Obtaining Life Insurance If You Are 50+ And Have Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Written by Ryan Cravitz

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society estimates there are more than 2.3 Million people living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) worldwide.

This figure is only an estimate since MS is very challenging to diagnose in the first place. Plus, the United States does not have a centralized registry or a process for tracking MS cases.

At this point in time, MS is still somewhat of a mystery.

If you have MS you surely know that the cause of MS remains unknown and there is no cure. And, as you are sure to know as well there are medications available to help control MS symptoms.

Although MS may be an ambiguous disease, there is no uncertainty when it comes to MS patients buying life insurance. Despite the challenges…

Securing affordable life insurance over age 50 with MS is possible.

The severity of your MS diagnosis, as well as any other health conditions you are managing, will definitely impact the rate and the type of policy you acquire.

Working with an insurance agent experienced in high risk applicants is best. This way you can be sure your agent knows the right life insurer, the right policy, and the right price for your unique situation.

What Rate Class Will You Qualify For If You Have Multiple Sclerosis?

Each applicant is distinctive in all areas of their life such as age, medical history, and lifestyle choices. So insurance companies use all the information provided to build a profile of the applicant.

The life insurer will then evaluate that profile based on their corporate guidelines and assign a rating class.

Ultimately the rating class assigned to the applicant will determine the final premium amount. This can differ from carrier to carrier.

Below is a general idea of what you may expect when it comes to your own rating outcome as an individual over 50 with MS.

Best Scenario: The best case scenario is a “Standard” rating.

This outcome is exclusive to applicants that do not use tobacco, have no chronic health conditions (besides their MS), and maintain good control of their MS with no disability and minimal flare-ups.

Average Scenario: The most common outcome is a “Sub-Standard”/Table Rating between Table 3 and Table 8.

This scenario may apply to those MS patients that do not work, have more frequent episodes, or experience health complications from their MS.

Worst Scenario: Applicants with regular attacks, progressing disease with few remissions, or in need of assistance with daily activities will most likely be declined.

Even for those seniors with MS that are declined a traditional term or permanent life insurance plan, there are other life insurance options available.

What should you do if you have been declined for life insurance coverage because of your MS?

Do not worry if you are declined for a traditional life insurance policy! Even seniors with MS can find a great life insurance plan that will provide peace of mind.

Your insurance agent will probably recommend you buy a final expense life insurance policy or guaranteed acceptance life insurance plan.

There are pros and cons to both. Be sure to review with your agent both policy types and ask lots of questions.

How Do Life Insurance Ratings Work?

Life insurance companies generally use these rating classes to determine premiums:

Ratings Class Reason for Rating
Preferred Plus Healthiest, Lowest Risk Applicants
Preferred Very Healthy, Low Risk Applicants
Standard Controlled Medical Condition
Sub-Standard (aka Table Rating) Chronic Illness (Moderate to Severe)

A “Table Rating” may be one of 16 different ranks (depending on the insurance company) below a “Standard” rating class. Table ratings usually start with A or 1, B or 2, and so forth.

Overall premiums will go up about 25% on average for each table rating level. The actual percentage will differ depending on the insurance carrier.

For example, let’s suppose the standard premium for a life insurance policy you like is $35 per month.

Let’s also assume you receive a table rating of 1 or A then you might pay around $44 per month (or 25% above Standard).  This varies though from company to company.

Or maybe you receive a table rating of 4 or D which is equivalent to the Standard rating class plus 100% rate-up. In this case, the life insurance premium might double to roughly $70 per month.

Don’t forget, your overall rating isn’t specific to your advanced age or your MS diagnosis. All the personal details you provide will be evaluated and can ultimately influence the final rating.

There are plenty of ways you can try to save on your life insurance premiums such as not using tobacco and being a healthy weight.

The Phases of Multiple Sclerosis and Securing Life Insurance

The MS phase you are currently in indicates how far your illness has progressed. It can also provide a clue to which treatments will be successful.

Life insurance companies will certainly drill into your medical records to determine your MS phase.

The phase will definitely be taken into consideration when assigning your rating class.

Below are the four distinct phases of MS. Let’s see if you recognize which phase you are currently experiencing.

  1. Relapsing-Remitting MS: This is the most common course of illness. It’s estimated 85% of individuals are diagnosed in this course.

People with Relapsing-Remitting MS have attacks of worsening neurologic function. The attacks (aka “relapses”, “flare-ups”, or “exacerbations”) are followed by recovery periods in which there’s no disease progression.

  1. Primary-Progressive MS: This intense course accounts for about 10% of all individuals diagnosed with MS.

Primary-Progressive MS results in slowly worsening neurological function with no remissions. Damage to the individual’s spinal cord is obvious and impacts their daily activities.

  1. Secondary-Progressive MS: This course typically follows Relapsing-Remitting MS. In this phase, the disease worsens steadily.

The individual may (or may not) experience occasional flare-ups, remissions, or plateaus. This aspect of the Secondary-Progressive MS phase varies among patients.

There is no long-term proof that treatment can slow down disease progression within this course.

  1. Progressive-Relapsing MS: This course is very rare as only about 5% of MS patients experience this phase.

Progressive-Relapsing MS presents with steadily worsening disease from the very beginning. Patients have attacks resulting in weaker neurologic function over time. There is occasionally a short recovery period after relapses but not in every case.

Let’s take a look at what to expect when applying for life insurance over age 50 with Multiple Sclerosis.

Application Process for People Over 50 with Multiple Sclerosis

Your application process will start the same as all other applicants. The life insurer will ask for basic information such as your current age, marital status, occupation, hobbies, height, and weight.

As soon as your MS diagnosis is disclosed, be sure to expect additional questions from the insurance company. They will want to really dig into your history and completely understand your MS experience.

Below is a list of some common questions you should anticipate answering. Be prepared and be honest!

  • When did you begin having MS symptoms?
  • What date were you diagnosed with MS?
  • How old were you at the time of diagnosis?
  • What was your specific diagnosis? What type of MS do you have?
  • Are you taking any medications for MS? If so, provide the name and dosage.
  • Have you done any kinds of treatments for your MS?
  • How has your illness responded to medication and/or treatment(s)?
  • What are your actual symptoms? Describe your symptoms.
  • Do you currently work full-time?
  • Do you follow a healthy diet and exercise routine?
  • Has your MS improved or worsened over time?
  • When was your last attack? Are your MS attacks frequent or sporadic?
  • Have you had seizures? How many?
  • Do you use tobacco?
  • Do you have any other medical conditions?

Breaking Down MS Application Questions

So many folks like yourself wonder “what’s the point” of these MS application questions.

You may be asking yourself: “What is the insurance company trying to determine by asking me these questions? And how do the answers impact my overall ability to obtain quality and affordable life insurance protection?”

Okay, here is the breakdown of how a few of the answers regarding your MS will be viewed by the life insurance company:

Date of Diagnosis: The longer it’s been since your diagnosis and the better your overall prognosis then the more appealing you are to the insurance company.

MS Symptoms: Each MS symptom will be evaluated differently. For example, balance or fatigue issues really aren’t symptoms the life insurer finds concerning. On the other hand, blindness or speech impairments are of great concern for an insurance company.

Work Status: Applicants with MS that continue to work are more favorable then those that are on disability and not able to work. Obviously, this is because those individuals not able to hold a job because of their MS are viewed as having a more advanced stage of illness.

DUI Charges: If you have a history of DUI charges on your driving record, this can certainly be a negative.

First, DUI charges are typically viewed in a negative way by insurance carriers. This is because a DUI indicates you are a risky individual.

Second, alcohol has been shown to worsen MS symptoms. So the life insurance company will not like that you are using alcohol in excess despite your MS diagnosis.

Date of Last MS Attack: If your most recent MS attack happened within the last 12 months then be prepared for your application to be “postponed”.

Being “postponed” is not the same as a decline. It simply means your application is put on hold until your condition improves or additional time has passed.

Medical Exam

Remember, applying for a term or permanent life insurance plan means you will probably also be given a medical exam unless you are specifically applying for no medical exam life insurance.

Normally the “para-medical” exam will take less than 30 minutes to complete and is performed at no cost to you.

The life insurance carrier will coordinate a medical professional (usually a nurse) to visit your home and complete the exam.

You will submit blood and urine samples. The nurse will also measure your height, weight, blood pressure, and pulse.

In addition, the nurse will review your medical history and clarify some of the information provided on your application.

How to Prepare for The Life Insurance Application Process

The better prepared you are for the life insurance application process, the easier the process will be for you and the insurance carrier.

Here are a few tips your insurance agent will probably go over with you:

  • Be honest! Withholding information never works since the life insurance company will do a lot of research into your medical history.
  • Kick your smoking habit! Being a tobacco user will DOUBLE your premium compared to non-smokers.
  • Comply with prescribed medication, follow treatment plans exactly, visit your doctor regularly, and make sure your medical records are updated. All of these actions will show the life insurer that you are making a true effort to control your MS.
  • Take good care of your health in other ways like eating healthy, losing weight, lowering cholesterol and/or blood pressure. Do everything you can to stay in good health and live a long life!
  • The sooner you lock-in a life insurance plan the better! Today is the youngest you will ever be again. Waiting longer to buy life insurance only increases your rates.
  • Remember, if you have any positive changes in your health or lifestyle, you can certainly apply for a new life insurance policy. Or you can request a “reconsideration” where your application is evaluated again and you are able to secure a better premium as a result.

Time to Apply

Recent research hints that MS patients may live 7 years less than their peers. This is believed to be a result of complications from their MS, as well as the strain of secondary health conditions.

So, for obvious reasons, the life insurance company will take a critical approach to reviewing your MS diagnosis. At the same time, life insurers recognize that there continue to be positive breakthroughs in MS treatments and medications.

As a result, many seniors over 50 have been able to find cheap life insurance even though they are dealing with an MS diagnosis. You can do the same!

Remember, your insurance agent is a knowledgeable professional that can assist in selecting the best life insurance company for your budget and needs. Your agent will also serve as an excellent resource throughout the application process.

Over50LifeInsure can provide information and an instant quote no matter your situation. Our experienced life insurance agents are able to help. Please take a few minutes to fill out our form for instant quotes, or give us a call today at 714-916-9723. Your family will thank you!


We work with individuals across the nation to secure the best life insurance rates.

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