Disabling Neuropathy

As type II diabetes becomes more and more common, many people suffer from peripheral neuropathy, which is a result of nerve damage. Neuropathy may cause weakness, pain, or numbness in the hands and feet, although it may occur in other parts of the body. Sometimes this nerve damage becomes so severe that it prevents people from maintaining their normal lifestyle, including the ability to work.

If neuropathy forces someone to stop working and they apply for disability benefits, there are some important tips to help document the disability. First, establishing treatment with a neurologist is very important. A Neurologist is the appropriate specialist to diagnose and treat neuropathy. If a person does not properly document their neuropathy, they will face a tough challenge in having their disability claim approved. Diagnosis requires considering full medical history, neurological examination (such as checking reflexes, sensation, and coordination), physical examination, and appropriate testing. The testing most commonly used for diagnosing neuropathy includes electromyography, nerve conduction tests, nerve biopsy or skin biopsy, blood tests, MRIs or other medical imaging tests, and lumbar puncture (or spinal tap).

Second, it is necessary for the disability claimant to maintain regular treatment with their neurologist and other medical care providers. If it is shown that the disabled person has not complied with recommended treatment, then disability benefits may be denied.

Third, a person applying for disability benefits will want to document how their neuropathy is affecting their everyday functioning. This includes their ability to do household chores like cooking and cleaning, and the ability to shop, shower, and dress. If the person applying for disability benefits properly documents their restrictions in activities of daily living, they will stand a better chance of being approved for disability benefits.

Fourth, once a disability claimant has established with a neurologist, complied with all recommended treatment, and documented their restrictions in activities of daily living, they may want to have their neurologist explain in a detailed written statement how their neuropathy disables them. For Social Security disability claims, there is a specific medical listing addressing the requirements that need to be shown for neuropathy claims. The adult listing for “peripheral neuropathies” is found in Part A of the Social Security listing 11.14.

Peripheral neuropathy is not the only form of disabling neuropathy. Autonomic neuropathy may also cause disabling symptoms, including digestive problems or heart and lung issues. Autonomic neuropathy may be very difficult to diagnose. Like peripheral neuropathy, it is essential to see a neurologist and follow all recommended medical treatment. Additionally, the claimant may need to keep a daily log of their neuropathy symptoms so that they can document how it disables them. For example, if autonomic neuropathy is causing nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and the inability to control bladder function, then these symptoms should be regularly noted in a daily log to establish the frequency, duration, and severity of the symptoms. Again, the disability claimant may need their neurologist to explain in a detailed written statement how autonomic neuropathy is disabling them.

If you have disabling neuropathy and you received a denial letter for short term disability benefits, long term disability benefits, or Social Security disability benefits, contact O’Ryan Law Firm today for a free consultation.