Some people might experience Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, which can result in the person having weaker muscles that cause difficulties with walking and even strange sensations because of nerve damage. Anyone who is having difficulties with walking and other physical activities because of this condition should learn about what kinds of financial disability benefits they can receive through the Social Security Administration. If a person comes to a point when they can no longer work, they’ll need the financial assistance that the SSA can provide.
What is Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease?
Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease is actually a group of diseases that can damage the nerves. Most of the damage is going to be located in the legs and arms. Because of this nerve damage, people often have weaker muscles, loss of sensation, and difficulties walking. It’s also common for people to have hammertoes, high arches, and other foot deformities. Most often, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease first appears when a person is in adolescence or early adulthood, but some people might not fully begin to experience the symptoms until they are middle-aged.
Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease is hereditary, and it’s actually a mutation of the regular genes. The mutations cause damage to the nerves or the myelin sheath, which is a protective coating around the nerves that prevents damage to nerves in healthy individuals. Regardless of what caused the damage to the nerves, neural messages will be weaker between the brain and the limbs.
People are most likely to develop Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease if they have an immediate family member who also has the disease. Additionally, some other diseases can make the symptoms of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease even worse. For instance, diabetes is one such disease that can make the symptoms more pronounced.
Additionally, some medications, including some that are used to treat cancer, can make the symptoms worse. For instance, vincristine and paclitaxel are two drugs that can increase the experience of symptoms.
Symptoms of Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease
Symptoms of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease tend to present themselves in the feet, ankles, and legs, but they can also move into the hands. For instance, some people will experience weakness in their feet, legs, and ankles. This weakness is caused by an actual loss of muscle. High arches in the feet and curled toes, often called hammertoes, are also common. While there are plenty of people with scoliosis who don’t have Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, scoliosis is much more common in people who do have Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease.
There will also be more likely to have discomfort and pain in the hands and feet, and they might experience tingling, burning, or difficulties experiencing temperatures. In addition to certain physical deformities and limitations, there will also be limitations in the types of activities that a person is able to do and to what intensity and degree they’ll be able to do them. For instance, some people will have a decreased running ability, and they might also have difficulties lifting their foot and ankle.
They might also be more prone to tripping and falling due to decreased sensation in the legs and feet. People are also more prone to falling because the feet might not get the neural signal that should cause them to contract, which is necessary for balance.
Treatments for Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease
While there isn’t a cure for Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, it doesn’t typically affect lifespan, and there are treatments that can delay progression and make the condition more bearable. Some people with this condition might get medications to control the pain.
Therapy is a type of treatment that can help people struggling with everyday activities. For instance, physical therapy can be used to stretch and strengthen the muscles. When people start physical therapy early on in their experience of the disease, they are more likely to be able to avoid disability in the long run.
Occupational therapy is a type of treatment where the person learns how to use assistive devices, including rubber grips on doorknobs and shirts with snacks instead of bones. Some people might also need orthopedic devices. For instance, some orthopedic devices can help people maintain their mobility and even prevent injury.
Additionally, there are certain things that a person with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease can do on their own. For instance, stretching regularly should be part of a person’s plan to reduce stiffness and help improve range of motion. This stretching technique can also reduce joint deformities. Additionally, people with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease should exercise daily. Some of the best exercises for people with this disease include biking and swimming because they are less stressful on muscles and joints that are already weak or fragile.
People should also inspect their feet regularly and take care of their nails to avoid complications with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease. Because the feet aren’t always receiving all of the neural information that they should be, it’s important for people with this disease to check their feet regularly to find any ulcers, calluses, wounds, and infections that might be there. Additionally, they should take care of their toenails to prevent ingrown toenails and infections. There should also be efforts made to find the right shoes to wear, which will often include a pair of hightops or other types of shoes that can provide ankle support.
Disability Benefits for Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease
Some people with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease suffer from symptoms that are severe enough that they are unable to go to work. Anyone who has suffered from symptoms that have prevented them from working for at least a year should know that they can apply for Social Security Administration disability benefits.
There are two ways of qualifying for benefits through the Social Security Administration. To meet the misting in the Blue Book, the person should apply under the peripheral neuropathy the listing. To meet the criteria under this listing, the applicant must show that they have problems that are severe and ongoing in at least two limbs. Additionally, it has to cause chronic difficulties with walking getting up from sitting and standing. Otherwise, if it’s the hands that are affected, a person must have difficulties doing activities like typing, writing, lifting, reaching overhead, or tying shoelaces. To give evidence to this claim, a doctor must given a statement along with a neurologist about the person’s ability to stand or walk, do everyday activities like shopping, hygiene, and housework.
Additionally, people who are denied benefits but have a worsening of symptoms should reapply because it’s very common for symptoms to get worse over time.
Another option is to apply using the residual-functional capacity test. This test will look at all of the limitations that the doctor or neurologist finds and compare them with the types of jobs that the applicant has done in the past. If they have no jobs that they’ve done in previous years that they can currently do, it’s much more likely that the applicant will receive benefits.
How We Can Help
There are several ways in which the team at Osterhout Berger Disability Law can help you receive the benefit you deserve. We help individuals who need to…
- Apply for Social Security Benefits and want to ensure everything is done right the first time
- Appeal a denial of Social Security Disability Benefits
- Appeal an existing denial of Long Term Disability (LTD) Benefits
If you are facing one of these situations due to Charcot-Marie Tooth Disease (CMT), please do not hesitate in reaching out. Our team of experienced attorneys are here to help, and your consultation is free.