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Home » Is Plantar Fasciitis a Disability? Exploring the Facts

Is Plantar Fasciitis a Disability? Exploring the Facts

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Imagine starting each day with the first step out of bed being a sharp reminder that your feet are not as they used to be. This is the reality for those suffering from plantar fasciitis, a condition characterized by the inflammation of the plantar fascia, the thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of your foot and connects your heel bone to your toes. For some, this condition goes beyond mere discomfort, impacting daily activities and quality of life to the point where one might wonder: Is plantar fasciitis a disability?

Defining Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is a condition characterized by the inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick band of connective tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot, from the heel bone to the toes. This inflammation can lead to intense pain, typically experienced in the heel area.

The pain is often described as a stabbing sensation, particularly severe with the first few steps taken in the morning or after long periods of rest. Over time, the pain may become more constant, affecting a person’s ability to walk or stand for extended periods.

The Causes and Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis can develop as a result of various factors, including overuse, improper footwear, or structural foot problems. Individuals who engage in activities that involve repetitive movements, such as running or standing for long periods, are at a higher risk of developing the condition. Excess weight, flat feet, and tight calf muscles can also contribute to the development of plantar fasciitis.

The primary symptom of plantar fasciitis is heel pain, particularly at the bottom of the foot. The pain is often most severe upon waking up or after long periods of rest, as the plantar fascia tightens during periods of inactivity. As individuals start to move, the fascia stretches, causing intense pain that can ease off with continued activity. However, in some cases, the pain may persist throughout the day, limiting a person’s mobility and overall quality of life.

plantar fascia pain

Connection between Plantar Fasciitis and Disability

While plantar fasciitis itself may not immediately come to mind when thinking about disabilities, severe cases of the condition can have a significant impact on an individual’s ability to work and carry out daily activities. Chronic pain, mobility limitations, and the potential need for specialized medical treatment can make plantar fasciitis a disabling condition for some individuals.

To better understand the connection between plantar fasciitis and disabilities, we need to explore why plantar fasciitis is considered a disability and the ways it can affect a person’s daily life.

Why Plantar Fasciitis Could be Considered as a Disability

Severe plantar fasciitis can cause a great deal of pain and discomfort, making it difficult for individuals to perform their job duties or engage in routine activities. The pain and inflammation associated with the condition can limit a person’s ability to stand, walk, or bear weight on the affected foot. This can significantly impact an individual’s mobility, physical capacity, and overall functional abilities.

When determining whether plantar fasciitis qualifies as a disability, factors such as the severity of the condition and its impact on a person’s residual functional capacity (RFC) are taken into account. RFC refers to the individual’s ability to perform work-related activities, such as standing, walking, and lifting. If severe plantar fasciitis limits an individual’s RFC to the point where they are unable to perform their job duties, the condition may be considered a disability.

How Plantar Fasciitis Affects Daily Life

Plantar fasciitis can have a profound impact on a person’s daily life. Simple tasks like walking or standing can become extremely painful and challenging, making it difficult to carry out routine activities. Jobs that involve long periods of standing, heavy lifting, or activities that put significant pressure on the feet may become impossible for individuals with severe plantar fasciitis. The pain and discomfort can persist even during periods of rest, further hindering a person’s overall well-being.

To cope with the limitations caused by plantar fasciitis, individuals may need to make adjustments to their lifestyle and daily routines. Wearing proper footwear, avoiding bare feet, using orthotic devices, and modifying activities that put excess strain on the feet can help manage the pain and improve the individual’s quality of life.

plantar fasciitis and neuropathy

Disability Benefits for Plantar Fasciitis Sufferers

For individuals with severe plantar fasciitis, disability benefits can provide much-needed support. Depending on the individual’s circumstances, they may be eligible for disability benefits through programs such as Social Security Disability (SSD) or the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). These benefits can help offset the financial burden of medical expenses, living costs, and loss of income.

Criteria for Plantar Fasciitis to Qualify as a Disability

To qualify for disability benefits for plantar fasciitis, certain criteria must be met. The Social Security Administration (SSA) evaluates disability claims based on a five-step process, which includes assessing the severity of the condition, determining the primary condition, and evaluating the individual’s residual functional capacity (RFC). The RFC assessment considers the claimant’s ability to perform work-related activities, taking into account the physical, mental, and environmental limitations caused by plantar fasciitis.

In addition, a disability rating may be assessed by the VA for individuals who are seeking VA disability benefits. The rating is based on the impact of plantar fasciitis on the individual’s overall functional abilities and the severity of the condition. This rating helps determine the level of compensation and benefits the individual may be eligible to receive.

Types of Disability Benefits for Plantar Fasciitis

  • Social Security Disability (SSD): Qualifying individuals may be eligible for monthly compensation through the SSD program. The amount of compensation is based on the individual’s work history and the severity of the condition.
  • VA Disability Benefits: Veterans who developed plantar fasciitis during or as a result of their military service may be eligible for VA disability benefits. These benefits provide monthly compensation and medical coverage for service-connected disabilities.
  • Individual Unemployability (IU): Individuals who are unable to work due to plantar fasciitis or other disabilities may qualify for individual unemployability benefits. This program provides compensation at the highest rating level, even if the individual’s disability rating does not reach the required threshold.

Navigating the Process of Claiming Disability Benefits

Navigating the process of claiming disability benefits can be complex, especially for individuals dealing with plantar fasciitis. Understanding the application process, gathering relevant medical documentation, and meeting the necessary deadlines are essential steps to take. Seeking guidance from the Social Security Disability office or a disability attorney can help ensure that all requirements are met and increase the chances of a successful claim.

Steps to File a Claim for Disability Benefits

  • Obtain medical documentation: Gather medical records, diagnostic tests, and treatment documentation that support your diagnosis of plantar fasciitis and the impact it has on your daily life and functional abilities.
  • File an initial claim: Submit the necessary forms and documentation to the Social Security Administration to initiate your claim for disability benefits. Pay close attention to the required documentation and complete the forms accurately.
  • Undergo an RFC assessment: The SSA may require you to undergo a residual functional capacity (RFC) assessment, which evaluates your physical and mental capabilities. This assessment helps determine your functional limitations and the impact of your plantar fasciitis on your ability to work.

Challenges Faced During the Claim Process

Navigating the claim process for disability benefits can be challenging, and there are several potential obstacles to overcome. Some of the common challenges faced during the claim process include:

  • Denied claim: Your initial claim may be denied, requiring you to go through the appeals process.
  • Diagnostic code discrepancies: Ensuring your medical documentation includes the correct diagnostic code for plantar fasciitis is essential, as the code helps establish the severity of your condition.
  • Insurance coverage limitations: Understanding the coverage limitations of your insurance policy and the specific criteria required to qualify for disability benefits is crucial.
  • Compliance with the Disabilities Act: Employers must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and provide reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities, including those with plantar fasciitis.

Appeal Process for Denied Claims

If your claim for disability benefits is denied, you have the right to appeal the decision. The appeals process involves several steps, from submitting a request for reconsideration to potentially attending a hearing in front of an administrative law judge.

It is important to carefully review the denial letter, gather any additional medical evidence, and follow the instructions provided by the disability benefits office. Seeking legal assistance or guidance from a disability attorney can greatly benefit individuals during the appeals process.

Reasons for Denial of Disability Benefit Claims

There are various reasons why a claim for disability benefits may be denied. Some common reasons for denial include:

  • Lack of adequate medical support: Insufficient medical documentation or a lack of evidence supporting the severity of your plantar fasciitis can lead to a denied claim.
  • Failure to meet eligibility requirements: Not meeting the specific criteria outlined by the disability benefit policy can result in a denial of your claim.
  • Pes planus (flat feet) claim denial: Some insurance policies or disability benefit programs may deny claims based on the belief that plantar fasciitis is a result of flat feet, which are not always considered a disability.
  • Inconsistencies in medical records: Conflicting information or inconsistencies in your medical records can raise concerns and potentially lead to a denied claim.
  • Lack of work restrictions: If your healthcare provider does not provide clear work restrictions, indicating your inability to perform your job duties, your claim may be denied.

Steps to Appeal a Denied Claim

  • Review the denial letter: Carefully review the denial letter to understand the reasoning behind the decision.
  • Gather additional medical evidence: Obtain any additional medical documentation or evidence that supports your claim, such as expert opinions, updated diagnostic tests, or treatment records.
  • Seek legal representation: Consider hiring a disability attorney or seeking legal assistance from a professional who specializes in disability claims.
  • File an appeal: Follow the specific instructions outlined in the denial letter to file your appeal within the designated timeframe.
  • Prepare for the appeals process: Be prepared to attend hearings, submit additional documentation, and provide any requested information or records during the appeals process.

Assistance for Filing a Claim and Appealing Denials

Navigating the process of filing a claim for disability benefits and appealing denied claims can be complex and overwhelming, especially for individuals with plantar fasciitis. Seeking assistance from a disability attorney or professional who specializes in disability benefits can provide valuable guidance and support.

These professionals are familiar with the legal aspects of disability claims and can help gather the necessary medical documentation, navigate the appeals process, and advocate for the claimant’s rights, increasing the chances of a successful outcome.

When to Seek Professional Help

Knowing when to seek professional help is crucial for individuals with plantar fasciitis facing challenges in the disability benefits process. While not everyone will need or require the assistance of a disability attorney, there are certain situations where professional help is highly recommended:

  • Complex disability claims: If your case involves complex legal or medical issues, seeking the expertise of a disability attorney can be invaluable.
  • Denial of claim: If your initial claim has been denied, a disability attorney can guide you through the appeals process and help build a stronger case for your disability benefits.
  • Unique circumstances: If you have unique circumstances, such as a combination of disabilities or other factors that complicate your claim, a disability attorney can offer specialized advice and support.

How a Disability Attorney Can Help

A disability attorney specializes in representing clients in disability benefit cases, including those related to plantar fasciitis. These attorneys can provide a range of services, including:

  • Gathering medical evidence: A disability attorney can assist in obtaining the necessary medical documentation to support your disability claim, including medical records, diagnostic tests, and expert opinions.
  • Knowledge of disability law: Disability attorneys are well-versed in disability law, including the specific requirements and criteria for claiming disability benefits. They can ensure that your claim is presented accurately and effectively.
  • Advocating for your rights: If your claim has been denied, a disability attorney can guide you through the appeals process, represent you during hearings, and advocate for your rights to disability benefits.

Is Plantar Fasciitis Classified Under Chronic Pain Conditions?

Plantar Fasciitis is distinct from chronic pain conditions. It involves heel discomfort due to inflammation in the foot’s tissue. The condition can hinder daily activities significantly. Treatments include rest, stretching, orthotics, and sometimes surgery.

What Are the VA Disability Ratings for Plantar Fasciitis?

The VA assigns disability ratings for plantar fasciitis ranging from 10% to 30%, based on pain severity, functional limitations, and daily life impact. Mild cases may get a 10% rating, while chronic severe symptoms could qualify for a higher rating. Ratings consider medical evidence, treatment history, and impairment level.

What are the limitations faced by individuals with plantar fasciitis in terms of work and daily activities?

Individuals with plantar fasciitis experience limitations in work and daily activities due to pain and discomfort. Standing for long periods, walking, and engaging in physical tasks can be challenging. Adjustments like supportive footwear and rest periods are often necessary to manage these limitations effectively.

What accommodations can be made for individuals with plantar fasciitis in the workplace?

Accommodations in the workplace for plantar fasciitis sufferers may include ergonomic footwear, standing desks, frequent breaks, modified job duties, and physical therapy. It’s crucial to communicate needs with employers for suitable adjustments.


In conclusion, while plantar fasciitis can be a debilitating condition that affects every step you take, its recognition as a disability depends on the extent to which it impacts your life. Understanding the criteria and processes for disability claims is crucial for sufferers seeking recognition and support.

Through resources like, individuals with plantar fasciitis can find the help they need to navigate their treatment options. But as you seek solutions and possibly consider the disability route, it’s important to ask yourself: Have I explored all avenues to reclaim the joy of stepping forward without pain?

I hope you have found this blog helpful and please feel free to comment and share.

Thanks for reading!

Tracy J. Founder, The heel GP

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