DO YOU QUALIFY FOR PERIPHERAL NEUROPATHY DISABILITY BENEFITS?
Peripheral neuropathy is a serious condition that can affect your ability to move, feel, and even breathe. Nerves transmit messages from the brain and spinal cord to other parts of the body. For example, when a peripheral nerve sends a message to your legs, you're able to walk or run.
The disability is the result of nerve damage due to a traumatic injury, vascular disease, tumors, or infections. Symptoms can be severe and impair your ability to work or prevent you from doing any work.
TYPES OF PERIPHERAL NEUROPATHY AND THEIR SYMPTOMS
There are two primary types of peripheral neuropathy, mononeuropathy which involves one nerve, and polyneuropathy which affects two or more nerves. Polyneuropathy is the more prevalent of the two types, but both types can cause severe symptoms and long-term disability. The symptoms an individual experiences with his or her disability depend primarily on the type of nerve that was damaged.
Damage to a sensory nerve interferes with your ability to feel things. For example, your sense of touch, sensitivity to temperature, or ability to feel pain, which can result in additional injuries. You may not realize you have your hand on a hot surface if a sensory nerve is damaged and it may cause a serious burn. Conversely, you could experience an increased sensation or an abnormal type of pain.
Motor nerves control muscle movements. Because peripheral neuropathy effects mainly the extremities, it can make it difficult for you to walk, talk, or hold an object. In the work environment, you may be unable to stand for an extended period of time, it could be difficult to communicate clearly with others, or difficult to lift things. Other symptoms include muscle twitches, slowed reflexes, and muscle atrophy (muscle degeneration).
Autonomic nerves control your body's involuntary functions. Damage to these nerves can be life-threatening and may require intensive care. Autonomic nerve damage can affect bladder control, regulation of blood pressure, heartbeat, breathing, or swallowing.
CAUSES OF PERIPHERAL NEUROPATHY
In addition to traumatic injury, peripheral neuropathy can be caused by the following types of injuries and diseases.
- Repetitive stress (carpal tunnels)
- Autoimmune disease (arthritis)
- Vascular disease
- Metabolic or endocrine disorders (diabetes)
- Kidney disorders (kidney failure)
- Infections (Lyme Disease)
- Exposure to toxic substances
TESTING TO DIAGNOSE PERIPHERAL NEUROPATHY
When you file for long-term disability benefits for peripheral neuropathy, the insurance company will want well-documented medical records of your symptoms and how they affect you. The results of your diagnostic tests are critical to the insurance company when they review your claim. Your case will be stronger if you have the following tests prior to submitting your long-term disability claim.
Diagnostic tests for peripheral neuropathy include:
- Electromyography (EMG)
- Nerve conduction study (NCV)
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Nerve or skin biopsy
TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR PERIPHERAL NEUROPATHY
Check the terms of your disability policy and make sure you have done or are doing everything you need to qualify for a disability benefit. The policy may require you to receive appropriate treatment and to demonstrate you are complying with your treatment plan. The insurance company considers treatment appropriate if it is provided by a qualified specialist, such as a neurologist.
Because there are numerous causes of peripheral neuropathy, the insurance company may want to see proof that you are receiving treatment for the underlying cause of the disorder. For example, if your neuropathy was caused by diabetes, they will want to see the treatment plan, the type of physician overseeing your treatment, and that you've complied with the treatment for diabetes. Depending on your disability, you may also have to demonstrate that you've considered a surgical solution for your neuropathy.
HOW PERIPHERAL NEUROPATHY PREVENTS YOU FROM WORKING
To receive peripheral neuropathy disability benefits, you must demonstrate that the symptoms are severe enough to severely inhibit or prevent you from working. Connect the dots for your insurance company. Describe your symptoms and how your symptoms prevent you from working. For example, if you have a physical job, and have motor neuropathy, it may be difficult for you to walk or carry objects. If you work in a facility with machinery, motor deficits could pose a danger to you or your coworkers.
Educate the insurance company about your personal experiences. Tell them the cause and symptoms of the disease and how the symptoms prevent you from working. Long-term disability benefits can help relieve financial stress and allow you to focus on wellness.