Multiple sclerosis affects young and middle-aged people and often leads to physical and cognitive handicaps. There is a need for detailed knowledge of the social consequences of the disease. We aim here to describe the course of the working life and career of multiple sclerosis patients at the time of onset and thereafter, in terms of probability of early pension and income development. All 2538 patients with multiple sclerosis in Denmark with disease onset between 1980 and 1989, identified through the Danish MS-Registry, were included in this study. Twenty matched control persons per patient were randomly drawn from the civil registration system. Information on economic status was retrieved from Statistics Denmark. A survival analysis technique was used with onset as the starting point. We found that the probability of remaining without early pension was at 5 years 70% for patients and 97% for controls, and at 20 years 22% for patients and 86% for controls. Due to lower rates for early pension, gross income with time was lower in patients than controls. We conclude that multiple sclerosis seriously affects the economic life of multiple sclerosis patients, even within a few years of onset.