Disability Benefits for Trigeminal Neuralgia: Everything You Need to Know

middle age woman in pain holding jaw from trigeminal neuralgia

Trigeminal neuralgia (TN), also known as “tic douloureux,” “prosopalgia,” “the Suicide Disease,” or “Fothergill’s disease,” is a chronic pain condition thought to be caused by a blood vessel compressing the trigeminal nerve (the fifth cranial nerve). 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. 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. Get the benefits you deserve!

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