If you suffer from peripheral neuropathy and your condition makes it impossible for you to work, you may be eligible for monthly Social Security disability benefits. As those who suffer from neuropathy know, this impairment can be a very debilitating condition that can adversely impact your life in many ways. It can affect your ability to stand, walk, carry items, or lift even light objects. Of course, this can mean that if you have peripheral neuropathy, it may be impossible to for you to maintain gainful employment.
Neuropathy is a rather generalized term. It can represent any or all diseases or malfunctions of the peripheral nervous system. Because all nerves and nerve pathways located outside the spinal cord and brain are part of the peripheral nervous system, peripheral neuropathy can impact your whole body, from your hands to your feet. Neuropathy symptoms vary widely from person to person. For some, the symptoms of neuropathy develop gradually and for others they can occur suddenly.
If you suffer from peripheral neuropathy, you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). Because the road to benefits can be difficult to navitage, it’s very helpful to hire an experienced local disability attorney to help through the process and present your case.
The Social Security Administration has two programs which may be able to offer financial assistance—Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) for those who have worked in the past and made Social Security contributions, and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) designed to help those with little or no income. But to qualify for either program, you have to prove that your impairment is so disabling that it prevents you from sustaining full-time competitive employment on a consistent and reliable basis. Like all qualifying disabilities, your condition must be expected to last and keep you out of work for at least 12 months.
The SSA has a set of procedures in place to identify disabilities that are medically eligible for benefits. These procedures are published in a handbook known as the “Blue Book,” and it includes a long list of various disabling conditions known as “listings.”
The Blue Book has an impairment listing which specifically addresses peripheral neuropathy:
Section 11.14. In order to qualify under this listing, your neuropathy must be characterized by one of the following two criteria:
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, OR
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 managing pace; or
4. Adapting or managing oneself.
If you don’t have medical evidence that meets the requirements of a Blue Book listing, there is another way to be approved for benefits. The agency will assess your “residual functional capacity”, or RFC, to determine if there’s any type of work you’re able to perform given the limitations caused by your condition. If the SSA determines that you’re unable to do any work—including types of jobs you may have held in the past—you may still be approved based upon your age, education, and work experience. Social Security will make this determination based on whether you can sustain competitive employment on a consistent, full-time basis, or an equivalent schedule.
Be prepared to provide a great deal of documentation and medical evidence to support your claim that you’re unable to work. It’s extremely helpful to your claim to include your doctor’s notes and opinions about how your condition limits your activities and impacts your ability to work. For example, your doctor should explain how your peripheral neuropathy interferes with your ability to sit, walk, or stand for long periods of time and your ability to carry or lift objects.
If you’ve been diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy we can help you determine if you qualify for Social Security disability benefits. Call or email the local Chicago Social Security Disability attorneys at Nash Disability Law for a free evaluation of your situation. We can help you avoid costly disability mistakes.