If you have Temporal Mandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMD) you may qualify for disability benefits
For most people, their ability to work is linked to their ability to talk. Nearly every job requires at least some degree of verbal communication. Some professions, such as sales, tech support, or customer service, require nearly constant talking. Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMD) can cause stiffness and pain in the jaw making it difficult to talk, and difficult to work.
An estimated 3% of Americans are afflicted with TMD.
Temporal Mandibular Joint Dysfunction is loosely defined and can refer to many conditions which affect the joints and nerves in the jaw. Symptoms of TMD include tenderness, soreness and pain in the neck, jaw and ears. Sometimes the jaw will pop or click. Headaches, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and spells of disorientation are other common symptoms. Pain and discomfort from jaw motion can make it difficult to chew or talk.
If you have been denied disability for Temporal Mandibular Joint Dysfunction you may still qualify for benefits. Contact an experienced Social Security disability attorney at 512-454-4000
The causes of TMD are still unclear.
For unknown reasons, 90% of all patients with TMD are women. Researchers believe hormone levels may affect the condition, but have yet to find conclusive evidence. Some cases of TMD are caused by injury – a dislocated jaw would certainly cause joint discomfort. Bruxism, or grinding your teeth, TMD and high levels of stress are all correlated. Arthritis is a known cause of TMD, but does not affect everyone suffering from the condition.
In cases where TMD is caused by tooth-grinding, a mouth guard can help lessen symptoms.
Other treatment options include: avoiding crunchy food, applying heat or ice to the jaw, massaging the jaw, muscle relaxers and pain relievers. Unfortunately, these treatment options only provide temporary relief. In severe cases, jaw surgery or dental realignment may be recommended.
TMD is a difficult condition to live with and it is easy to see how it would affect an individual’s ability to work.
Many people with TMD are not able to speak for long periods of time. Unfortunately, it can be very difficult to qualify for Social Security disability benefits on the basis of TMD alone. Social Security has a list of impairments which are eligible for benefits called the “blue book”. TMD is not listed in the blue book, but it is still possible to qualify for benefits under a similar listing or by proving you could not do any job.
There are some jobs which do not require speech, so it would difficult to prove an individual couldn’t do any job unless they had other medical conditions.
This means, in order to eligible for benefits, the applicant must prove their condition equals a similar listed condition. Fortunately, there is a listing for loss of speech:
“2.09 Loss of speech due to any cause, with inability to produce by any means speech that can be heard, understood, or sustained.”
If an individual’s Temporomandibular Joint Disorder causes them to lose the ability to speak, then they may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance.
Long-Term Disability insurance generally does not require that the applicant is unable to perform any job, only their current job for the first two years of disability.
For example, a call center operator applying for Social Security would likely be denied because they could go into data entry or some other job where speech is less necessary. However, under most Long-Term Disability insurance policies, they would be eligible because they could not continue to work their current job. The downside is that most Long-Term Disability policies change their definition of disability after two years, often leaving the beneficiary without benefits.