If you cannot work due to a medical or mental health condition, then you may qualify for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). Depending on your circumstances, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Neuropathy is a medical condition that results from damage to the nerves. It is associated with weakness, numbness, and pain, as well as other symptoms. If your neuropathy is severe enough that you are unable to work, then you may qualify for SSDI and/or SSI benefits.
At Bross & Frankel, our legal team is dedicated to helping people with disabilities get the benefits that they are entitled to under the law. We have decades of combined experience representing individuals with all types of disabilities in matters involving long-term disability benefits, Veterans’ benefits, and Social Security disability benefits. Give our law firm a call today to schedule a free claim review with a New Jersey disability benefits attorney.
Can You Work with Neuropathy?
Generally, neuropathy involves damage to the nerves that can affect other body functions. There are several different types of neuropathy, although the most common type is peripheral neuropathy. It has several potential causes, including infections, traumatic injuries, exposure to toxins, and diabetes. When peripheral neuropathy is caused by diabetes, it is known as diabetic neuropathy.
The peripheral nerves are located outside of the brain and spinal cord. They are responsible for sending information from your central nervous system to the rest of the body. When they are damaged, it can cause a wide range of issues, from weakness, numbness, and pain to issues with digestion, urination, and circulation.
When a person is first diagnosed with neuropathy, they might have relatively mild symptoms, such as prickling or tingling in their feet and hands. They might also start to notice a lack of coordination, heat intolerance, and sharp or burning pain. In some cases, neuropathy symptoms can be reduced by treating the underlying cause, or through medications and treatments such as nerve stimulation, plasma exchange, physical therapy, and surgery.
More severe cases of peripheral neuropathy can cause much more serious symptoms, such as loss of bodily functions, total or partial paralysis, and sensory problems. Over time, simple tasks such as walking can become difficult or even impossible. People with more advanced cases of peripheral neuropathy may find it challenging to do basic tasks, such as bathing, dressing, or feeding themselves.
Some of the most relevant impacts of peripheral neuropathy are the impact to fine motor function in the hands. Even if you are able to sit comfortably so that you are not on your feet, there are many sedentary jobs that could still be available. But, if your neuropathy also impacts your ability to type, finger, or work with small objects, the number of jobs available is substantially decreased.
If your symptoms impact your ability to function, then you may no longer be able to work. At this point, you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits. A seasoned New Jersey disability benefits lawyer can help you determine if you are eligible for SSDI and/or SSI based on your symptoms and how they affect your ability to work.
Qualifying for Social Security Disability Benefits with Neuropathy
Generally, to qualify for Social Security disability, you must prove that (1) you are disabled and (2) you are unable to work due to this disability. The SSA defines disability as the inability to work because of a physical or mental impairment that is expected to last for 12 months or longer or to result in death.
The SSA uses a five-step sequential process to determine if a person is disabled:
- If you are working, then you cannot earn more than a set amount, known as substantial gainful activity (SGA). For 2023, SGA is $1,470 for people who are not blind.
- Your impairment or combination of impairments must significantly limit your ability to perform basic work and is either expected to last for a year or longer or to result in death.
- Your impairment must either meet or exceed all of the requirements on the SSA’s listing of impairments (which is known as the “blue book”), or it must have other factors that equal a listed impairment.
- If your impairment does not meet or exceed these criteria, then it must prevent you from performing any of your past work.
- You must not be able to perform any other type of work, based on your condition, age, education, past work experience, and job skills.
Peripheral neuropathy is listed in the blue book under the section for neurological impairments. If you meet or exceed the listing for peripheral or diabetic neuropathy, then you may qualify for SSDI and/or SSI benefits. The listing requires proof of:
- Disorganization of motor function in two extremities, resulting in an extreme limitation in the ability to stand up from a seated position, balance while standing or walking, or use the upper extremities.
- Marked limitation in physical functioning, and in one of the following:
- Understanding, remembering, or applying information; or
- Interacting with others; or
- Concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace (see 11.00G3b(iii)); or
- Adapting or managing oneself (see 11.00G3b(iv)).
To prove that you meet or exceed this listing, you must provide medical evidence with your application for Social Security disability benefits. This may include tests that your treating physician ordered to diagnose you with peripheral or diabetic neuropathy, such as:
- Blood tests to detect conditions that can cause peripheral neuropathy;
- CT or MRI scans to detect compressed nerves, herniated disks, tumors, and other issues that may affect the blood vessels and bones;
- Electromyography (EMG) tests, which record the electrical activity in your muscles to determine nerve function;
- Nerve conduction studies
- Autonomic reflex screens, sensory tests, and/or sweat tests to check nerve function
- Nerve biopsy or skin biopsy
Even if you do not meet the blue book listing for this impairment, then you may still qualify for Social Security benefits if your peripheral neuropathy prevents you from working. The SSA will assess your residual functional capacity (RFC) to determine if there is any type of work that you can do given your symptoms and limitations.
For example, if your neuropathy makes it difficult for you to stand from a seated position, lift things, walk, or perform other basic tasks, then you may not be able to perform your job or any other type of work. In these cases, the key is to build evidence that demonstrates your inability to work due to your peripheral neuropathy and any other condition that may have caused the damage to your peripheral nerves, such as diabetes.
If the SSA finds that you can perform your past work or other sedentary work despite your neuropathy symptoms, then your application for disability benefits may be denied. If your application is denied, you may be able to appeal the decision with the assistance of an experienced New Jersey disability lawyer.
How Our Law Firm Can Help
If you have been diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy or another type of neuropathy, you may be entitled to SSDI and/or SSI if you meet the Social Security blue book listing or if you are unable to work due to your symptoms. Even if you are experiencing severe symptoms, being approved for Social Security disability can be difficult. Our team of experienced disability attorneys can help.
Bross & Frankel represents people throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania to help them get the disability benefits that they need. We have substantial experience representing individuals before the Social Security Administration, from filing an initial application to appealing a denial of benefits. To learn more about how we can help you or to schedule a free claim review, call our office today at (866) 694-7952 or contact us online.
Can I Automatically Qualify for Social Security Disability for Neuropathy?
Yes. It is possible to get automatic approval for SSDI and/or SSI benefits if you meet the blue book listing for peripheral neuropathy. If you meet or exceed these criteria, then you will not have to prove that your neuropathy prevents you from performing either your past work or any other work in the national economy.
Importantly, an “automatic” qualification does not mean that you don’t have to prove anything to the SSA. You still have to provide proof that you cannot engage in substantial gainful activity, that your disability is expected to last 12 months or longer, and that you meet the blue book criteria. Contact Bross & Frankel today to talk to an experienced New Jersey disability benefits attorney about your claim.
Can I Include Evidence of Other Impairments in My Application for Social Security Disability for Neuropathy?
Yes. Many people who are disabled do not have a single medical condition. They often suffer from a combination of medical conditions. This is often the case with neuropathy, which is typically caused by another medical issue. You can and should include all relevant medical evidence to support your application for disability benefits.
It can be hard to determine what medical evidence is relevant if you don’t understand how the SSA process works. Our law firm can help. Give Bross & Frankel a call to schedule a free initial consultation with a New Jersey disability benefits lawyer.