Trigeminal Neuralgia and Social Security Disability Benefits

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​Marks & Harrison: If you suffer from a physical or mental condition that prevents you from working, you may be eligible to receive monthly Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. However, what it takes to obtain these benefits may be a mystery to you. You are not alone. Many people find the process to be confusing. We want to clear up that mystery. Below, we outline the basic steps of applying for SSD benefits and explain issues you may face while seeking approval of your

Living with debilitating pain is a daily struggle. If you or a loved one suffers from Trigeminal Neuralgia you will likely agree that financial instability is an unwelcome stressor in an already difficult situation. Unfortunately, financial distress is a reality for many individuals with this condition because the severity of their symptoms makes it impossible for them to maintain employment and earn a living.

Fortunately, the Social Security Administration (SSA) offers Social Security Disability benefits to those who cannot work due to disability or illness. If you are considering disability benefits as a way to relieve financial stress, it is essential that you understand the two disability programs, how to apply and what to expect.

The following information will provide you with a general understanding of the Social Security Disability programs and will help you prepare for the application process.

Social Security Disability Programs

The SSA governs two separate programs that offer disability benefits. To qualify for either program you must first meet the SSA’s definition of disabled. Essentially, this means that your Trigeminal Neuralgia keeps you from holding any type of job and is expected to last for at least one year. In addition to these requirements, each program has its own technical qualifications that an applicant must meet.

The first program—Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)—provides disability benefits to workers and their dependents. This program is funded by income taxes that workers pay into the system. To determine whether or not an applicant qualifies for SSDI, the SSA assigns a certain number of “work credits” to each year a person pays Social Security taxes. To qualify for benefits through this program, you must have earned a specific amount of work credits. To learn more about these criteria visit the following page: http://www.disability-benefits-help.org/ssdi/qualify-for-ssdi.

The second disability program—Supplemental Security Income (SSI)—pays benefits to elderly or disabled individuals who earn very little income.  In order to qualify for SSI, you will need to meet specific income and resource requirements. Because SSI is not based on work history, it is often a good option for children, young adults, or other individuals who don’t have enough work credits to qualify for SSDI. Learn more about SSI here: http://www.disability-benefits-help.org/content/about-ssi.

Other Requirements

When evaluating your application for disability benefits, the SSA will use a guidebook of disabling conditions—known as the blue book—to determine the severity of your condition. Unfortunately, Trigeminal Neuralgia is not listed in the SSA’s blue book. Qualifying with a condition that is not listed in the blue book is slightly more difficult but still very possible.

Individuals with Trigeminal Neuralgia may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits based on something called a “medical vocational allowance”. This simply means that the SSA has determined that, based on your application, your condition keeps you from working even though it is not specifically listed in the blue book.

To qualify for a medical vocational allowance, it is imperative that you work with your doctor to fill out a form called the “Residual Functional Capacity” (RFC) form.  The RFC form measures your physical and mental abilities. The SSA will consider the RFC form along with medical evidence to decide whether or not you qualify for a medical vocational allowance.

If you suffer from other conditions in addition to Trigeminal Neuralgia, you should include these in your application as well. The SSA will consider the combined effects of all your health issues to determine whether or not you are able to work. If you fail to mention additional health problems, the SSA may not understand the extent of your limitations and deny your claim for benefits.

Initiating the Application Process

Prior to beginning the Social Security Disability application process, you should collect medical records to support your application. Medical records should include documentation of your diagnosis, any lab test results, hospitalizations, history of treatments, and your reaction to treatments. These records will serve as evidence of your condition. Without them, you will likely be denied.

Because the main symptom of Trigeminal Neuralgia is pain, it can be hard to find supporting medical documentation. For this reason, you should also ask your doctor or doctors to write personal statements regard your condition and the limitations it causes.

Once you are ready to begin the application process, you can do so online at the SSA’s website or in person at your local Social Security office. It’s very important that you apply for disability benefits as soon as you become disabled.  The process can take several months, and the sooner you get started, the sooner you will begin to receive benefits.

It is important that you realize how overwhelming and complicated the Social Security Disability Application process may be. In fact, many initial applications are denied. If your claim is denied, do not give up, you have the right to appeal the SSA’s decision.

If you find that you are having difficulty, it may be in your best interest to retain the services of an attorney or advocate. A legal professional will help you collect the records you need and prevent you from making costly errors.

If you have additional questions about applying for Social Security Disability benefits, visit Social Security Disability Help or contact Molly Clarke at mac@ssd-help.org. .

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