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Can You Get Disability for Bell’s Palsy?

Written by
Jackie Jakab, Disability Attorney
Jackie Jakab
Lead Attorney
Published February 26, 2024
4 min read
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Atticus offers free, high-quality disability advice for Americans who can't work. Our team of Stanford and Harvard-trained lawyers has a combined 15+ years of legal experience and has helped over 50,000 Americans apply for disability benefits.

See if you qualify

If you have Bell’s palsy, you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits if your condition prevents you from being able to work. According to the latest Social Security Administration (SSA) data, nearly 10% of all disability recipients qualified for benefits due to disease of the nervous system and sense organs, which is how the SSA examines Bell’s palsy. We'll explain how Bell's palsy can qualify for disability and offer guidance on what steps you may want to take next.

What is Bell's palsy?

Bell's palsy is a neurological condition that leads to facial muscle weakness or paralysis, usually on one side of the face. Onset is usually sudden, and the condition is typically temporary, though in rare cases, it can lead to permanent damage. Bell’s palsy can qualify for Social Security disability benefits if the condition is long-term and prevents you from working. 

Symptoms of Bell's palsy

People with Bell’s palsy may experience the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty making facial expressions or facial droop

  • Drooling

  • Headache

  • Inability to close the eye on the side that's affected

  • Increased sensitivity to sound on the affected side

  • Loss of taste

  • Rapid onset of paralysis or weakness on one side of the face

Is Bell's palsy a disability?

No, the Social Security Administration does not consider Bell's palsy a disability. Bell’s palsy is not listed in the SSA Blue Book, a resource of qualifying conditions. However, a person with facial paralysis may qualify for Social Security benefits if the condition prevents them from being able to work. The SSA may evaluate Bell's palsy as a neurological or speech disorder. 

Bell's palsy can be considered a disability under the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) if it is substantially limiting. Passed in 1990, the ADA bans discrimination against individuals living with a disability.

Ready to get benefits today?

Can you get disability for Bell's palsy?

Yes, you can receive disability benefits due to Bell's palsy if you can prove your condition prevents you from working for more than a year. Bell’s palsy can impact your vision, hearing, and speech, and can cause migraines and jaw pain, which can be distractions in the workplace. In severe cases, Bell’s palsy can cause blindness.

Typically, it can be helpful if you apply for disability benefits with multiple conditions. If you have one of the following conditions, which are sometimes associated with Bell's palsy, consider including that in your application for benefits:

For more information about other conditions that can qualify for Social Security disability benefits, refer to our main guide on eligible conditions.

How to get disability benefits with Bell's palsy

To get disability for Bell's palsy, you must demonstrate to the SSA that you are unable to work due to the severity of your condition. You must provide medical evidence demonstrating how your Bell's palsy impacts your ability to work. 

However, unless you are at least 50, the SSA may conclude that your Bell's palsy does not prevent you from doing a sedentary job. In this case, the SSA would likely deny your application for disability benefits.

For applicants aged 50 or older, the SSA will consider more than your physical capacity to engage in work. The SSA will also take your age, education level, and transferrable skills from a previous job into account. 

4 questions to ask yourself before applying

After reviewing the SSA eligibility criteria, you may feel confident your Bell's palsy will likely qualify. If you are unsure, ask yourself the following questions. If you're able to answer “yes” to most of the questions below, you have a better chance of qualifying:

  1. Have you been diagnosed with Bell's palsy, and do you have documentation of your condition from a licensed doctor?

  2. Does your Bell's palsy preclude you from even doing a sedentary job?

  3. If your Bell's palsy does not make it impossible for you to do a sedentary job, are you 50 or older?

  4. Do you have additional Bell's palsy symptoms beyond just physical limitation? Does your condition impact your vision, hearing, or speech, or have a severe emotional impact?

My Bell's palsy meets the criteria. Now what?

If your Bell's palsy seems to meet SSA criteria, move forward with applying for disability benefits. If you feel less certain your Bell's palsy aligns with the requirements, consider the following:

Apply now if:

  • Your Bell's palsy limits your ability to hold even a sedentary job.

  • You have ample, accurate medical documentation from a licensed doctor demonstrating your limitations due to Bell's palsy.

Consider waiting and applying later if:

  • The impact of your Bell's palsy is limited.

  • You can still work in some capacity, even if you think you may be unable to at some point because of your Bell's palsy.

Probably don’t apply if:

  • Your Bell's palsy doesn't prevent you from working in at least some capacity, or your symptoms seem to improve.

  • You earn more than $1,550 every month.

Learn more about how to qualify for disability benefits

What type of benefits should I apply for?

As you research disability benefits, you'll see there are two different types of benefits you can apply for: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Here's an overview of their key differences:

  1. SSDI: This program is for people who have worked and paid taxes for several years, including at least five out of the last 10 years. This program includes Medicare coverage.

  2. SSI: Supplemental Security Income is meant for those who haven't worked much or at all and have little income (think around $900 or less per month) and few assets like savings and other valuable property. The health insurance offered by SSI is Medicaid.

Read our article about the differences between SSDI and SSI for a more detailed breakdown.

How much is a disability check for Bell's palsy?

The average monthly disability check for Bell's palsy is $662.40. Receiving more or less than that amount for your Bell's palsy is possible. In 2024, the maximum you can get monthly for Bell's palsy is $3,822 for SSDI and $943 for SSI.

These maximums will apply regardless of which condition qualifies you to receive disability benefits or how many qualifying conditions you apply with. Instead, each person's benefit amount is determined either based on their work history (for SSDI) or their other sources of income (for SSI).

To better understand the amount you may receive for your Bell's palsy, check out our article on how much people make on SSDI and SSI.

What if my Bell's palsy doesn’t meet the criteria?

If your Bell's palsy doesn't meet SSA eligibility criteria, this isn't necessarily the end of the road for you. You can certainly still apply for benefits, but you will need to prove you're unable to work in any capacity due to your Bell's palsy.

Even if you feel confident that your Bell's palsy meets SSA criteria, prepare for a long road ahead. Typically, just 20% of people who apply for disability benefits are successful on their first attempt. Persistence does pay off, though — the chances of winning a disability appeal are significantly higher. 

Get help with your disability application

As you navigate the disability application process, it can be helpful to read through the resources for people with disabilities Atticus has compiled. These can come in handy if you need financial or legal assistance in the near term.

For more support, consider taking our free Social Security disability quiz. If your answers indicate you might qualify for benefits, a member of our team will follow up to learn more information. If you’d like, Atticus can connect you with a disability lawyer. There are no upfront costs to working with Attics — you only pay your lawyer a set fee when you win disability benefits.

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OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder)

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Peripheral neuropathy


Rheumatoid Arthritis Schizophrenia


Sickle cell

Ulcerative colitis

See all conditions

Frequently asked questions about qualifying for disability

What conditions qualify for disability benefits?

Any medical condition that leaves you unable to work can qualify for Social Security disability benefits. The SSA has a list of common qualifying conditions in the Blue Book. You can also check our full guide to all the conditions that can qualify for disability.

Does my condition affect my disability benefit?

No, the medical condition you have doesn’t affect how much you get from SSDI or SSI. Where you live also doesn’t impact your check size.

How much do SSDI and SSI pay?

SSDI pays up to $3,822 per month, though the average check is about $1,500 in 2024. SSI can pay up to $943 per month in 2024. Read more about how much you can make on SSDI and SSI.

When should I apply for disability benefits?

We recommend applying for benefits as soon as you know you’ll be unable to work. The application process takes a while — a year or longer for the average person. The sooner you submit your application, the sooner you can get your benefits.

Where do I apply for disability benefits?

Apply for Social Security disability benefits online through the SSA website or in-person at your local SSA office. Get step-by-step help in our breakdown of the disability application process.

Do I need a lawyer to apply for disability?

A lawyer isn’t required and you can win benefits without a lawyer. However, the process is complicated and technical — especially when you get to a court hearing. Working with a good lawyer triples your chances of winning an appeal.

Related resources:

Qualifying for Disability: Everything You Should Know

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By Jackie Jakab

Is it Hard to Get Disability for Mental Illness? (Yes, But This Can Help)

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By Sydney Hershenhorn

See what you qualify for

How long has your condition made it hard to work?

Jackie Jakab, Disability Attorney

Jackie Jakab

Lead Attorney

Jackie Jakab is Atticus’s Legal Director. She’s a licensed attorney, a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, and has counseled thousands of people seeking disability benefits.
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