According to the Mayo Clinic, peripheral neuropathy is the result of damage to the peripheral nerves. It can cause weakness, numbness, and pain, usually in the hands and feet, but can affect other areas of the body as well. People with peripheral neuropathy generally experience pain and tingling sensations. Peripheral neuropathy can result from traumatic injuries, infections, metabolic problems, inherited causes, and exposure to toxins. However, the most common cause is diabetes.
If peripheral neuropathy is limiting your ability to function and preventing you from working, you may be eligible for disability benefits.
The Social Security regulations enumerate a number of medical disorders for which an individual may qualify for disability benefits. These are known as the Listed Impairments or “Listings”. Peripheral neuropathy is currently listed under the umbrella of the Neurological Disorders category of impairments. The fact that peripheral neuropathy is specifically listed as a qualifying impairment does not mean that the diagnosis by itself entitles an individual to benefits. The listing establishes specific clinical findings that must be made in order to satisfy the Listing. They are as follows:
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:
- Understanding, remembering, or applying information (see 11.00G3b(i)); or
- Interacting with others (see 11.00G3b(ii)); or
- Concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace (see 11.00G3b(iii)); or
- Adapting or managing oneself (see 11.00G3b(iv)).
The broader section of the Listing regulations on neurologic disorders provides context and definition of terms discussed within the above criteria.
Meeting the requirements of the Listing is not that only way that an individual suffering from peripheral neuropathy may be approved for benefits. Medical evidence of peripheral neuropathy or of an underlying condition (i.e. diabetes) producing neuropathy symptoms, along with medical evidence and testimony that supports serious physical limitations, can also be used to show that you are unable to work.
Working with a dedicated Social Security disability law firm can help you maximize your chances of prevailing on a claim for disability benefits for peripheral neuropathy.