You may be eligible for the Social Security Disability Insurance Program (SSDI) if you have debilitating peripheral neuropathy. The program benefits those who cannot work due to a disability. However, since the severity of symptoms can vary greatly, some applicants may have difficulty proving their case to the Social Security Administration (SSA).
With that in mind, it may be beneficial to discuss your situation with an Ohio disability attorney who understands the condition and can properly evaluate your specific case. They can also help you compile relevant evidence and navigate the complicated application process. Likewise, should the SSA deny your disability claim, an attorney can assist you in filing for reconsideration or appealing the decision.
Neuropathy impacts nearly 20 million people across the US. As such, the SSA has established specific eligibility criteria for the condition. To qualify for SSDI, applicants must meet both medical and non-medical requirements. Let’s outline each of these.
1. Medical Evidence
Peripheral neuropathy is an ailment affecting the nerves surrounding the brain and spine. Nerve damage can impede other bodily functions such as circulation, digestion, and sight. Symptoms can also range from numbness to paralysis – depending on the damaged nerve group.
The Blue Book, a listing of disabling impairments, details the medical requirements for neuropathy. Generally, the SSA examines an applicant’s medical records to determine if the damage to their peripheral nerves has resulted in the following:
- Significant and persistent pain
- Muscle weakness
- Loss of coordination
- Reduced sensation or numbness
Your physician can help you review the Blue Book to determine whether your condition qualifies for disability benefits. Similarly, a knowledgeable legal professional can interpret complex regulations and determine if your condition meets the necessary criteria. That aside, the Blue Book outlines two stands your symptoms must qualify, namely:
- A motor neuropathy impairing at least two limbs and interfering with movement, balancing, standing, walking, lifting, and carrying.
- The inability to function physically – for instance, neuropathy may impair your ability to remember vital information, concentrate, speak, or interact with family members or workmates. As such, you’re unlikely to complete routine tasks or maintain employment for extended periods.
Thus, you need to provide medical proof illustrating the severity of your condition and its impact on your ability to work for at least a year. Even so, such medical evidence doesn’t offer sufficient grounds for eligibility. The SSA requires you to meet other requirements, as the next section explains.
2. Non-Medical Requirements
You must also meet technical requirements to receive disability benefits. Generally, applicants must have worked and paid Social Security taxes for a certain number of years before becoming disabled.
You also need to demonstrate your current inability to work and that your condition is expected to last at least one year. Additionally, your age may affect your application assessment. For instance, if you’re over 50, the SSA determines disability eligibility more leniently, while younger applicants face stringent criteria.
The SSA might need certain financial documents to determine if you’re eligible. These may include income tax returns and earnings statements from your former employers.
How to Raise Your Odds of Eligibility
Can you enhance your chances of receiving disability benefits? Yes. First, you’ll need a comprehensive medical record outlining your diagnosis and prognosis. If you’re seeking Social Security Disability Insurance, you must prove that your condition renders you unable to work – a fact we cannot understate. To this end, here’re steps you can take:
- Get a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) test – this assessment helps document the impact of your impairment. For instance, the test documents your capacity to sit, walk, stand, lift, and remember information. A low RFC score implies you can’t perform daily tasks effectively or maintain employment. By extension, it supports your disability claim.
- Be proactive – if you think you’re eligible, apply for benefits ASAP. First-time applicants may face a long wait, so begin your application in time.
- Gather evidence – provide ample evidence to support your claim. This may include nerve tests, medical records, prescriptions, lab tests, motor-function tests, and medical imaging. While at it, ensure the information is up to date.
Your evidence should be based on acceptable sources such as a treating physician or psychologist. Your testimony alone won’t qualify you for benefits, and the SSA requires substantial medical proof documenting your disability to evaluate your eligibility objectively.
Long story short, peripheral neuropathy can qualify you for disability benefits. Nonetheless, you need the right plan of action and ample medical evidence to increase your chances of approval, not to mention the technical evidence. If this doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, or if the condition is too severe, consider consulting a Social Security advocate or attorney for guidance.