents needed to have the claim processed. You can apply at ssa.gov, call 1-800-772-1213, or visit a local SSA field office.