MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS: MS Cognitive Impairment and Social Security Disability

Multiple Sclerosis is well known for the physical debilitation that it causes its victims.  However, many patients experience even more than physical debilitation. They also suffer from cognitive impairment.

Cognitive impairment occurs in up to 65 percent of people with MS and substantially impacts the lives of patients with MS and their families.

These are the cognitive functions most likely to be affected by MS:

  • Short Term Memory
  • Attention and Concentration
  • Information processing (using 5 senses)
  • Executive functions (planning and prioritizing)
  • Visuospatial functions (visual perception and constructional abilities)
  • Verbal fluency (word-finding)

Half to three-quarters of people with MS are unemployed within 10 years of diagnosis.  Many apply for Social Security Disability.

When an MS sufferer applies for Social Security Disability, this is the standard used by the Social Security Administration to determine eligibility:

11.09 Multiple sclerosis, characterized by A or B:

A. Disorganization of motor function in two extremities, resulting in an extreme limitation in the ability to stand up from a seated position, balance while standing or walking, or use the upper extremities.


B. Marked limitation in physical functioning, and in one of the following:

  1. Understanding, remembering, or applying information; or
  2. Interacting with others; or
  3. Concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace; or
  4. Adapting or managing oneself.

MS sufferers should contact a medical professional for diagnosis and treatment, and a Social Security Disability attorney for assistance with the process of applying for Social Security Disability.

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Originally published: February 12, 2014, at

 Last updated: September 13, 2017 at 13:34 pm