Peripheral neuropathy is a common medical condition that affects the nerves outside the central nervous system. The resulting symptoms such as tingling, numbness, muscle weakness, fatigue, and loss of coordination condition can lead to various types of disabilities, both short term and long term.
Below we will discuss obtaining short term disability and long term disability for peripheral neuropathy, what can cause peripheral neuropathy, how insurance companies evaluate peripheral neuropathy disability claims, what evidence can be submitted for a peripheral neuropathy disability claim, and how an experienced long term disability attorney like The Maddox Firm can help prove your peripheral neuropathy disability claim.
What Can Cause Peripheral Neuropathy?
Peripheral neuropathy is a term that describes disorder and damage to the peripheral nervous system, which can cause long term disability. Peripheral neuropathy is most often caused by diabetes. Peripheral neuropathy can also be caused certain medications or toxins, injury, viral infections, autoimmune diseases, bone marrow disorders and other health issues. In some cases, the exact cause of peripheral neuropathy may be unknown.
If you suspect that you or a loved one is suffering from peripheral neuropathy, it is important to seek medical advice as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential in minimizing symptoms and providing access to therapies that can improve quality of life.
How Does Peripheral Neuropathy Cause Disability?
For purposes of filing a disability insurance claim for peripheral neuropathy, your insurance company typically defines “disabled” as being unable to perform the material duties of your occupation due to your condition. Peripheral neuropathy can cause a range of symptoms severe enough to interfere with daily activities, including work.
Common disabling symptoms of peripheral neuropathy include:
Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet
Burning or sharp pain in the affected areas
Weakness or muscle atrophy
Sensitivity to touch or temperature changes
Loss of coordination or balance
Muscle cramps or spasms
Difficulty with fine motor skills
Loss of reflexes
Problems with urination
Problems with digestion, such as constipation or diarrhea
These symptoms often cause difficulty with walking, standing, or using your hands, making it hard or impossible to perform job duties that require physical functioning. Peripheral neuropathy can also cause balance problems and increase the risk of falls, which can result in injuries that further exacerbate the condition. In severe cases, peripheral neuropathy can cause muscle weakness, making it impossible to perform basic tasks such as lifting, gripping, or grasping. In addition, cognitive symptoms of peripheral neuropathy can impair your ability to concentrate for long periods of time, multi-task, or work efficiently.
If any of your peripheral neuropathy symptoms present with enough severity and frequency, you may qualify for short or long term disability benefits.
How Do Insurance Companies Evaluate Disability Claims for Peripheral Neuropathy?
When filing a disability claim for peripheral neuropathy, insurance companies will typically evaluate the severity of your condition and how it affects your ability to perform your job duties. Insurance companies will require detailed medical records, including diagnostic test results and physician notes, to support your claim. They may even require that you undergo an independent medical examination to assess the severity of your peripheral neuropathy and evaluate your ability to work.
Insurance companies will consider various factors when evaluating your peripheral neuropathy disability claim, such as:
The type and severity of your peripheral neuropathy
Evidence of the seriousness and frequency of your symptoms
Any treatments you have undergone
Your education, training, and work experience
Your job description and associated duties and responsibilities
Remember that your insurance company is looking to verify both that your peripheral neuropathy is medically documented and that these symptoms interfere with your ability to work in your own occupation.
There can be unique considerations for peripheral neuropathy short term disability or long term disability claims. One of the challenges that people with peripheral neuropathy face is that their symptoms may not be easily measurable or quantifiable through objective medical tests. This can make it difficult to provide the necessary medical evidence to support your disability claim. In addition, some insurance companies may not fully understand or appreciate the impact that peripheral neuropathy can have on your ability to work, which can lead to a denial of benefits.
Peripheral neuropathy symptoms can also be subjective, making it challenging to prove to an insurance company that you are genuinely unable to work. Symptoms such as pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness can be challenging to quantify, and the severity can vary from day-to-day, making it hard to maintain consistent documentation of your level of impairment.
If you have a pre-existing condition that contributed to the development of peripheral neuropathy, such as diabetes or kidney disease, your insurance company may also use this as a basis to deny your claim or reduce the benefits paid.
What Evidence Can I Submit for My Peripheral Neuropathy Disability Claim?
To support your disability claim for peripheral neuropathy, you will need to provide your insurance company both medical evidence of your peripheral neuropathy disability and vocational evidence that proves you cannot perform the duties of your occupation due to your condition.
Medical Evidence for Peripheral Neuropathy Disability
Your insurance company will require detailed medical records that document the diagnosis, symptoms, and treatment of your condition. This may include:
Diagnostic Testing: Several diagnostic tests can help support a peripheral neuropathy claim, including nerve conduction studies, electromyography (EMG), and imaging studies such as MRI, CT scans, or X-rays.
Clinical Examination: Physical and neurological examinations from your physicians can document the diagnosis of your peripheral neuropathy and establish the severity of your condition. During the examination, the doctor will evaluate your reflexes, muscle strength, sensation, and coordination.
Doctor’s Statement: A doctor's statement that outlines your work restrictions and limitations due to your peripheral neuropathy can be critical in supporting your disability claim. This statement should detail your physical and cognitive limitations that affect your ability to work, such as the inability to stand for prolonged periods or perform repetitive tasks.
Treatment Plan: Your insurance company will most likely require you be receiving appropriate treatment. A treatment plan that outlines your prescribed treatments and medications can be used as evidence to support a claim for disability benefits. This plan should include information about the effectiveness of the treatment and any medication side effects that may limit your ability to work.
Functional Capacity Evaluation: A Functional Capacity Evaluation (“FCE”) is a comprehensive assessment of your physical abilities, including strength, endurance, and range of motion. An FCE can provide objective evidence of your functional limitations due to your peripheral neuropathy and your ability to perform specific job duties.
Neuropsychological Evaluation: A neuropsychological evaluation is a comprehensive assessment of your cognitive and psychological functioning, and it can be used to provide objective evidence of your limitations caused by your peripheral neuropathy. Peripheral neuropathy can affect cognitive function, including memory, attention, and executive function. Additionally, the pain and discomfort associated with peripheral neuropathy can lead to depression, anxiety, and other psychological symptoms. A neuropsychological evaluation can help identify these cognitive and psychological symptoms and provide objective evidence of their impact on your ability to work.
Vocational Evidence for Peripheral Neuropathy Disability
To prove to your insurance company you cannot work due to your peripheral neuropathy, you may submit vocational evidence with your short term disability or long term disability claim. Vocational evidence demonstrates the material duties and responsibilities of your occupation that you cannot perform due to your peripheral neuropathy. Many times insurance companies do not fully understand what your occupation entails in terms of both physical and cognitive functioning.
Vocational evidence you may submit to your insurance company in support of your peripheral neuropathy short or long term disability claim includes:
Your resume: Your resume will include background on your education, training, job history, and current position.
Official job description: An official job description from your employer should outline your main duties and responsibilities.
Personal affidavit: You may consider writing a personal affidavit in support of your peripheral neuropathy claim. This affidavit should include details of your occupational responsibilities, including your day-to-day tasks and how the onset of your peripheral neuropathy has impeded your ability to perform these duties. An affidavit is an opportunity to address functions of your occupation that may not be included in your official job description.
Vocational Assessment: A vocational assessment is an analysis of your occupation done by a vocational expert. The vocational assessment contains a comprehensive appraisal of the physical and cognitive demands of your occupation. The vocational assessment can help identify any tasks that you are no longer able to perform due to your peripheral neuropathy symptoms.
Statements from your employer/co-worker(s): Additionally, you can submit statements from your employer or coworkers who can attest to the severity of your peripheral neuropathy symptoms and how they have impacted your ability to perform your job duties.
By gathering and presenting this evidence to your insurance company, you may increase your chances of a successful short or long term disability claim.
How Can The Maddox Firm Prove My Peripheral Neuropathy Disability Claim?
If you are filing, appealing, or litigating a short or long term disability claim for peripheral neuropathy, The Maddox Firm can help prove your claim.
The experienced team at The Maddox Firm has helped hundreds of clients win their short or long term disability benefits. We have extensive experience with neuropathy-related disability claims and understand what insurance companies are looking for in order to award benefits.
Here are a few of the ways The Maddox Firm can prove your peripheral neuropathy disability claim:
Examine Your Policy: Disability insurance policies hold the key to what your insurance company requires to approve short or long term disability benefits. The policy language can be confusing and complex. The Maddox Firm will examine your disability insurance policy and help you understand your insurance company’s requirements, such as the definition of disability, the elimination period, and the benefit amount. The Maddox Firm can also pinpoint any potential issues that may arise with your claim, such as pre-existing condition clauses.
Gathering and Organizing Medical Evidence: Objective medical evidence is one of the most important components of a successful short or long term disability claim. The Maddox Firm will request and obtain medical records on your behalf, and identify any weaknesses or red flags in the evidence.
Help You Obtain Additional Evidence: The Maddox Firm also coordinates with your treating providers for supplemental statements to support your claim. Insurance companies typically request a questionnaire from your doctor called an Attending Physician Statement (“APS”). The Maddox Firm will communicate with your physician to complete this form and ensure it is accurate and details all of the limitations and restrictions your peripheral neuropathy causes. We can also recommend you for additional testing if needed, such as the Functional Capacity Evaluation or Neuropsychological Evaluation. For additional vocational evidence, The Maddox Firm can also refer you to trusted vocational experts to conduct a vocational assessment.
Represent You in Appeals and Litigation: If your peripheral neuropathy short or long term disability claim is denied or terminated, The Maddox Firm can represent you in the appeals process and, if necessary, litigation. We will prepare a strong appeal that addresses the reasons for the denial and presents new evidence that supports your claim. In litigation, The Maddox Firm can file a lawsuit against your insurance company and represent you in court.
Whether you are looking for assistance in navigating the claims process, appealing a claim denial, or litigating a final adverse decision, The Maddox Firm can help with your peripheral neuropathy claim. The expert team at The Maddox Firm will examine your insurance policy, correspondence from your insurance company, medical records, and any other relevant documentation in order to give you personalized guidance on how we can help you win your peripheral neuropathy short and/or long term disability claim.
Contact us to help you file your claim, appeal, or litigation the right way.