Peripheral neuropathy, also called peripheral neuritis, occurs from damage to your nerves outside your central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord). Your neuropathy could also qualify you for disability benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA) if you can’t work or handle daily activities on your own because of it.
So you can better understand whether your condition may qualify, we’ll explain how the SSA evaluates peripheral neuropathy and what next steps you should take to apply for benefits.
Yes, peripheral neuropathy is a disability according to the SSA, as long as your symptoms or treatments keep you from being able to work. Peripheral neuropathy is also a possible symptom for other disabilities that the SSA recognizes.
The most common cause of peripheral neuropathy is diabetes (another condition that can qualify you for disability), but it can be the result of numerous conditions, such as infections, injuries, or exposure to toxins. It may also be a genetic condition or one that you acquire later in life.
In terms of symptoms, you will likely experience weakness, numbness, and pain in parts of your body. Symptoms in the hands and feet are common but may be present elsewhere.
If your neuropathy affects your motor nerves, you may experience significant pain while walking, painful cramps, or muscle twitches. When sensory nerves are damaged, otherwise light skin contact could be painful — especially at night. If your autonomic nerves are impacted, your neuropathy may lead to issues with your blood circulation, digestion, breathing, or urination.
Related: What Conditions Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits?
Yes, you can qualify for disability with peripheral neuropathy. However, a diagnosis from your doctor isn’t enough. The SSA will need to see clear evidence that your neuropathy is so severe that it keeps you from being able to work a job.
You can also qualify for benefits with other conditions that you may experience alongside your neuropathy, namely diabetes. (Learn more about how to get disability with diabetes.)
To qualify for disability with peripheral neuropathy, you must show the SSA medical and nonmedical evidence that your condition gets in the way of your ability to work or hold a job.
Below are examples of questions the SSA will use to determine if you qualify for peripheral neuropathy disability. If you answer yes to these questions, you may qualify for disability benefits:
Unsure if your neuropathy is enough to get you approved for benefits? The easiest way to tell is to fill out our free eligibility quiz. If it does look like you could qualify, we can also match you with a disability lawyer who can help you apply for benefits with peripheral neuropathy.
Does it sound like your peripheral neuropathy could meet the SSA criteria? The next step is to apply for benefits.
The easiest way to fill out your disability application is by working with a disability lawyer. They’ll be able to complete the application in a way that resonates with the SSA while answering any questions you have. To get matched with a qualified lawyer (for free) fill out our 2-minute Social Security quiz. (Our services are always free and you’ll only ever pay the lawyer if you win your case.)
If you would rather start the application on your own, Atticus can help you with that too. Try our line-by-line breakdown of the disability application, which includes advice and tips from our team of lawyers.
There are two types of Social Security disability benefits: SSDI and SSI.
SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) is an option if you worked and paid taxes for years — usually for five or more of the past 10 years. SSI (Supplemental Security Income) is an option for people who have little to no income, savings, or other assets. SSI is also an options for people without much recent work history.
It’s also possible to get both programs at the same time. For some people the best option is actually to apply for SSDI and SSI together.
The average Social Security disability check for someone diagnosed with a disease of the nervous system like peripheral neuropathy is $1,420.62 per month.
Exactly how much you get will depend on your work or income history. In 2023, the maximum possible benefit for SSDI is about $3,600 per month. For SSI, the average monthly benefit is $914 per month. Those maximum amounts are set by law and your exact condition will change how much you get.
To learn more about how much your personal disability check will be, here’s our guide to how much people make on disability.
Not sure that your peripheral neuropathy meets the criteria to qualify? Consider applying for benefits anyway.
It’s possible your application will be denied, but it’s worth noting that less than one-quarter of all initial applications are approved. After that first denial, you’ll have the chance to appeal and eventually present your case in front of a judge. Of people who make it to the hearing state, more than half get approved for Social Security disability.
Having a disability lawyer to help with your application can also increase your chances. Applicants with lawyers are three times more likely to win benefits. (Learn more about how a lawyer can help you.)
If you need other assistance in the near term — like help with finances or getting affordable housing — we’ve collected some state and federal resources for people with disabilities.
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