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Parkinson's can strike while you are still working

Parkinson’s disease is often thought of as an illness that affects older people. If that were true, no one would ever have to retire young because of this serious, progressive neurological disorder.

Sadly, some people develop Parkinson’s earlier in life, at a point when they are still working. At some point, it is likely that the disease will make it impossible to perform basic work duties, even if the patient has an office job. When this happens, it may be time to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. As regular readers know, SSD is a federal program to pays benefits to people who cannot work because of a disability.

It has been 20 years since a Columbia couple’s life was changed by a diagnosis of Parkinson’s. The husband was just 44 when he began experiencing loss of dexterity and rigidity in his muscles. His doctors were confused at first, because less was known about the disorder in those days, and briefly believed the man either had a thyroid problem or a brain tumor.

The man was an accountant, and he tried to keep working. But after about a year, a tremor had developed in his knee that caused him to hit himself on his desk over and over. In addition, the stress of working exacerbated his symptoms. His hands would tighten nearly into fists.

Still, the man soldiered on for three more years before he was forced to retire at around age 48. By 51, his condition had progressed to the point that he went on disability.

Most people would rather work, disability or no disability. But some conditions make doing so impossible. Fortunately, SSD benefits can help pay for basic necessities in that situation.

Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, “Parkinson’s fight inspires couple to help others,” Ashley Jost, June 28, 2014

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