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Disability Benefits for Trigeminal Neuralgia: Everything You Need to Know

February 22, 2021

Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) is a chronic pain condition caused by the trigeminal nerve (the fifth cranial nerve). TN is also known as “tic douloureux,” “prosopalgia,” “the Suicide Disease,” or “Fothergill’s disease”. This compression eventually wears away and causes damage to the protective sheath around the nerve. Less often, it can occur in people with Multiple Sclerosis, caused by nerve compression from a tumor, or as a result of injury to the nerve sustained during a number of different surgical procedures. The trigeminal nerve carries sensation between your face and your brain.

Trigeminal neuralgia can be characterized by extreme, spontaneous, and sporadic attacks of pain, precipitated by performing even simple tasks such as brushing your teeth, chewing, speaking, or applying makeup. For some, the pain can be mild and can go into remission. The attacks may also be daily or intermittent and are more common in women than men. Along with pain, they can be associated with tingling, burning, and even muscle spasms. Trigeminal neuralgia can be treated via different modalities including prescription medications (anticonvulsants, tricyclic antidepressants, opioids) and several neurosurgical procedures.

Can you get disability benefits for trigeminal neuralgia?

The good news: It is possible to obtain disability for trigeminal neuralgia and Balin Law has been very successful in winning these types of cases! However, it can be difficult because there are not many objective tests to determine if a person has the condition. An MRI or a magnetic resonance angiography could reveal an issue with the trigeminal nerve but for some people tests may be inconclusive. Diagnosis is often based upon a person’s subjective complaints, along with any corresponding neurological and physical examination findings, and it is often a diagnosis of exclusion after other conditions are ruled out such as cluster headaches, Multiple Sclerosis, or temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder.

How does the Social Security Administration (SSA) qualify trigeminal neuralgia as a disability?

To be considered disabled by Social Security, you must show that you have an inability to perform substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months. (20 C.F.R. §404.1505).

One basis for disability is to show that your condition meets and/or equals an impairment in the Listing of Impairments. The Listings describe impairments in each major body system considered severe enough to prevent a person from performing substantial gainful activity. Unfortunately, there is no Listing specific to trigeminal neuralgia and it is difficult to show that trigeminal neuralgia, when combined with any other impairments with which a person may be suffering, equals a Listing.

Most trigeminal neuralgia cases are granted based upon medical-vocational considerations. You must show that the combination of your impairments and the symptoms which flow from them result in such significant work limitations that you are precluded from performing any work in the national economy on a sustained basis. When SSA determines whether or not a person is disabled, they assess the severity of your symptoms. Social Security will also evaluate how consistent the intensity, persistence, and limiting effects of your symptoms are with the objective medical and other evidence in your case, including, but not limited to, your statements to providers, statements from your providers, medications taken and their effectiveness, types of treatments other than medication used to relieve your symptoms, and your daily activities. (SSR 16-3p). Learn more about how your medical records tell your story in a Social Security disability case.

Can you work with trigeminal neuralgia?

If you have TN, the condition can worsen over time with the pain-free intervals becoming less and less frequent and the pain medications becoming less effective. A person may experience such severe pain on a consistent and ongoing basis that they find it difficult to concentrate and focus, causing off-task behavior. If such behavior rises to the level of 20% (sometimes as low as a little more than 10%, depending on the vocational expert assigned to your case) it is usually preclusive of all work. Similarly, if you are expected to be absent from work, two days per month is usually the threshold at which all work is precluded. Many times, constant and debilitating pain can cause mental health impairments and may impact your abilities for social interaction, also greatly restricting any available jobs.

Benefits of hiring a disability lawyer if you have trigeminal neuralgia

There are many benefits to hiring a disability lawyer if you or a loved one is suffering from trigeminal neuralgia. Filing for disability benefits is an arduous process. It can be burdensome on claimants to file and fill out paperwork appropriately when details matter. Balin Law has successfully represented numerous disability claimants with trigeminal neuralgia. We recommend that as soon as a person thinks they can no longer work full-time, they should apply since all payable benefits are tied to your application filing date.

It was a relief to our clients to hire our law firm as we handle all aspects of your case, including gathering all of the necessary evidence. We also solicit necessary medical opinions from your treating providers and strongly advocate for you all at steps of the adjudication process, but especially at the hearing level when your case is presented before a U.S. Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Obtaining disability benefits can not only provide a person with a stream of income but also much-needed medical coverage. Moreover, hiring an experienced law firm to represent you can improve your likelihood of winning.

Balin Law prides itself in taking on difficult cases, often involving rare conditions such as trigeminal neuralgia, and no case is too complicated for our talented attorneys! We understand this condition has no cure and can be extremely painful and we strive to treat each client with compassion and do the legwork so you don’t have to. We offer free consultations and will thoroughly evaluate the merits of your case and advise you if we can help. Please call us toll-free at 866-492-2546 to speak with a representative. You can also use our live Chat feature 24/7 down below, or send us a message. Get the benefits you deserve!


  1. Kerry on November 4, 2022 at 8:40 pm

    I am a teacher in Kentucky. We do not pay into Social Security because of a separate retirement plan. I am going into my 3rd year with Trigeminal Neuralgia. Teaching is becoming almost impossible due to pain and memory problems due to medicine. Am I eligible for disability since I don’t pay into Social Security?

    • Balin Law on November 5, 2022 at 8:06 pm

      Hi Kerry,
      We’re so sorry to hear what you’re going through.
      So, “Disability” as in Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is just like any other insurance program, in that if you haven’t paid into it, you’re not going to be able to make a claim and get benefits. Since you’ve paid into a different kind of program though, you might qualify for disability benefits through them (assuming KPPA)? Call and talk to someone at KPPA, or if you’re part of a teachers’ union, they also might be able to help you navigate what your options are.
      We wish you the best of luck, and feel free to give us a call if you think there’s anything we might be able to assist with.

  2. Clarisa Perez on March 29, 2022 at 5:58 pm

    Hello! I have Trigeminal Neuralgia for a few years now and 3 weeks ago i had the Gama knife surgery done. As per the doctor I was told that any of the surgeries would just relieve some of the pain, but it doesn’t work on everyone. I still have the severe pain, which means it did not work and my pills aren’t working either. How would I know if I will be approved for SSD or SSI and how long it would take to get approved? I have proof of the surgery

    • Balin Law on March 30, 2022 at 11:34 am

      Hi Clarisa,
      We’re so sorry to hear that. I can only imagine the frustration and disappointment you must be feeling.
      Step 1 – you can go to the Social Security website and create a “my Social Security” account. It will tell you if you’re eligible for SSDI (Disability Insurance) and if so, how much your monthly benefit would be. Eligibility for SSDI is based on how much you’ve worked – or more specifically, if you’ve paid enough into Social Security. SSI (Supplemental Security Income) on the other hand is a needs-based program so it does not depend on work history; instead it requires proof that your household is bringing in little to no income.
      The approval process can take a few months. Having an attorney can certainly speed up the process by ensuring you have your ducks in a row, all the right paperwork, etc. And you pay nothing out of pocket either – Social Security Disability lawyers only get paid if they win, and even then it’s only 25% of the back pay Social Security owes you; SSA pays the attorney directly, so you literally will never get a bill from us. Period.

      Everything is done by phone, online, and sometimes video chat now, so while we’re in Ohio we can work with clients all across the United States. Our team has experience with getting benefits for clients with TN, so Balin Law would be a great fit to represent you. We’re happy to answer any other questions you have – just give us a call! (866) 492-2546 Or you can fill out our New Client form here.

  3. Yaya on December 22, 2021 at 1:09 pm

    To anyone suffering from this condition, it’s definitely going to be important that you get disability bc eventually you will be unable to work. I’ve had TN for a few years and I’m grateful that SSD was available (after attempting a couple times). They’ll turn you down automatically the 1st time but keep at it. It’s important to get an attorney who specializes in this area. You’ll definitely need it!

    As a side note, I have bilateral pain. Am I the only one who’s pain isn’t isolated to the face? I feel it in my temples & head too…. as if I’m getting tazed there approx 80-100 times/day.

    Anyway, good luck to all who are seeking disability compensation. I wish you all the best!

    • Balin Law on December 22, 2021 at 4:13 pm

      Thank you for sharing your experience, Yaya. With such a rare condition, it’s nice to find others to talk to who are also going through it. Especially with something so painful and “invisible”.
      And we agree, it’s best to have an experienced attorney to advocate for you and handle the leg work. Getting disability benefits approved for disorders like Trigeminal Neuralgia can be difficult because there is no objective test or scan to prove it. Rather, diagnosis is often based on self-reported symptoms.
      To anyone dealing with TN, our attorneys are amongst the few with experience winning cases for disability benefits for Trigeminal neuralgia. We work with clients all across the U.S. (not just in Ohio) and you don’t pay a dime unless and until we win. Once we win, the attorney fee is only 25% of the back pay (past-due benefits) owed to you, and even that will be divided and paid by the Social Security Administration – you don’t even have to deal with writing a check.
      Thank you again, Yaya. We hope you’re having a Happy Holiday and wish you a Happy New Year.

      • Mary Wilson on January 8, 2023 at 2:40 pm

        Mary Wilson I suffer from Trigeminal Nerve pain
        Had Three rhizotomy surgery excucating pain
        Was not giving prescriptions for my pain

        • Balin Law on January 9, 2023 at 5:07 pm

          Oh Mary, we’re so sorry. If you need help filing for disability please let us know, OK? You can call us at 866-492-2546 Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm.

    • Cynthia Edmonson on February 8, 2022 at 9:58 am

      What lawyer did you use?

      • Balin Law on February 8, 2022 at 10:44 am

        Hi Cynthia,
        I’m not sure who Yaya used, but Balin Law works with clients across the U.S. and our attorneys are certainly familiar with Trigeminal Neuralgia. Everything related to SSA, filing, appealing, etc., is still being done either online or via phone, so we can help you no matter where you live. Our attorneys have been known to travel if needed in-person as well, but we don’t foresee any in-person requirements in the near future. Give us a call at the number up top or use our New Client form here. We’re in the office from 8am-5pm Eastern time.

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