- What is Peripheral Neuropathy?
- Is Peripheral Neuropathy a Disability?
- What Causes Peripheral Neuropathy?
- Proving Long-Term Disability for Peripheral Neuropathy
- Seeking Appropriate Treatment for Your Peripheral Neuropathy
- Proving How Your Neuropathy can Limit Your Ability to Work
- Can an Attorney Help Me Get Long-Term Disability for Peripheral Neuropathy?
Do You Have A Case?
Peripheral Neuropathy is a condition from damage to peripheral nerves. Your peripheral nerves are those beyond your brain and spinal cord. While this condition has a variety of causes, the most common sign is paresthesia or the tingling of the extremities. The symptoms of peripheral neuropathy can be severe enough to limit your ability to work. Additionally, as neuropathy can be a symptom of other debilitating conditions, it can be important to understand that it can also be a contributing factor to a larger disability claim.
What is Peripheral Neuropathy?
While the central nervous system includes the brain and spinal cord, the peripheral nervous system makes up the rest of the nerves that branch out throughout the body. The 2 systems working together help your body function. Everything from controlling motor movement to transmitting sensory information. However, nerve damage to the peripherals can cause neuropathy. In most cases, this comes in the form of muscle weakness, tingling, and pain. This condition can be painful and even debilitating for some individuals.
Is Peripheral Neuropathy a Disability?
Depending on the severity and frequency of your symptoms, Peripheral Neuropathy can be considered a disability. Generally, this will depend on the frequency, severity, and duration of your symptoms. It is common for neuropathy to affect more than one nerve. The level of disability one experiences may depend on the type(s) of nerves affected. There are 3 main types of nerves. These are the Motor, Sensory, and Autonomic nerves. Each type of nerve serves a different purpose in helping with bodily function. The below sections will discuss the importance of each nerve type, and what symptoms you may experience from damage to this nerve type. Depending on where and how your nerves were damaged, it is possible for more than one nerve type to be affected.
Motor Nerve Damage
Motor nerves help the body control the different muscle groups in the body. This allows you to have fine control over your motor skills. Damage to motor nerves can result in additional symptoms such as:
- Muscle twitching or spasms
- Muscular atrophy
- Difficulty with muscle movements (walking, talking, grabbing, etc.)
- Poor reflexes
- muscle weakness
Nerve damage to the motor nerves can prevent an individual from being able to properly walk, do work tasks, or communicate properly. If the damage is severe enough, an individual may have difficulty getting themselves to work.
Sensory Nerve Damage
The sensory nerves help you react to stimuli. This includes touch, pain, temperature, and more. Individuals with sensory nerve damage may not notice if they are touching a hot stove, for example. However, sensory nerve damage can also result in heightened pain in the affected areas, even if no stimuli trigger the pain. The extremities are most commonly affected by sensory nerve damage.
Autonomic Nerve Damage
Your autonomic nerves allow the brain to communicate with internal organ functions. These nerves usually operate automatically to help the body regulate the systems that keep your body functioning normally. When autonomic nerves are damaged, you may lose control of certain body functions. Symptoms can include, but are not limited to:
- Blood pressure changes
- Digestion issues
- Difficulty breathing
- Problems with swallowing
- Poor bladder/bowel control
- Heat intolerance
- Excessive sweating
- Inability to sweat
- Dizziness, nausea
Autonomic nerve damage is the most severe of the three. Depending on the severity of your autonomic nerve damage, you may need intensive or emergency care.
What Causes Peripheral Neuropathy?
There are a number of different ways to damage the nerves. It is possible to receive neuropathy through injury, disease, or other conditions. Some causes may include:
- Alcohol or Substance Abuse
- Autoimmune diseases (including Arthritis)
- Repetitive stress injuries
- Traumatic injuries (car accident, slip & fall, etc.)
- Metabolic/Endocrine disorders (such as Diabetes)
- Small vessel diseases (such as vasculitis)
- Kidney conditions (such as kidney failure)
- Infections (such as Lyme Disease)
Proving Long-Term Disability for Peripheral Neuropathy
In order to build a strong case for your disability claim for your peripheral neuropathy, the insurance company will need to see clinical signs of your condition. This includes documentation of your symptoms and diagnostic testing results. Additionally, you will need to show that you are receiving appropriate treatment for your condition.
Diagnostic Testing for Peripheral Neuropathy
There are a variety of different tests that can identify peripheral neuropathy. Each of these tests can be presented as objective evidence of your condition. These tests include
- Electromyography, or EMG test
- MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)
- Nerve biopsy
- Nerve conduction study
- Skin Biopsy
Your doctor will be better equipped to help you select which test(s) may be right for you. Taking one or more of these tests before filing for your long-term disability insurance claim can help solidify your case.
Seeking Appropriate Treatment for Your Peripheral Neuropathy
Proper treatment for your neuropathy can vary, but seeking out appropriate care is essential to your disability claim. Compliance with treatment is often a condition of long-term disability insurance benefits. Seeing a neurologist is generally an important aspect of proper treatment for peripheral neuropathy.
If your neuropathy is a symptom of a different condition, such as Diabetes or Lyme Disease, your insurance company will likely require you to seek treatment in maintaining your underlying conditions. This will be in addition to treating the neuropathy.
It is important to stick to recommended treatments and regimens set by your doctors while receiving your disability insurance benefits. This may include exploring medical or surgical options to treat your condition. This may include surgical decompression surgeries for pinched nerves, for example.
There may be additional care options to treat certain aspects of your condition, such as pain management treatments. Additionally, treatment options to help you with autonomic nerve damage, and the symptoms it causes.
Proving How Your Neuropathy can Limit Your Ability to Work
Generally, you need to prove that your condition limits your capacity for work in order to qualify for benefits. As such, your condition has to be severe or frequent enough to pose a real hindrance to your job performance.
Peripheral neuropathy can easily limit the physical requirements of jobs, as sitting, standing, walking, or lifting can prove difficult with nerve damage. You may not be physically able to stay standing for long periods of time because of muscle weakness or pain. Even prolonged sitting can lead to nerve pain. If your neuropathy affects your fine motor skills, you may not be able to effectively use a computer for work tasks.
Keep a record of how your condition limits your capabilities in the workplace, and discuss them with your doctor.
Can an Attorney Help Me Get Long-Term Disability for Peripheral Neuropathy?
If you are looking to file a long-term disability claim for your peripheral neuropathy, you should seek out an experienced attorney. At D’Agostino & Associates, we help people living with disabling conditions such as neuropathy file long-term disability claims. We help you through the process step by step to help you build a strong case. Our law team is here for you.
At D’Agostino & Associates, our team of lawyers can help you sort through all the details, understand what you are entitled to, and fight to get what you deserve. D’Agostino & Associates P.C. has offices in New York and New Jersey. Contact us, or call us at 1-888-245-2924 to schedule a free consultation with our attorneys.