Nerve pain can arise from a variety of causes, including spinal cord impingement, diabetes (diabetic neuropathy) or from no specific cause (idiopathic nerve pain). In any case, chronic, unrelenting nerve pain often does not respond well to medications and generally there is no surgical option to relieve it.
Winning Arguments in Nerve Pain Social Security Disability Claims
Generally the best argument for disability in nerve pain cases relates to functional capacity. In other words, we need to prove that as a result of chronic pain and/or limitations on the use of muscles or limbs, my client does not have the capacity to perform the duties of even a simple, entry level, “warm body” type of job.
Ideally the medical record will contain treatment records from one or more physicians extending over many months or years. Under Social Security law, judges are required to accept the opinion of a long term treating physician over the opinion of a consulting or non-examining review physician, unless the judge can identify specific reasons not to assign controlling weight to the treating doctor.
Nerve conduction studies that show abnormal results will be considered persuasive evidence by most Social Security judges. This is the most objective type of evidence available. Abnormal MRI or CT scans that show radiculopathy will also be given great weight.
If a long time treating doctor will complete a functional capacity form setting out specific activity limitations, our case will be even stronger since Social Security judges are concerned more about activity limitations than medical issues themselves.
Problems to Avoid
We want to avoid any mention of drug seeking behavior or symptom exaggeration. You should cooperate fully with your doctor’s treatment plan and do not display an “attitude of entitlement” to your doctor.
Other Medical Issues Associated with Chronic Nerve Pain
Many nerve pain claimants also have to deal with medication side effects that include fatigue, mental fog and digestive upset. Further, claimants who experience chronic pain often become depressed at the relatively poor response to medications and uncertain long term prognosis. Psychological treatment for depression often adds another layer to the disability argument.
Nerve Pain Case Studies
Nerve Pain Case Study #1 – 48 year old man with chronic nerve pain in his lower legs and abnormal nerve conduction study. The claimant passed away from unrelated causes prior to the hearing.
Nerve Pain Case Study #2 – 50 y ear old males with spina bifida and multiple disc herniations
Nerve Pain Case Study #3 – 35 year old male with arm weakness, neck and lower back pain following a severe car accident
Nerve Pain Case Study #4 – 45 year old man with nerve pain arising from incompletely treated shoulder injury, complicated by diabetic neuropathy in his feet, bilaterally.