Is Neuropathy a Disability?

In the simplest terms, neuropathy refers to nerve damage. In practice, this can refer to a range of conditions, from a mild annoyance to debilitating pain that limits mobility. In addition to a wide range of symptoms, neuropathy can also have a range of causes, including relation to other conditions like diabetes or injuries you have suffered. If your neuropathy is severe enough to prevent you from functioning normally, you may struggle to work and make a living as needed. When this is true, you will need to seek assistance. So if you are undergoing neuropathy treatment, does that qualify as having a disability?

Working with Neuropathy

Some people will be able to work while suffering from neuropathy, depending on both the severity of their condition and the nature of their work. For those who work at a desk or in a sedentary environment, it may be more feasible to work, even with neuropathy pain. However, some people’s symptoms will make it difficult for them to sit for an extended period, type on a computer, or do other tasks required of them.

For those who work physically demanding jobs, it is even more likely that neuropathy will impact their productivity and mobility. Many symptoms of neuropathy can make this work difficult, particularly actions such as walking, bending, or lifting. Some people also experience touch sensitivity, which can make being bumped or jostled unbearable. Physical work can also worsen neuropathy symptoms.

If your symptoms are impacting your job, ask the doctor providing your neuropathy treatment to document your limitations very thoroughly in order to prove the impact has a medical basis.

Peripheral Neuropathy

In order to qualify as a disability through the Social Security Administration, both work and medical guidelines are set that neuropathy meets in some cases. Much of this depends on the type of neuropathy you have, with peripheral neuropathy being the most common.

Each worker has work credits, calculated by age and time worked. Each year you work can earn you up to four work credits; you must have 20 total credits to qualify for disability due to neuropathy.

Medical guidelines are more complex. Your neuropathy must be qualified in one of two categories if it is to be classified as peripheral neuropathy.

  • A disorganization of motor function in two or more extremities, leading to an extreme limitation in the ability to stand from a seated position, balance while standing or walking, or use the upper extremities.
  • Marked limitation in physical functioning and one of the following: understanding, remembering, or applying information; interacting with others; concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace; adapting or managing oneself.

If these are severe enough to keep you out of work for 12 months or more, this is considered a disability. However, you must also be able to show that the neuropathy is not a result of another condition that can be cured or controlled.

Diabetic Neuropathy

The most common condition associated with neuropathy is diabetes. When this is the case, qualifications for disability differ according to the SSA.

To qualify as having diabetic neuropathy, the symptoms must include tremors, paralysis, involuntary movement in two extremities, and impact to fine movements, including limitations walking or standing. If these symptoms impact your ability to work, you can still qualify for disability benefits.

One thing that may be considered in this case is the type of diabetes you have and your course of treatment. Type 1 diabetes, which can never be reversed, may be more likely to lead to disability qualification, as opposed to Type 2 diabetes which can be controlled and even cured in some cases.

Where to Start

If you believe you suffer from these conditions and are interested in disability qualification, the first thing you will need to do is find a reliable provider. Any neuropathy diagnosis or neuropathy treatment should be thoroughly documented in order to have the best chance of qualifying through the SSA. A skilled provider will know how to identify causes of neuropathy, treatments, and properly document the limitations you are facing due to the condition. Additionally, neuropathy treatment can bring you some relief in the time between onset and your ability to qualify for disability and stop working.