Neuropathy can be a severely debilitating condition that affects nearly 20 million people in the United States alone. Sixty percent of those who suffer from diabetes will also suffer from Neuropathy. Unfortunately, the effects of severe Neuropathy can make it nearly impossible for an individual to perform substantial work activity. As a result, the lack of income and medical expenses related to the condition can be financially devastating. In some cases, Social Security Disability benefits may be able to offset the financial burden caused by Neuropathy. If you are suffering from Neuropathy and are wondering how it might affect your eligibility for Social Security Disability benefits, the following information can help.
Neuropathy - Condition and Symptoms
Neuropathy, also referred to as peripheral Neuropathy, is a broad term given to a range of disorders affecting the peripheral nerves of the body. The nerves that branch out from the spinal cord to the different parts of the body are referred to as the peripheral nervous system.
The cells in the peripheral nerves have three main components including the body of the cell, the axons and the dendrites. While any part of the cell may be affected with Neuropathy, the axons are the cell components that are most commonly damaged. The axoms are responsible for transmitting the signals from one nerve cell to another nerve cell or from a nerve cell to a muscle.
When any damage occurs to the peripheral nerves of the body the condition is referred to as Neuropathy. Neuropathy can develop over time or may occur suddenly. Each case of Neuropathy is unique and individuals will experience varying levels of severity.
There are varying types of Neuropathy including mononeuropathy, polyneuropathy, and symmetric Neuropathy. Mononeuropathy affects one area of the body while polyneuropathy affects multiple areas. Symmetric Neuropathy occurs when the disorder affects the same areas on both sides of the body.
While the causes of Neuropathy cannot always be identified, contributing factors include diabetes, alcoholism, autoimmune disorders, metabolic disorders, nerve laceration or entrapment, medications and vitamin deficiencies, among other factors.
The symptoms of Neuropathy will vary from person to person. Common symptoms of Neuropathy include tingling, numbness, pain, abnormal blood pressure or heart rate, involuntary movement, incontinence, sexual dysfunction, cramping, muscle weakness, balance loss and impaired coordination. If a patient suffering from Neuropathy leaves the condition untreated, he or she may experience permanent loss of nerve function, severe tissue damage and muscle atrophy.
In some cases, the progress of Neuropathy can be slowed or even reversed. Early treatment is crucial, however, if permanent damage is to be avoided. The longer an individual leaves their Neuropathy untreated, the more likely it is that permanent damage will occur. Treatment of Neuropathy is often addressed by treatment of the underlying cause, injection therapy, vitamin therapy, pain medications, physical therapy or acupuncture.
Filing for Social Security Disability with Neuropathy
When you apply for Social Security Disability benefits, the disability examiner reviewing your case will refer to a published listing of impairments known as the Blue Book. The Blue Book contains guidelines that the Social Security Administration (SSA) uses to determine whether or not you are eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. Neuropathy is mentioned in Section 9.08 and Section 11.14 of the Blue Book.
Section 9.08 of the Blue book discusses Neuropathy as a result of diabetes mellitus and Section 11.14 discusses the body's neurological systems with a direct mention of peripheral Neuropathy. Under both listings, your Neuropathy must result in a tremor, paralysis, involuntary movement in at least two of your arms and legs, or ataxia in order to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits.
Even if you do not meet the specific conditions listed above, you may still be able to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits if you can provide the SSA with sufficient evidence to prove that your condition prevents you from performing any substantial gainful work activity. This can be done with medical records and statements from your treating physicians.
Neuropathy and Your Social Security Disability Case
If you are suffering from severe Neuropathy and your condition meets all of the published guidelines set forth by the SSA, your application for Social Security Disability benefits may be approved at the initial stage of the application process. If your disability case does not meet the published guidelines exactly as they appear in the Social Security Blue Book, you will likely be denied benefits at the initial stage of the application process and will need to go on to file an appeal in order to receive the disability benefits you need.
If you are looking to file an initial claim for disability benefits or going through the appeals process, you will want to consult a qualified Social Security Disability attorney. Statistics show that applicants who have legal representation during all stages of the Social Security Disability claim process are more likely to be approved for benefits than those who do not.