Neuropathy is any sort of nerve damage, and diabetic neuropathy is, according to the Mayo Clinic experts, “a type of nerve damage that can occur if you have diabetes. High blood sugar (glucose) can injure nerves throughout your body. Diabetic neuropathy most often damages nerves in your legs and feet.”
There are four types of diabetic neuropathy, and it is possible to have more than one. One of the less common is peripheral neuropathy, and it hits the feet and legs first, and then the hands and arms. It manifests as numbness and reduced feeling, pains or cramps, sensitivity to touch (and that is painful), and infections or ulcers in the feet.
Again, as the Mayo Clinic team notes, “diabetic neuropathy can be quite painful and disabling…[it] is a serious diabetes complication that may affect as many as 50% of people with diabetes.”
As is the case with so many conditions, neuropathy (including diabetic and peripheral) appears on the Social Security Administration’s list of qualified disabling conditions (known as the Blue Book). However, it has to impact you to such a degree of severity that it affects your ability to work. Neuropathy is too general, and it is usually when it is deemed peripheral neuropathy that it is noted for its severity and ability to leave the individual unable to work.
The Blue Book uses two listings associated with Peripheral Neuropathy, which are Section 9.08 and Section 11.14. The first looks at it as a condition associated with diabetes, and for it to be a disability, it must include symptoms such as paralysis, involuntary movement of arms or legs (affecting fine and gross motor movement), and more. When it is the latter, it too is going to have to be to such a severity that it causes tremors, ataxia, or difficulty walking or moving.
If you do not qualify, there is also the option for meeting disability criteria with something known as an RFC.
The RFC Form is a complex document that must be completed by a physician. It will have to itemize your physical limitations. For example, it asks how long you can sit or stand without having to reposition frequently. It may ask the physician to detail whether or not you can easily grasp certain items, whether you are on medications, if you are often dizzy or fatigued, and so on.
The RFC Form is a chance for you to document the ways that your neuropathy affects your ability to handle daily tasks as well as work duties. Your physician will have to be clear about the ways you are able or unable to work, and if you are going to be able to transition into another type of work. If it is diabetic neuropathy, a doctor can also discuss the issues associated with diabetes.