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Neuralgia and Social Security Disability

Neuralgia is a chronic condition that causes burning pain in the nerves. Episodes can last anywhere from seconds to hours, and the pain is so intense that it prevents normal activities. One of the most common forms of the condition is trigeminal neuralgia, which affects the face. The exact cause is unknown and episodes can occur frequently or infrequently. In some cases, patients experience daily episodes, while others may have weeks where they are episode free.

Applying for Social Security Disability with Neuralgia

Neuralgia is a relative mystery, with medical professionals being unable to pinpoint the exact cause and with most medical exams and diagnostic tests showing no conclusive evidence the condition exists. Nonetheless, the condition can be quite debilitating and can prevent sufferers from maintaining employment as a result.

If you suffer from neuralgia and need to apply for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, then you can potentially qualify to receive disability in two different ways:

  • meet the criteria of a listed impairment, or
  • satisfy the requirements for a medical vocational allowance.

Qualifying for Neuralgia based on Blue Book Criteria

Because the Social Security Administration (SSA) has no dedicated listing for neuralgia among its potentially disabling conditions in the Blue Book (the manual used to make disability determinations), then you can’t “meet” a listing if your application is based solely on neuralgia. However, as neuralgia often occurs in conjunction with other medical conditions, like arthritis and diabetes for example, you may be able to meet the listing for the underlying or concurrent medical condition. You’ll need to consult the SSA’s Blue Book listing for the other impairment you have in order to determine what records and medical documentation are necessary in your application for SSD benefits.

You can also “match” a listed condition, which is basically the process of finding a condition that is similar to your own and substantiating your disability by showing your symptoms and impairment are as severe as those found in the listed condition. Most neuralgia SSD applications are structured based on the listing for neuropathy, which appears in section 11.14 of the SSA’s Blue Book.

Qualify for Neuralgia based on a Medical Vocational Allowance

With a medical vocational allowance, you must show your neuralgia prevents you from working in your previous field of employment or in any other field for which you might otherwise have been qualified. In other words, your application and medical documentation must show you’re so severely limited by your condition that you’re unable to work. To accomplish this, your application must include records that:

  • Document your medical history
  • Detail results of physical examinations
  • Show the results of diagnostic tests, even if test results are inconclusive
  • Substantiate that neuralgia symptoms remain debilitating even with prescribed treatments, like pain medications and other types of therapy
  • Detail the overall findings of your doctor regarding your condition, including your overall outlook and the limitations your neuralgia imposes on you in your everyday personal and work life

Medical Evidence to Prove Neuralgia

Because pain is the primary symptom of neuralgia, and because pain cannot be easily measured or documented, presenting evidence of your neuralgia impairment can be difficult. Medical records are an essential part of your SSD application, but they will not prove how bad your pain is or how often you experience it. Instead, the SSA will need to rely on other evidence to determine your pain levels, frequency with which you suffer from pain, and how the pain you experience affects your ability to function, including in the performance of job duties. To accomplish this, the SSA may:

  • Take statements from you, your family members, or from others who know you well
  • Look at your work attempts to see if you’ve tried to hold a job but were unable to do
  • Consult other records you provide, like a pain diary you keep

Getting Help with Your Neuralgia SSD Application

Because there is no clear cut method for applying for SSD benefits with neuralgia and because it can be a difficult condition on which to present inarguable medical evidence of symptoms, you’ll need to seek assistance in filing your SSD application. Your doctor can assist you in collecting appropriate records and in helping you determine which listed impairment may be the most applicable in your case. A Social Security attorney or advocate can also help you with your application by ensuring you have a well documented case file that accurately reflects your disability.

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