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Can Peripheral Neuropathy qualify me for Disability Benefits?

Appealing for benefits is best done under the guidance of an experienced disability lawyer.

If you are disabled due to the effects of Peripheral Neuropathy you may qualify for disability assistance.

Author Attorney Greg Reed:

Peripheral Neuropathy is a condition that occurs when the network of motor and sensory nerves which connect the brain and spinal cord to other parts of the body are damaged. This may result in impaired movement, pain, and abnormal sensations in the hands, feet, arms and legs. Approximately 20 million people have some form of peripheral neuropathy, which typically affects people over the age of 55 and although peripheral neuropathy can be painful and debilitating, it is rarely fatal.

Peripheral neuropathies include a variety of conditions and are divided into two classes: mononeuropathies, when there is damage to one nerve (as in Carpal Tunnel Syndrome), and polyneuropathies, when multiple nerves are damaged (as in Guillain Barre Syndrome).

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The SSA recognizes peripheral neuropathy as an impairment under Section 11.14 so you may qualify for disability assistance if you meet certain criteria. Call 512-454-4000 for help today.

In acute cases of peripheral neuropathy, symptoms appear suddenly, progress rapidly and resolve slowly, while in chronic cases, symptoms begin slowly, progress slowly and worsen over time. The condition may plateau with symptoms remaining the same for years.
Peripheral neuropathies are identified according to the type of nerve damaged. Common symptoms of peripheral neuropathy include numbness, tingling, burning sensations and muscle weakness, but will vary depending on the motor, sensory, or autonomic nerves damaged.

Damage to a motor nerve results in muscle weakness, cramps, and twitching. Decreased reflexes, muscle atrophy (decrease in muscle mass), and paralysis may also occur.

Sensory nerves control a wide range of functions.

Damage to sensory nerves may cause a decrease or increase in sensation, usually in the hands and feet, and affect a person’s ability to feel pain. Therefore, it’s important to monitor areas of numbness for injury. Some areas of the body may become abnormally sensitive to touch and a person may feel pain in response to a stimulus that normally doesn’t cause pain. A person with sensory nerve damage may experience a loss of position and be unable to coordinate movement, like walking, or have difficulty maintaining balance.

Contact a Social Security disability attorney at 512-454-4000 for a free consultation and see if you can get disability benefits while suffering from Peripheral Neuropathy. If you have been denied disability don’t give up!

Damage to the autonomic nerves that supply the internal organs may result in dizziness, the inability to sweat normally, irregular heartbeat, and gastrointestinal problems.

Sexual function may be impaired and in extreme cases, breathing becomes difficult.

The most common causes of peripheral neuropathy are Diabetes Mellitus and post herpetic neuralgia (or Shingles), but other known causes include:

  •   Vitamin deficiency, particularly vitamin B12 and folate
  •   Alcohol abuse
  •   Environmental factors such as exposure to toxins, pesticides and heavy metals
  •    Autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and Guillain-Barre Syndrome
  •   Trauma and nerve entrapment (as in Carpal Tunnel Syndrome)
  •   Certain cancers and chemotherapy
  •   Infections such as Lyme Disease

Peripheral neuropathy may also be hereditary, though these cases are uncommon, or there may be no known cause.

Diagnosis of peripheral neuropathy begins with a neurological exam which includes general questions about your health history and symptoms.

Your doctor may perform a number of diagnostic tests which include the following:

  •    Electromagnetic Test – measures the electrical activity of muscles and nerves to determine if there is nerve damage, the extent of damage and the potential cause of damage. The Electromyography (EMG) and Nerve Condition Velocity test (NCV) are examples of these tests.
  •   Blood tests – to check for vitamin deficiencies, toxic elements in the blood, and any evidence of abnormal immune system disease.
  •   Quantitative Sensory Testing (OST) – uses a computer to measure how nerves react to vibration and change in temperature.
  •   Autonomic Testing – monitors blood pressure, blood flow, heart rate, skin temperature and sweating to see if the nervous system in functioning normally.

Treatment for peripheral neuropathy depends on the cause responsible.

  •   Peripheral neuropathy caused by a vitamin deficiency can be corrected with nutritional supplements.
  •    Management of diabetes, though it will not reverse peripheral neuropathy, can improve symptoms and prevent progression.
  •   Peripheral neuropathy that is linked to an autoimmune disease improves with treatment specific to the disease.
  •   Prompt treatment of shingles by injection prevents its advancement to postherpetic neuralgia.
  •   Physical therapy, injections and surgery can treat peripheral neuropathy caused by nerve entrapment, such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
  •   Ibuprofen, aspirin and creams containing capsaicin can relieve pain.

As in other conditions, following a healthy lifestyle may help prevent peripheral neuropathy.

Avoid alcohol toxicity and exposure to heavy metals and chemicals. Exercise, eat a nutritious diet, and get a Shingles vaccination.

The Social Security Administration recognizes peripheral neuropathy as an impairment under Section 11.14.

11.14 Peripheral neuropathy, characterized by A or B:

A. Disorganization of motor function in two extremities (see 11.00D1), resulting in an extreme limitation (see 11.00D2) in the ability to stand up from a seated position, balance while standing or walking, or use the upper extremities.


B. Marked limitation (see 11.00G2) in physical functioning (see 11.00G3a), and in one of the following:

  1.   Understanding, remembering, or applying information (see 11.00G3b(i)); or
  2.   Interacting with others (see 11.00G3b(ii)); or
  3.    Concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace (see 11.00G3b(iii)); or
  4.   Adapting or managing oneself (see 11.00G3b(iv)).

Contact a Social Security disability attorney at 512-454-4000 for a free consultation and see if you can get disability benefits while suffering from Peripheral Neuropathy. If you have been denied disability don’t give up!

D. What do we mean by disorganization of motor function?

1. Disorganization of motor function means interference, due to your neurological disorder, with movement of two extremities; i.e., the lower extremities, or upper extremities (including fingers, wrists, hands, arms, and shoulders).

By two extremities we mean both lower extremities, or both upper extremities, or one upper extremity and one lower extremity. All listings in this body system, except for 11.02 (Epilepsy), 11.10 (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), and 11.20 (Coma and persistent vegetative state), include criteria for disorganization of motor function that results in an extreme limitation in your ability to:

  •   Stand up from a seated position; or
  •   Balance while standing or walking; or
  •   Use the upper extremities (including fingers, wrists, hands, arms, and shoulders).

2. Extreme limitation means the inability to stand up from a seated position, maintain balance in a standing position and while walking, or use your upper extremities to independently initiate, sustain, and complete work-related activities.

The assessment of motor function depends on the degree of interference with standing up; balancing while standing or walking; or using the upper extremities (including fingers, hands, arms, and shoulders).

  1.   Marked limitation and physical functioning. For this criterion, a marked limitation means that, due to the signs and symptoms of your neurological disorder, you are seriously limited in the ability to independently initiate, sustain, and complete work-related physical activities (see 11.00G3). You may have a marked limitation in your physical functioning when your neurological disease process causes persistent or intermittent symptoms that affect your abilities to independently initiate, sustain, and complete work-related activities, such as standing, balancing, walking, using both upper extremities for fine and gross movements, or results in limitations in using one upper and
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    one lower extremity. The persistent and intermittent symptoms must result in a serious limitation in your ability to do a task or activity on a sustained basis. We do not define “marked” by a specific number of different physical activities or tasks that demonstrate your ability, but by the overall effects of your neurological symptoms on your ability to perform such physical activities on a consistent and sustained basis. You need not be totally precluded from performing a function or activity to have a marked limitation, as long as the degree of limitation seriously limits your ability to independently initiate, sustain, and complete work-related physical activities.

If you are experiencing peripheral neuropathy and it has impacted your ability to work, you may be eligible for Social Security benefits.

In order to qualify for Social Security Disability, you will need to satisfy a few specific requirements in two categories as determined by the Social Security Administration.

The first category is the Work Requirements which has two tests.

  1.   The Duration of Work test.   Whether you have worked long enough to be covered under SSDI.
  2.   The Current Work Test.   Whether you worked recently enough for the work to actually count toward coverage.

The second category is the Medical Eligibility Requirement.

  1.   Are you working?   Your disability must be “total”.
  2.   Is your medical condition severe?    Your disability must be “severe” enough to interfere with your ability to perform basic work-related activities, such as walking, sitting, and remembering.
  3.   Is your medical condition on the List of Impairments?   The SSA has a “List of Impairments” that automatically qualify as “severe” disabilities. If your disease is not listed this does not mean you cannot get disability, it means you must prove you cannot maintain employment due to your limitations.
  4.   Can you do the work you did before?   SSDI rules look at whether your medical condition prevents you from doing the work you did prior to developing the condition.
  5.   Can you do any other type of work?   If you cannot do your prior work, an evaluation is made as to whether you can perform any other kind of work.

More details can be found on our Qualifying for Disability page.

An LTD Claim:

A Fort Worth client’s physician certified that she suffered from “constant neuropathic pain.” The same physician also certified that her condition would impair her for the remainder for her life, that she had regressed, and that he never anticipated a fundamental or marked change in her condition. The doctor did not anticipate that the client would ever be able to return to work. These conclusions were supported by two other physicians, but The Standard chose to deny her claim. We were able to get her a lump sum settlement.

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Disability benefits are an important source of income for those who are unable to work. If you not able to work due to accident or illness, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability or Long Term Disability benefits. If you have applied for benefits and been denied, contact the attorneys at Bemis, Roach and Reed for a free consultation. Call 512-454-4000 and get help NOW.

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Greg Reed disability lawyer
Author: Attorney Greg Reed has been practicing law for 29 years. He is Superlawyers rated by Thomson Reuters and is Top AV Preeminent® and Client Champion Gold rated by Martindale Hubbell. Through his extensive litigation Mr. Reed obtained board certification from the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Greg is admitted to practice in the United States District Court - all Texas Districts and the United States Court of Appeals-Fifth Circuit. Mr. Reed is a member of the Travis County Bar Association, Texas Trial Lawyers Association, past Director of the Capital Area Trial Lawyers Association, and an Associate member of the American Board of Trial Advocates. Mr. Reed and all the members of Bemis, Roach & Reed have been active participants in the Travis County Lawyer referral service.

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