Question: Can I get Social Security disability for post-herpetic neuralgia?
Answer: Yes, if it is causing severe pain and has lasted or is expected to last for a year or more.
First, for those reading this who aren’t familiar with the term “post-herpetic neuralgia” let me explain that I am talking about long lasting pain tha can follow the disease known as shingles. I think most people know that shingles, in and of itself, is quite painful and unpleasant. Fortunately, shingles eventually goes away. Since shingles itself is unlikely to last for a year or more, shingles isn’t likely to get a person on Social Security disability. It won’t meet the one year duration requirement.
An unfortunate few people who get shingles get the “post-herpetic neuralgia.” Let me explain that name. Shingles is officially herpes zoster. There are several varieties of herpes. Herpes zoster is chickenpox. The disease you had as a child or maybe the disease you didn’t have because you were vaccinated. The problem with herpes zoster is that once you get it, it never fully leaves your body. You’re not sick but it can come back in later life. When it comes back, it’s shingles and very painful. Once the shingles is over and you’re “post-herpetic” the pain can linger, perhaps for the rest of your life. It’s a nerve pain, something that a doctor calls a neuralgia, in this case a “post-herpetic neuralgia.”
The problems with proving disability due to post-herpetic neuralgia are the questions of how long the pain will last and how bad the pain is. Usually by the time we get to a hearing on one of these cases, we’re well past the one year mark so duration is not a problem. Pain cannot be measured so it is always a problem to prove. At least, everyone acknowledges that post-herpetic neuralgia is a very real problem and usually quite painful, so these cases are usually quite sympathetic.