Charcot’s Foot Social Security Disability Benefits

Charcot’s Foot is a disabling condition that can cause severe and debilitating pain for those who suffer from it. It can drastically reduce mobility, making it difficult or impossible to stand or walk. Fortunately, there are social security disability benefits available to help those with Charcot’s Foot manage their condition and alleviate the stress of financial hardship. 

With the proper documentation and legal representation, individuals with Charcot’s Foot can receive support to cover the costs of medical care, living expenses, and other needs. This guide provides an overview of the social security disability benefits available for those with Charcot’s Foot. It outlines the application process, eligibility criteria, and potential benefits that may be available.

What is Charcot’s foot?

Charcot’s foot is a serious joint disease that attacks the bones, joints, and soft tissue in the feet. This condition is rare, but serious, and may affect people with peripheral neuropathy. Peripheral neuropathy is a common condition for those with diabetes, but may also occur with people who have a spinal cord disease or injury, Parkinson’s disease, or HIV.

In cases with those who have diabetes, the interaction of sensory-motor neuropathy, autonomic neuropathy, trauma, and metabolic abnormalities of the bone, results in an acute localized inflammatory condition. This can lead to patterns of bone destruction, dislocation, subluxation, and deformity. 

In the early stages of Charcot’s foot, the foot is red, feels warm to the touch, and has substantial swelling of the extremity.  As the bones begin to get weaker, they can break and move out of place.

What causes Charcot’s foot?

While there is not one primary cause of Charcot’s foot, some events can act as triggers for the condition. For example, an unrecognized sprain or injury can go unnoticed by the person if they have peripheral neuropathy and cannot feel pain in their foot. 

Additionally, Charcot may occur as a complication after organ transplantation in people with diabetes, since drugs preventing organ rejection can also lead to fractures and bone loss.

What happens in Charcot’s foot?

A rocker bottom foot deformity occurs when the bones weaken and break, causing the foot to lose its shape. The arch in the middle of the foot will drop, and depending on where the bone fracture is located, toes may begin to curve underfoot. Additionally, ankle stability may be compromised.

How is Charcot’s foot treated?

Treatment for Charcot’s feet is aimed at offloading the foot, treating the bone disease, and preventing further foot fractures. At the acute active stage of Charcot’s foot, the most important strategy to manage progression is to offload the foot. Often the foot is immobilized in an irremovable total contact cast. This is initially replaced at 3 days and then checked on a weekly basis. The cast is frequently changed while the edema subsides.

People with Charcot’s foot need to avoid placing any weight on the affected foot by using crutches, a wheelchair, or a scooter. They are more fragile and run the risk of falling and fracturing bones. Total contact casts can also cause impractical stress patterns that then lead to ulcerations and fractures.

Can I receive social disability benefits for Charcot’s foot?

If you are unable to perform work activity for at least one year and have worked and paid taxes on your income for at least five of the past ten years, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits.

Social Security Disability Insurance is a federally administered program that provides income for people who have sufficient work credits and are unable to work due to a medical condition that lasts or is expected to last for at least one year. If your symptoms and treatment related to Charcot’s foot have caused you to stop working, Social Security Disability Insurance benefits may be available to assist you with monthly income and Medicare insurance coverage.

How does Social Security evaluate my claim?

Social Security uses a five-step process to determine whether someone is considered to be disabled and entitled to benefits.

Confirm your working disability

Social Security will confirm that you are no longer working or engaged in “substantial gainful activity.” Social Security allows very limited part-time work with earnings falling below their allowable threshold, which adjusts on an annual basis. In 2023, the maximum monthly income permitted from work activity will increase to $1,470. Note that this is the total gross, not take-home, earnings that are permitted.

Severe impairment diagnosis

This determination will be made based on the medical records in the file. Social Security will send you various forms regarding your functioning, activities of daily living, and pain symptoms. They may also send function reports to other third parties such as family members, which they can complete regarding your level of functioning. 

The reviewed medical records will include doctor visit notes, imaging reports, surgical reports, and any hospitalization records. Also considered will be whether or not a doctor recommends that you use an assistive device, which includes a walker, wheelchair, or scooter.

Residual functional capacity determination

Social Security will determine your residual functional capacity based on the medical records in your file. Your residual functional capacity is your ability to do certain work-related activities such as stand, walk, sit, lift, carry, kneel, stoop, crouch, or crawl. 

Working capacity

According to Social Security’s standards, it is critical for those with Charcot’s foot to be able to stand for at least two out of the eight hours they are working in a day. Therefore, it is helpful if your treating doctors such as podiatrists provide strong statements and recommendations regarding these types of activities. For example, if your doctor states that you should avoid weight bearing on your affected foot, then this statement should be clearly written in medical records, or included in a medical source statement.

Previous Employment

Social Security will review your residual functional capacity and determine whether you can perform your past work with the limitations they assess. If you are not able to do your past work, Social Security will determine if there is other work you can do. If there is no work you can perform, you will be found disabled.

LaBovick Law Group is here to help

Applying for Social Security disability benefits is overwhelming. If you are suffering from Charcot’s foot and struggling with work activity, call LaBovick Law Group at (561) 625-8400. Our team is ready to assist you with obtaining the benefits you need.

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