Neuropathy, more commonly called peripheral neuropathy, is a term used to refer to a variety of diseases that cause the peripheral nervous system to malfunction. The peripheral nervous system includes all nerves that are not in the brain or spinal cord and their associated pathways.
In some cases, neuropathy develops gradually. In other cases, it comes on quite suddenly. Its major symptoms include a loss of muscle, muscular twitching, weakness, sensory changes, and changes to the autonomic system. Many people with peripheral neuropathy experience muscle spasms and cramping.
Other problems commonly associated with peripheral neuropathy include: an irregular heart rate, abnormal blood pressure, loss of perspiration (ability to sweat), numbness, tingling, and a sensation that has been described as being like wearing an invisible sock or glove. In some cases, it also causes extreme touch sensitivity.
The Social Security Administration lists peripheral neuropathy in its list of disabling conditions. Because of this, there are specific criteria SSA adjudicators use to determine if your neuropathy is severe enough to qualify you for Social Security Disability benefits. These criteria include paralysis, ataxia, tremor, and involuntary movement in two or more limbs. If you have one or more of these symptoms, you are likely to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits as long as your claim makes this clear.
Most Social Security Disability claimants find it helpful to have a Social Security Disability lawyer handle their claim and (if needed) their appeals for them. This ensures your best chances of having your claim accepted sooner rather than later.
If your neuropathy doesn’t meet the specific requirements for Social Security Disability, you may still qualify for Social Security Disability benefits if you can demonstrate that you don’t have the functional capacity to continue performing any kind of work that is available. If you find yourself in this situation, consult a Social Security Disability lawyer for help in putting your claim together, as you will need to prove that you are unable to perform any physical or sedentary work that may be available somewhere.
Neuropathy and Your Ability to Perform Physical Work
A number of symptoms associated with neuropathy can make it difficult or impossible to perform physical work. Paralysis and ataxia can affect your ability to walk, bend, lift, or perform many of the actions required for physical labor.
If you experience touch sensitivity, make sure that is thoroughly documented as well. Touch sensitivity, if it is severe enough, can make it impossible to do any job in which you may be bumped or jostled. This obviously rules out the vast majority of existing physical jobs.
Make sure that your medical records include all specific limitations your doctor places on your activities, as well as all daily activities that are affected by your neuropathy. Limitations should be very specific, and should include any limits on standing, walking and lifting.
Neuropathy and Your Ability to Perform Sedentary Work
Peripheral neuropathy sufferers are often incapable of performing even sedentary work. Besides the fact that nerve damage can cause sitting for long periods of time to be very painful, the condition often affects fine motor skills, making it impossible to do many of the tasks required in sedentary jobs.
To give yourself the best chance of having your Social Security Disability claim accepted early in the process, have your Social Security Disability lawyer go over every conceivable limitation your disability causes you, not only in the workplace, but also in your personal life. Many of the tasks performed every day (and your ability to perform them) at home are considered by the Social Security Administration when determining whether you are completely disabled for Social Security Disability purposes.