Facts about Morton's Neuroma and Filing for Disability
These selected pages answer some of the most basic, but also some of the most important, questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim for disability benefits.
Facts about the condition
1) Morton's 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 Morton's neuroma that is not highly performed and accepted worldwide, alcohol injections have proven in studies to help reduce pain associated with Morton's 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.
Qualifying 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 and treatment notes that 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 also includes discharge summaries from hospital stays, reports of imaging studies (such as xrays, MRIs, and CT scans) and lab panels (i.e. bloodwork) as well as reports from physical therapy.
In many disability claims, it may also include the results of a report issued by an independent physician who examines you at the request of the Social Security Administration.
Qualifying for SSD or SSI benefits 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. In the case of adults, your work history information will allow a disability examiner (examiners make decisions at the initial claim and reconsideration appeal levels, but not at the hearing level where a judges decides the outcome of the case) to A) classify your past work, B) determine the physical and mental demands of your past work, C) decide if you can go back to a past job, and D) whether or not you have the ability to switch to some type of other work.
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?
There are several reasons but here are just two:
1) Social Security makes no attempt to obtain a statement from a claimant's treating physician. By contrast, at the hearing level, a claimant's disability attorney or disability representative will generally obtain and present this type of statement to a judge.
Note: it is not enough for a doctor to simply state that their patient is disabled. To satisy Social Security's requirements, the physician must list in what ways and to what extent the individual is functionally limited. For this reason, many representatives and attorneys request that the physician fill out and sign a specialized medical source statement that captures the correct information. Solid Supporting statements from physicians easily make the difference between winning or losing a disability case at the hearing level.
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. This is because at the initial levels of the disability system, a disability examiner decides the case without meeting the claimant. The examiner may contact the claimant to gather information on activities of daily living and with regard to medical treatment or past jobs, but usually nothing more. At the hearing level, however, presenting an argument for approval based on medical evidence that has been obtained and submitted is exactly what happens.
About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.
Most popular topics on SSDRC.com
Social Security Disability in North Carolina
Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability
Tips to Prepare for Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI
Advice to Win SSD and SSI Benefit Claims
Social Security Disability SSI Questions
What is the difference between Social Security Disability and SSI?
How to get disability for depression
Getting disability for fibromyalgia
SSI disability for children with ADHD
What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?
Social Security Disability SSI Exam tips
More Social Security Disability SSI Questions
What makes you eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI?