Western New York (WNY) has long been known as a “hotspot” for multiple sclerosis (MS) cases. In Buffalo and Rochester the rate of MS is double that in the remainder of the country, according to the WNY Chapter of the National MS Society. If there is an “up” side to this issue, it’s that Western New York is also home to some of the most knowledgeable health care professionals working on this disease.
“We don’t know why this disease is more prevalent here. I am just thankful that my work here in WNY has brought to light the true plight of the MS patient,” said Professor Ralph H. B. Benedict, PhD, Department of Neurology and Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University at Buffalo, State University of New York, Buffalo, NY. Dr. Benedict is also lead author of a recent article on MS and cognitive impairment published in the prestigious medical journal, The Lancet Neurology. The article focuses on cognitive impairment, one of the less familiar symptoms of MS. Patients may experience these deficits starting when they are quite young or develop cognitive problems later in life.
MS is a chronic and progressive illness in which the immune system attacks the protective layer around nerve fibers causing inflammation and scar tissue and making it difficult for the brain to send signals to the rest of the body. The most common symptoms of MS are fatigue and difficulty walking, however, patients can also experience acute or chronic pain, tremors and speech disorders, and as described, cognitive difficulties. Since MS is progressive many sufferers eventually reach a point where they can no longer work.
“As an attorney who represents claimants, my experience has been that Dr. Benedict is one of the few doctors who really seems to recognize the value in assisting the client/patient to gather evidence of their disability,” said Christopher J. Grover, attorney in the Buffalo offices of Jeffrey Freedman Attorneys, PLLC. “Not all doctors respond to our requests to fill out questionnaires or to provide an opinion as to the person’s limitations. Dr. Benedict understands that a person without income is going to have higher stress levels and difficulties managing their treatment — because they can’t afford prescriptions, tests, or sometimes even appointments.”
Dr. Benedict doesn’t just deal with MS, he deals with the person as a whole. If he can treat their MS – and explain why it would be difficult for them to work a full-time job, then he is going to impact much more than just their health, added Kevin J. Bambury, who serves SSD clients from the Rochester offices of Jeffrey Freedman Attorneys.
“If my patient is going through the process of applying for SSD, my perspective is to get Social Security to appreciate the hidden deficit of cognitive impairment and the depth of the problem in these patients,” Dr. Benedict said. “Often, individuals develop coping mechanisms that help them cover up deficits for a time, but eventually problems begin to develop with not only job performance but also how they relate to the workplace, co-workers and their superiors.”
As part of the evidence that the claimant can no longer work, Dr. Benedict uses neuropsychological tests and brain imaging to quantify cognitive deficits, in addition to connecting the dots between losses of manual dexterity and difficulties in performing a job.
If you or someone you know can no longer work due to MS or another chronic illness or injury, request a free consultation with Christopher Grover at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 855-847-8969. Jeffrey Freedman Attorneys has been handling Social Security Disability claims for more than 40 years.