Charcot Foot and Disability Benefits

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By Kimberly BishopOctober 22, 2023

This post discusses Charcot Foot and disability benefits. If Charcot Marie Tooth (CMT) Arthropathy is affecting your ability to work, read on for how SSA will evaluate your disability claim.

The Bishop Law Firm has represented clients in Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income claims in North Carolina since 2009. Call us today for a free case review or start online now.

Types of Social Security Disability Benefits

SSA offers two main types of benefits for the disabled. Each type of benefit has different qualifications and you must also be found disabled under SSA's Five Step Sequential Evaluation before you are entitled to either benefit (also read North Carolina Social Security Disability Lawyer).

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) is based on the credits from the work you have done in your life. You must be found disabled before your date last insured (DLI) to be found eligible for SSDI. Your DLI is calculated by counting your “quarters of coverage” from your earnings record. You must have 20 “quarters of coverage” of the last 40 quarters. Simply put, you must have worked 5 years of the last ten years (in general). In addition, Adult Disabled Children can be eligible for benefits off their parent’s account.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

SSI (Supplemental Security Income) is a need-based program and you must meet income/asset standards in addition to being found disabled under the five steps above. In 2024, SSI is $943.00 per month for an individual and $1,415 for an eligible couple. SSI will be reduced by 1/3 if you are receiving financial help from others. In NC, SSI recipients are also entitled to Medicaid.

SSI is also available for disabled children and is evaluated under a different standard than adults. Children must have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment or impairments (including emotional or learning problems) which result in marked and severe functional limitations, and the impairment(s) has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months or be expected to result in death. Child SSI terminates when the child turns 18. The claimant will then have to reapply and be evaluated under the above adult sequential evaluation.

What is Charcot Marie Tooth Disease (CMT)?

CMT is a foot deformity that arises from nerve damage (peripheral neuropathy) in the foot or ankle. Neuropathy is frequently associated with diabetes (diabetic neuropathy), but neuropathy can occur without diabetes as well. Neuropathy affects foot sensation which in turn increases the likelihood of injury. Via WebMD. In my clients with Charcot Foot Syndrome, they usually have sustained a foot or ankle injury that refuses to heal.

The Charcot process starts off as an inflammatory process at the injury site. Osteomyelitis (bone infection) can co-occur with Charcot but they are treated differently. Charcot Neuroarthropathy and Osteomyelitis both increase the risk of lower limb amputation.

The symptoms of Charcot foot begin as a warm, red, and swollen foot/ankle. Symptoms may or may not include pain with weight bearing due to loss of nerve sensation from neuropathy. The affected bone can undergo destruction, subluxation, dislocation, and eventually Charcot deformity. "Rocker bottom" foot (midfoot collapse) is the most common deformity. Via American Diabetes Association.

Testing can include an x-ray or MRI to look for bone deformity. Treatment depends on what stage of Charcot Foot you are in (acute or chronic). Immobilization/protection, drug therapy and surgery are all treatment options. Early diagnosis is helpful but misdiagnosis is common. Via NCBI and National Institutes of Health

Is Charcot Foot a disability?

The Social Security Administration can evaluate a claim for disability based on Charcot foot in different ways.  Unfortunately, SSA no longer has a listing specifically for diabetes, but SSA does have other listings that may apply to those with Charcot Marie Tooth Disease.

One possibility is Listing 1.18 Abnormality of a major joint(s) in any extremity). This listing (as most listings) is difficult to meet. It requires chronic pain or stiffness AND abnormal motion AND anatomical abnormality demonstrated on physical exam or imaging AND must be expected to last for a continuous period of 12 months AND a doctor must prescribe a walker or bilateral canes or bilateral crutches, or a wheeled and seated mobility device.

If you meet this listing, work has long since been an option for you.

Another possibility for approval is being found disabled on the Medical Vocational Guidelines(Grids).  If you are 50 years old or older and restricted to sedentary work due to your CMT, you may be found disabled based on the Grids.

I advise my clients not to worry about meeting a listing as they are most often very difficult to meet. If you are unable to work due to Charcot foot, file a claim for disability benefits as soon as possible. Waiting to apply may cause you to lose valuable benefits.

The Bishop Law Firm represents Social Security Disability clients in RaleighDurhamFayettevilleCary, Rocky MountWilsonSmithfieldLouisburgChapel HillRoanoke Rapids , Winston SalemGarner, GreensboroGreenville and surrounding areas in North Carolina. Call us today for a free case review, (919) 615-3095  or start online now.

Also read NC Social Security Disability Lawyer

This article is not intended as nor should be taken as medical advice. If you are having ankle problems or foot pain please seek medical treatment.

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