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Facts about Neuralgia and Filing for Disability

How to prove you are disabled
and win disability benefits

1) Neuralgia is a chronic pain condition that occurs when an individual feels the sensation of pain without any actual stimulation of pain receptor cells.

2) There are two categories of neuralgia, central and peripheral. Peripheral neuralgia is caused by trauma to the actual nerves involved, while central neuralgia is caused by injury to the central nervous system.

3) In trigeminal and atypical trigeminal neuralgia conditions affect the touch, temperature and pressure nerves in the face. Trigeminal neuralgia causes short attacks of severe pain that can be brought on by every day movements and activities like facial expressions and face washing. Attacks last under two minutes but are considered among the worst of human pain sensations. Atypical trigeminal neuralgia is different because it is constant aching pain.

4) The pain from trigeminal neuralgia has been described by patients as sharp stabbing pain or pain that burns or itches.

5) Postherpetic neuralgia has the most directly obvious cause, as it occurs after an outbreak of shingles. For this reason it is not usually difficult to diagnose.

6) In general, a neuralgia diagnosis is difficult to determine, and the condition is often misdiagnosed. Description of symptoms and trying different types of medications or procedures and observing the response are key to diagnosis.

7) Regular pain medications do not alleviate the pain of neuralgia. Instead, anticonvulsant medications and antidepressants are used.

8) Surgery to stimulate the affected nerve or nerves is also an option. This works by fooling the brain into recognizing input from the nerve normally. Other surgery options destroy nerve fibers to stop the pain and moving the vessels compressing the nerve to implant soft cushioning between them.

9) Complementary therapy such as nerve stimulation and hot-cold compresses and alternative medicine therapies such as acupuncture and chiropractic care are common in an attempt to manage pain. The response of the condition to these therapies varies widely among individuals.

Can you qualify for disability benefits with this condition?

Whether or not you qualify for disability and, as a result, are approved for disability benefits will depend entirely on the information obtained from your medical records. This includes whatever statements may have been obtained from your treating physician (a doctor who has a history of treating your condition and is, therefore, qualified to comment as to your condition and prognosis).

It will also depend on the information obtained from your vocational, or work, history if you are an adult, or academic records if you are a minor-age child. The important thing to keep in mind is that the social security administration does not award benefits based on simply having a condition, but, instead, will base an approval or denial on the extent to which a condition causes functional limitations. Functional limitations can be great enough to make work activity not possible (or, for a child, make it impossible to engage in age-appropriate activities).

Why are so many disability cases lost at the disability application and reconsideration appeal levels?

Speaking as a former Disability Claims Examiner, I can state that there are several reasons:

1) Social Security makes no attempt to obtain a statement from a claimant's treating physician. By contrast, at the hearing level, a claimant and his or her disability attorney will generally obtain and present this type of statement to a judge;

2) Prior to the hearing level, a claimant will not have the opportunity to explain how their condition limits them, nor will their attorney or representative have the opportunity to make a presentation based on the evidence of the case. At the hearing level, of course, this is exactly what happens. And a number of disability representatives will also take such steps even earlier, at the reconsideration appeal level;

3) Disability judges, unlike disability examiners who decides cases at the first two levels of the system, can make independent decisions without being overturned by immediate supervisors--which happens frequently.

Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions

Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions

Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The Disability Decision Process and What gets taken into Consideration | Getting Denied for Disability Benefits | Questions about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | Social Security Disability Hearings | Social Security Medical Examinations | Social Security SSI Doctors | Social Security Disability Representation | Social Security Disability SSI Reviews