What is Trigeminal Neuralgia and Is It Considered a Disability?
Trigeminal neuralgia is a type of nerve pain that affects your face. The trigeminal nerve carries sensation from your face to your brain. The pain can be so severe as to affect your ability to eat or drink. It is generally triggered by even mild stimulation such as brushing your teeth or washing your face. This type of nerve pain is generally very severe, sending shock-like pain to your face. Other symptoms associated with this condition include severe migraines, muscle spasms, tingling, burning and oversensitivity.
How is Trigeminal Neuralgia Treated?
The condition is generally treated by your primary care provider, pain management provider or neurologist. This condition is diagnosed by an MRI. The MRI will determine if the trigeminal nerve in the head is being compressed, which is thought to cause severe pain shock-like sensations. Your health care provider may recommend pain medication, injections, or even surgery. Surgical options may include peripheral nerve blocks or ablation, craniotomy, or microvascular decompression. Surgical intervention is always the last resort. Doctors will typically attempt to treat the condition with an anticonvulsant and pain medication first. If all conservative treatment has been exhausted and you are still suffering from severe pain, your provider will then consider more invasive options such as surgery.
Is Trigeminal Neuralgia a Disability?
If you are suffering from trigeminal neuralgia, your pain is likely so severe that you are struggling to maintain employment. Severe pain poses a major barrier to employment. It can cause problems with not only physical limitations but non-exertional limitations as well, such as affecting your ability to focus and concentrate. If you are suffering from this condition and are unable to work, you should consider applying for social security disability benefits.
The social security disability program is a federally mandated insurance program. Meaning, the government requires all people who are working to pay taxes on their earnings into the social security system. The social security system then provides disability insurance for disabled workers. Not everyone who has paid taxes into the social security system will be covered for potential disability benefits. The general rule of thumb for coverage is that you must have worked the past 5 out of 10 years, paying taxes into social security on those earnings. If you fall into that category then you likely have disability insurance coverage. If you are unsure, you can always speak with an experienced social security disability attorney to help determine your status.
Social Security Disability Program
The social security disability program provides two main benefits for disabled individuals:
- A monthly monetary benefit. The monthly check you would receive is based upon what you have paid in taxes into the social security system over the years. The more you have paid in taxes, the higher your monthly benefit amount will be. Again, if you contact an experienced disability attorney, they can help you figure out what your monthly benefit amount would be.
- Medicare health insurance. This is the federally run health insurance, generally known as old-age health insurance. You may become eligible for Medicare health benefits 2 years and 5 months from the date you are found disabled. For example, if you are found disabled as of January 1, 2018, you would be eligible for Medicare health insurance as of June 1, 2020, 29 months after your disability date.
Applying for Disability Benefits
Applying for disability benefits tends to be a complicated and lengthy process. Your best bet in receiving these benefits is by hiring an experienced disability attorney to handle your claim. Don’t worry, you can afford to hire us! At the LaBovick Law Group, we provide free consultations with no out-of-pocket expenses. There are no up-front fees and we only get paid if you get paid.
Once an application has been placed for disability benefits, the social security administration will then review your claim to determine if your condition meets their definition of disability. The social security administration has defined disability as an individual’s inability to engage in substantial gainful activity for a period of 12 months or more due to a severe physical and/or mental condition, or as a result of a terminal condition.
Trigeminal Neuralgia and Social Security Disability
In terms of trigeminal neuralgia, the social security administration will evaluate your claim on a pain scale. Meaning, they will review all of your medical records including your doctor’s examinations, diagnosis and treatment plan. Once done they will formulate your residual functional capacity. Your residual functional capacity, or RFC, is the most you are functionally capable of doing in spite of your medical conditions. This is a combination of both exertional and non-exertional limitations. Pain is generally a subjective type of complaint. So what the social security administration will be looking for is your treating doctor to make notations in their medical records alluding to severe pain, recommending significant treatment plans which are ineffective. Even changing around medications as they are not affecting your pain level. The best evidence to support a pain complaint is a longitudinal history with your provider documenting multiple different treatment attempts without significant relief in your severe pain.
In claims where trigeminal neuralgia is the main disabling condition, the social security administration will likely turn to social security rulings 96-9p and 16-3p for guidance. These rulings provide for how a subjective complaint should be reviewed. Generally, the claim will be reviewed on the intensity, persistent and functionally limiting effects of the symptoms, whether the objective evidence supports the allegations and the individual’s credibility overall. They will also consider how these symptoms affect your ability to perform work at different exertional levels such as sedentary, light or medium.
An Experienced Attorney Can Help
If you are considering applying for disability benefits, you should first hire an experienced attorney. As mentioned, trigeminal neuralgia often causes severe debilitating pain. But pain is a subjective type of complaint. So, to build your case so that your subjective complaints of pain will be used in determining your functional ability, speaking with an attorney is the best way to formulate a plan to prove your case. Second, treating a healthcare professional on a regular basis is a must. Whether the treating doctor is a primary care physician, pain management doctor, or neurologist does not matter. What does matter is that you are treating your condition with a medical doctor, that the doctor is noting severe pain even after multiple treatment events, and that you are consistently getting treatment for a significant time frame?
Trigeminal neuralgia may not be a well-known disorder, but it is very painful and more often than not will qualify you for disability benefits. Call us today at (561) 623-3681 to help get your application started.