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Facts about Morton's Neuroma and Filing for Disability

How to prove you are disabled
and win disability benefits

1) Mortonís neuroma is a nerve tissue disorder characterized by a thickening of the nerve tissues or fibrous tissue formation around the nerves between the third and forth toes. While some doctors refer to the nerve tissue as a perineural fibroma, some doctors call it a benign, or noncancerous, tumor.

2) The condition is also referred to as intermetatarsal neuroma, plantar neuroma, Morton's metatarsalgia and Morton's neuralgia.

3) Symptoms include pain, stinging, burning, and numbness in the toes and ball of the foot.

4) The condition usually develops in response to a foot injury, undo pressure on the foot, or irritation to the foot, oftentimes caused by wearing shoes that are too tight or too small, abnormal foot movements caused by flatfeet or bunions, repetitive foot movements, or athletic activities that put pressure and strain on the foot, such as jumping or jogging.

5) Many times the numbness, pain and tingling felt in the toes can be remedied by simply removing your shoes, changing shoes, or using arch supports.

6) The numbness and pain is usually short lasting and can be remedied easily, though some cases will require over-the-counter medications for pain, or corticosteroid injections to reduce inflammation. In extreme cases, surgery may be a viable option.

7) Although a new therapy for Mortonís neuroma that is not highly performed and accepted worldwide, alcohol injections have proven in studies to help reduce pain associated with Mortonís neuroma, and shrink fibrous tissue formations. Treatment has been shown to be promising, and positive studies have been published on alcohol injections in major medical journals, such as the Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association and the American Journal of Roentgenology.

8) In severe cases of the condition, surgery to remove fibrous tissue growths is used. Unfortunately, this surgery not only removes the painful neuroma, but it also removes the nerve, which eliminates pain but can result in permanent numbness.

Can you qualify for disability benefits with this condition?

Whether or not you qualify for disability and, as a result, are approved for disability benefits will depend entirely on the information obtained from your medical records. This includes whatever statements may have been obtained from your treating physician (a doctor who has a history of treating your condition and is, therefore, qualified to comment as to your condition and prognosis).

It will also depend on the information obtained from your vocational, or work, history if you are an adult, or academic records if you are a minor-age child. The important thing to keep in mind is that the social security administration does not award benefits based on simply having a condition, but, instead, will base an approval or denial on the extent to which a condition causes functional limitations. Functional limitations can be great enough to make work activity not possible (or, for a child, make it impossible to engage in age-appropriate activities).

Why are so many disability cases lost at the disability application and reconsideration appeal levels?

Speaking as a former Disability Claims Examiner, I can state that there are several reasons:

1) Social Security makes no attempt to obtain a statement from a claimant's treating physician. By contrast, at the hearing level, a claimant and his or her disability attorney will generally obtain and present this type of statement to a judge;

2) Prior to the hearing level, a claimant will not have the opportunity to explain how their condition limits them, nor will their attorney or representative have the opportunity to make a presentation based on the evidence of the case. At the hearing level, of course, this is exactly what happens. And a number of disability representatives will also take such steps even earlier, at the reconsideration appeal level;

3) Disability judges, unlike disability examiners who decides cases at the first two levels of the system, can make independent decisions without being overturned by immediate supervisors--which happens frequently.

Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions

Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions

Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The Disability Decision Process and What gets taken into Consideration | Getting Denied for Disability Benefits | Questions about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | Social Security Disability Hearings | Social Security Medical Examinations | Social Security SSI Doctors | Social Security Disability Representation | Social Security Disability SSI Reviews