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Charcot Marie Tooth Social Security Disability Claims Lawyer

CaveyLaw.com > Charcot Marie Tooth Social Security Disability Claims Lawyer

Your Eligibility for SSD Benefits and Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease

The Social Security Administration (SSA) doesn’t make it easy for those with Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease to get the Social Security Disability Benefits they deserve.  Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease is a group of hereditary sensory and motor neuropathies that damage the peripheral nerves. Our firm handles Charcot Marie Tooth Social Security Disability Claims all over the state of Florida.

The damage to the peripheral nerves can cause muscle atrophy of the feet that can cause difficulty flexing the foot or walking and, as the disease worsens, the muscles in the lower legs weaken.

Additionally, the damage can cause weakness in the hands, decreased sensitivity to touch, heat, and cold in the lower legs and feet with aching and burning sensation.Charcot Marie Tooth Social Security Disability Claims

SSA is denying more initial claims and Request for Reconsideration claims than ever for Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease. That’s why you’ve made the wise decision to hire me to represent you in your Social Security Disability case.

The Social Security Administration uses a 5 Step Sequential Evaluation in evaluating every claim and it is important for you to understand this process.

The 5 Step Sequential Evaluation Process Used in Every Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease Claim

Step 1: Are You Working?

SSA will determine at Step 1 whether your Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease prevents you from working full-time earning less than $1,070.00 per month (gross). If you earn more than that, SSA will consider your employment to be Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) which will disqualify you for Social Security Disability benefits.

Step 2: Is Your Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease Severe?

Your Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease must be severe enough to significantly limit your ability to perform basic work activity and must be expected to last, or have lasted, for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.

Step 3: Does Your Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease Meet A Listed Impairment?

SSA has broken the body into 14 major systems or Listings in the Blue Book of Impairments. There are over 150 medical conditions that SSA considers severe enough to prevent a Social Security Disability applicant from working.  If the medical condition, which is the basis of the Social Security Disability application, meets a listing, SSA will automatically award benefits at Step 3.

It is very hard to get approved for Listing 11.14 Peripheral Neuropathy under the SSA’s “Listing of Impairments.”

SSA will review your medical records and look for the following:

  • The severity of the Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease,
  • Ongoing problems using two extremities (either both legs or an arm and a leg or both arms) that causes chronic difficulty with your ability to walk, stand or get up from a seated position or to use your arms and hands effectively.

If your medical records do not establish that you meet a Listing, SSA will determine if you Steps 4 and 5 of the 5 Step Sequential evaluation process by determining if you meet a medical-vocational allowance.

Step 4:  Can You Do the Lightest Job You Held in the 15 Years Before You Became Disabled?

The medical-vocational allowance is based on medical information about your residual functional capacity. The key to winning at Steps 4 and 5 is having your physician complete a physical Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) form that explains your functional capacity despite your Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease. SSA will compare your residual functional capacity against the functional requirements of the lightest job you did in the 15 years before you became disabled. We must prove you meet Step 4 and, if we do, the burden of proof shifts to SSA at Step 5. This where many cases are won or lost.

Step 5:  Can You Do Any Other Type of Work?

SSA determines what other work if any, you can perform in the national economy taking into consideration your age, education, work experience, and physical/mental capabilities.

SSA will first use the Grids, which are age-based to determine if your cognitive impairment or complications prevent you from doing other work. So, if you are:

Any Age: If your Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease has caused a physical or psychological impairment that prevents even simple unskilled work, you will be found disabled.  

Under Age 50: If your Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease prevents you from performing sedentary work (the ability to lift a maximum of 10 pounds at a time, sit six hours and occasionally walk and stand two hours per eight hour day) you will be found disabled. The effect of your pain, pain medication and flare-ups that impact your productivity is key.

Age 50 or older: If your Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease limits you to sedentary work and you have no transferable work-related skills, you will be found disabled.  

Over Age 60: If your Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease prevents you from performing your past relevant work at Step 4 you will likely be found disabled.

You probably won’t meet a Listing or the Grids. As a result, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will, at trial, give a vocational evaluator (VE) a hypothetical about your age, education, transferrable skills, and residual functional capacity to determine if there is other work you are capable of performing in the national economy.  Having your doctor document the basis of your diagnosis, the disabling physical and mental symptoms and comment on your functional abilities is crucial. We want to establish those symptoms which prevent you from doing even sedentary work.

As you will see, having a properly completed RFC form is crucial to winning your Charcot Marie Tooth Social Security Disability Claims !

We’ll talk about how SSA views cognitive impairment claims next!

What You Need to Know About How SSA Views Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease Social Security Disability Claims

Many Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease claims are denied at the Initial Application and Request for Reconsideration stages of the claims process because of the lack of medical evidence and poorly prepared Social Security papers.

You have made the wise decision to retain us to assist you in applying for Social Security Disability Benefits and filling out your disability claims forms. So, what do you need to know?

The Nature of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease and “Step 2: Is Your Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease Severe?”

At Step 2 of the Sequential evaluation, you must prove that your Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease is “severe.” This requires that you develop your functional limitations.

Your Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease must be severe enough to significantly limit your ability to perform basic work activity and must be expected to last, or have lasted, for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.

Keeping A Diary

One way to document the damage caused by or the complications of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease is to keep a diary of how your Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease affects your attendance at work, your productivity at work and at home, and modifications needed at work or home. This will document and make it easier to show a decline in your work abilities.

Documenting Your Symptoms

It is important that your medical records document your symptoms, the frequency, and duration of your symptoms and how those symptoms impact your ability to work. These symptoms can include difficulties with your feet and legs that cause problems with sitting, standing, walking, bending over, stooping, squatting or balancing.  As a result, you may not be able to do the wash, make beds, bathe or dress, go grocery shopping, or do other activities of daily living.

You may also have problems in your hands with weakness and numbness that makes it difficult to write, fasten buttons and turning doorknobs.

SSA will ask you to complete a form that describes your problems.  You probably have good days and a bad day. Document and describe your symptoms based on those ranges.

How SSA Views Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease and a Medical Listings

As I explained in Your Eligibility for SSD Benefits and Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease,” SSA does not have a pure Medical Listing in Step 3 for Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease. Your medical records are the key to establishing that you have Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease and symptoms that meet or equal the criteria for the applicable Listing.

Subjective complaints simply can’t be used to establish that you meet a Listing. The reality is that it is very difficult to establish that you meet a Listing.

SSA must-see medical evidence that meets the Listing or you will have to prove that you meet Steps 4 and 5 of the 5 Step Sequential Evaluation Process.

Claims examiners and the ALJ’s must perform an assessment of your medical records to determine your residual functional capacity. Bias can raise its head in this analysis.

Analysis Of Your Medical Records by the Claims Examiner and ALJ 

A claims examiner with SSA will review your Initial Application and Request for Reconsideration and your medical records to determine your residual functional capacity.  The claims examiner and the ALJ will look for:

  1. How long you have had symptoms,
  2. The nature of your symptoms,
  3. How your symptoms have progressed or changed over time,
  4. What you reported to your doctors about how your Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease and chronic venous insufficiency impact your activities and what you reported on your Social Security forms,
  5. The nature of your treatment and the response to the treatment,
  1. Side effects of medication,
  2.  The extent and nature of your symptoms with medication,
  3. Whether you have been seen by specialists for treatment of your symptoms, such as an orthopedist, neurosurgeon, neurologist or even a pain management doctor…

What Else Will the Claims Examiner or ALJ Want?

After your medical records, the next best piece of medical evidence is a Physical Residual Functional Capacity form (RFC) and, if you are depressed, a Mental RFC form completed by your doctors.

SSA may also request statements from friends, family members or former employers about your symptoms and how those symptoms impact your ability to function.

SSA Consultative Medical Examinations

If the claims examiner doesn’t think there is enough or sufficient medical information, you may be scheduled for a consultative examination. You will be seen by a doctor paid for by SSA who will report on the severity and duration of your Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease symptoms, your response to treatment, the side effects of medications and how the treatment impacts your ability to function. If you are set for a consultative examination to contact us immediately!

So What Happens If I Have A Medically Determinable Impairment in Step 3?

In the ideal world, you would be granted your Social Security Disability benefits under an applicable Listing or a combination of Listings. CMT also has valuable resources about the condition found here.

That doesn’t always happen and many claims go on to Steps 4 and 5 of the 5 Step Sequential Evaluation.

Claims Are Won or Lost at Steps 4 and 5!

The reality is that Charcot Marie Tooth Social Security Disability Claims are won and lost at Steps 4 and 5 based on the RFC form and your credibility.   I’ll talk about physical RFC forms next!