Neuropathy can be a debilitating condition. More severe symptoms of neuropathy may make it difficult or impossible to go to work as normal. Severe neuropathy sufferers may be eligible for a disability benefit from the Social Security Administration (SSA), but this requires a considerable amount of time and energy applying to the SSA. Many applications are rejected initially, but this is usually because there is insufficient evidence of the functional limitations imposed on the neuropathy sufferer.
Neuropathy affects the peripheral nervous system, i.e. the nerves that radiate around the body away from the brain and spinal cord. The main symptoms include numbness, weakness, dizziness, pain, sometimes acute, coordination problems, bowel and bladder dysfunction and in extreme cases, paralysis.
Symptoms of less severe neuropathy may be treatable. It depends on the cause of the damage to the peripheral nerves and which nerves have been damaged. Severe symptoms make it hard or impossible to continue working, and this may mean that the SSA will determine that there is sufficient evidence to qualify for a disability benefit.
Qualifying For Disability Benefits With a Functional Limitation
The first step when applying for a disability benefit is for symptoms to be matched with the criteria in the SSA’s Blue Book. The Blue Book listing relevant to neuropathy is in section 11.14, neurological disorders.
However, because neuropathy can be brought on by several other, diverse medical conditions, an application for a disability benefit may be for another illness altogether such as diabetes. This highlights the reason why the SSA will be looking for a complete medical history and inventory of your medical condition.
Even if your symptoms of neuropathy don’t meet the criteria for the condition as determined in the Blue Book, there is another route with which a benefit may be obtained. A Medical Vocational Allowance may be satisfied if the combination of medical symptoms, medical history and effect on the ability to maintain a job determine that you qualify for a disability benefit.
The main method of determining eligibility for a Medical Vocational Allowance will be the results of a residual functional capacity (RFC) form completion, either by your own doctor or by a medical examiner working with the Disability Determination Services (DDS).
The RFC will use physical and mental tests of your ability to carry out tasks to help decide whether you are able to continue working.
What to Expect When Applying For SSD with a Medical Vocational Allowance
The doctor completing a RFC form will use a series of tests that determine your ability to do physical activities, such as lifting, bending, standing, walking, maintaining balance, and ability to get dressed.
The DDS will use the results of the RFC as well as evidence from a vocational expert to decide whether the functional limitations imposed by your neuropathy symptoms make you eligible for a benefit.
Have a Professional On Your Side
The majority of applications for a SSD are initially rejected. It can be a frustrating experience applying for a disability benefit. It makes sense to contact a disability lawyer before applying to the SSA.
A disability lawyer can assess the evidence you have available regarding your condition and based on long experience, advise whether an application is likely to be successful or whether further medical information is necessary. If the initial application is rejected, a lawyer’s help would be advisable if you decide to request a hearing with an administrative law judge.
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