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Social Security Disability Definitions

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Social Security Disability SSI Awards and Award Notices

Disability Lawyers and Hiring an Attorney

Social Security Disability SSI List of Conditions

What is considered a Disabling condition by Social Security?

Social Security Disability SSI and Medical Evidence

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Facts about Peripheral Neuropathy and Filing for Disability

1. Peripheral neuropathy refers to nerve damage in the peripheral nervous system, which means all nerves that are not in the spinal cord or brain. Most often this affects the feet, legs, hands and arms that causes sensations of numbness, tingling and pain. This damage may be due to nerve disease or side effects of other illnesses.

2. Peripheral neuropathy is often caused by diabetes, particularly in cases where there is damage to multiple nerves. Around half of all diabetics will develop neuropathy.

3. Infections like Lyme disease, shingles and hepatitis C may lead to nerve damage. Other causes include nerve trauma from an accident, injury or repetitive motions; vitamin deficiencies, particularly B vitamins, vitamin E and niacin; alcoholism, which generally leads to vitamin deficiency; poison exposure, such as to metals and medications like chemotherapy; tumors that press on nerves; inherited nerve disorders; and autoimmune diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

4. Even spending time on crutches or with a broken limb in a cast can lead to peripheral neuropathy.

5. Peripheral nerves are responsible for sensory feelings like heat, pain and touch, as well as muscle movement, and automatic functions like blood pressure, heart beat, digestion and bladder function.

6. Peripheral neuropathy begins gradually and only gets worse without treatment. Usually symptoms start in the feet and hands and move upwards to the legs and arms. These symptoms include tingling, numbness, weakness, and heightened sensitivity.

7. Eventually symptoms can become much worse, including burning or sharp pain, loss of coordination and muscle control, and bowel and bladder problems.

8. Prevention of peripheral neuropathy includes carefully managing any condition, such as those listed above in numbers 1 & 2, that puts you at risk. Everyone, with or without an underlying medical condition, can prevent nerve damage by eating a well-rounded and healthy diet and exercising regularly. In addition, try to avoid repetitive motion, cramped positions, toxic chemicals and excessive exposure or consumption of tobacco and alcohol.

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 and in these subsections:

Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI

These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

Filing for disability - How to file for SSD or SSI and the Information that is needed by Social Security
How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?
What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?
How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it
Social Security Disability SSI - Eligibility Requirements and Qualifications Criteria