The moment you were diagnosed with diabetes you knew that it would have a profound impact on your life, but you might not have been able to anticipate the pain and limitations that you would experience once you were diagnosed with diabetic neuropathy.
Neuropathy Changes Everything
Your doctor diagnosed you with neuropathy caused by your diabetes because your nerves have been affected by your condition. Specifically, you may suffer from:
- Tingling, burning, or pain
- Increased sensitivity to touch—the weight of your clothing, for example, may be very uncomfortable
- Muscle weakness
- Loss of reflexes
- Loss of balance and coordination
- Foot problems such as infections, bone, and joint pain
You can no longer go about your activities, do your job, or help support your family. In addition to worrying about your health and suffering through the pain of your condition, you are worried about your financial future.
Social Security Disability May Help—If You Qualify
The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes that neuropathy can be a disabling condition. Accordingly, the SSA specifically addresses this condition in Section 11.14 of the Listing of Impairments.
Section 11.14 provides that a person with peripheral neuropathy may be eligible for Social Security disability if that person has disorganization of motor function in spite of prescribed treatment. Thus, in order to receive benefits you will need to prove that:
- You have significant and persistent disorganization of motor function in at least two extremities.
- Disorganization of motor function results in the sustained disturbance of either your gross and dexterous movements or your gait and station.
- You tried the treatments prescribed by your doctor and they didn’t work or you did not try the treatments because you are exempt from doing so for a reason recognized by the SSA.
If you do not meet this standard, you will need to prove to the SSA that your condition is at least as disabling as another condition in the Listing of Impairments or that you are unable to work.
The Social Security Administration Denies Many Initial Applications
While your condition may qualify you for Social Security disability, your application may be denied if:
- There is any information missing, any information that is inaccurate, or any information that is confusing.
- You fail to establish that you are disabled according to the definitions and requirements established by the Social Security Administration.
- You fail to prove that you can’t work.
- You failed to follow your doctors’ treatment plans and you do not have a valid reason for failing to comply with the recommended treatment plans.
- You did not provide the required documentation with your application.
If your Social Security disability application is denied for any of these reasons, you might have the right to appeal and, ultimately, to get the benefits you deserve. However, this may result in the unnecessary delay of your benefits. Accordingly, you may save yourself time and aggravation by filing your application correctly the first time with the help of an experienced Social Security disability lawyer who knows what the Social Security Administration is looking for and who can help you get the benefits you deserve.
by Paul B. Burkhalter Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.