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TMJ and SSA Disability Benefits

Can I get SSDI or SSI for lock jaw?


TMJ or Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, according to Wikipedia, is caused by inflammation of the temporomandibular joint. TMJ can result in not only severe pain but also impairment in the function of the temporomandibular joint which is necessary for eating, facial expressions and speaking. Medical sources estimate that this condition affects approximately 10 million Americans.
Articulation of the mandible. Lateral aspect.

There are a variety symptoms caused by TMJ and these can include:

  1. Joint pain

  2. Discomfort eating or chewing

  3. Popping noises as an individual opens and closes their mouth

  4. Dull pain in the face

  5. Dizziness

  6. Severe headaches

  7. Ear pain

  8. Tooth pain from clenching and unclenching teeth


Temporomandibular Joint Disorder develops for a variety of reasons. For instance, claimants who continually grind their teeth can develop this disorder. Other claimants may suffer TMJ from a trauma from a sport or car accident, misalignment from dental treatments such as defective crowns, or stretching the mouth too much when yawning, eating or sneezing.

Winning SSDI or SSI benefits for TMJ


The Social Security Administration (SSA) has two methods for determining whether a claimant is disabled and unable to work. First, the SSA will determine whether or not the claimant has a condition which is so severe it meets or exceeds a listing on the SSA Listing of Impairments. This listing, also called the SSA Blue Book, has all of the symptoms and diagnosis which the SSA considers automatically disabling and which do not allow the claimant to perform substantial gainful activity (SGA).

If the claimantÂ’s condition does not meet or exceed a listing the claimant must prove that they do not have the residual functional capacity to work their current job, their previous job or retrain for new work. This process is called the medical vocational process and the SSA will consider the claimantÂ’s age, work history, and education when making their disability determination.

Meeting a listing on the SSA Listing of Impairments for TMJ


There is not a listing for TMJ on the SSA Listing of Impairments. This does not mean that you cannot prove that your condition is as severe as a condition which is listed, but it will be very difficult. Claimants who have suffered a severe trauma may be able to win SSDI or SSI if they have additional conditions, in addition to TMJ, that will meet a listing.

Winning SSDI or SSI for TMJ through a medical vocational allowance


Unfortunately, it will be very difficult for most claimants to prove that their TMJ is so severe that they cannot work any type of job. This will be especially true for younger claimants who have a higher education and who may be able to retrain for various types of work.

Again, as mentioned above, TMJ could cause some disorders that could be very disabling. For instance, if you have sought good medical treatment (specialists, a neurologists or a pain management doctor, dental specialists) but you continue to have severe headaches it could be possible that the headaches are so frequent and so severe that it would be difficult to perform daily activities as well as common work tasks.

This condition, however, is generally not severe enough to prove that you are unable to work for at least 12 continuous months. Talk to a disability lawyer if you have questions about your condition.
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