Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Postherpetic Neuralgia

According to the Mayo Clinic, postherpetic neuralgia (“PHN”), which is a complication of shingles, is a painful condition that affects the nerve fibers and skin. The burning pain associated with PHN can be severe enough to interfere with sleep and appetite. The risk of PHN increases with age, primarily affecting people over the age of 60. The Mayo Clinic points out that effective treatment of PHN is difficult, and the pain can last for months or even years.

Six weeks ago, a 55 year old former vendor management specialist with PHN asked me to take over her Social Security Disability (“SSD”) case from one of those local law firms that advertises on television. I received a decision today approving her SSD benefits.

I secured a report from the claimant’s neurologist, who specialized in pain management, describing how the pain resulting from the PHN limited her ability to function. I also explained why the doctor from Industrial Medicine Associates (“IMA”) lacked the qualifications for assessing the claimant’s PHN. The decision approving SSD benefits gave greater weight to the treating doctor because the IMA doctor’s opinion was found inconsistent with the claimant’s consistent complaints of pain for which numerous pain medications had been provided.

Establishing entitlement to disability benefits for PHN not only requires the treating specialist to explain why the disease prevents the patient from being able to work, but also requires rebutting the negative evidence in the claim file.

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