Diabetic neuropathy is a specific medical diagnosis possibly leading to an allowance for Social Security disability benefits. Depending on the severity of the condition and how the diabetes and associated neuropathy affects someone's ability to work will determine eligibility for benefits. Although diabetic neuropathy is not a guarantee for an immediate allowance for Social Security disability benefits, such a diagnosis is one of the more prevalent conditions claimants present that result in an approved claim.
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Diabetic neuropathy is a serious and irreversible condition with today's medical knowledge. Patients with the condition are counselled to expect eventual loss of toes, fingers, feet, hands, legs and arms as the neuropathy progresses through the body. If a claimant asking for disability has had half his foot amputated, this will result in an immediate allowance for benefits. Losing a toe, however, may not be enough for allowance. It's a gruesome consideration but yes, Social Security considers what is lost and how much before determining immediate eligibility for disability benefits.
Ability to Work
Even if the patient has not had an amputation, other factors will be assessed to determine disability benefits. This is the patient's ability to continue working with the condition. If a diabetic patient is compliant with a drug regimen, follows doctors orders and yet is still unable to perform work under normal conditions, disability may be allowed. This is considered the patient's residual functional capacity, or RFC. This is what someone can do after all considerations for the diagnosis are taken into account.
Ability to Do Other Work
Social Security does not allow disability benefits if someone is no longer able to do a specific job. Social Security will allow benefits if someone cannot work. This is an important distinction. Social Security considers whether a patient can be retrained to do less physical work. All this is determined by assessing the patient's RFC.
Another factor Social Security assesses is a patient's education. No matter the diagnosis, a patient's education will affect the RFC. In other words, someone's ability to do other work is affected by the education and ability to be retrained to do other work. When assessing a patient's condition, the medical, vocational and education aspects are all considered in determining whether or not the patient is disabled from working.
Patients applying for Social Security disability with diabetic neuropathy should not be discouraged if the initial claim is denied. Because of the progressive nature of the disease, a diagnosis can change quickly. Even if the medical evidence initially examined determines the patient can still work, new evidence produced in the subsequent weeks or months may result in a new determination of disability. If you are denied benefits, do not hesitate to appeal the decision. This may be a lengthy process involving many months--and in some cases a year or more--but the end result can be significant financial benefits.
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