Bell’s palsy is a form of temporary facial paralysis caused by damage to the facial nerves. The symptoms of Bell’s palsy can appear quite rapidly, and can range from mild weakness to total paralysis on one side of the face. Most cases of Bell’s palsy are temporary, but some people continue to have symptoms of Bell’s palsy for extended periods of time.
Symptoms of Bell’s palsy include facial droop, difficulty making certain facial expressions, drooling, excessive tear production, pain around the jaw or behind the ear, and an increased sensitivity to sound on the affected side.
While Bell’s palsy is usually temporary with symptoms typically disappearing within a few months, some cases can result in further complications. These complications, such as vision problems, misdirected growth of nerve fibers, and anxiety/depression, could impact your ability to work, possibly requiring you to stop working and file a claim for long-term disability benefits.
Bell’s palsy can result in vision changes that could impact your ability to work. Bell’s palsy can impact the eyelid’s natural blinking ability, leaving the eye vulnerable to dryness and irritation. In some cases, this can lead to partial or total blindness in the affected eye.
Bell’s palsy can also cause misdirected growth of nerve fibers, which can result in involuntary contractions of certain muscles when you are trying to move others. This can lead to difficulties with speech, eating, or drinking. In some cases, damage to the facial nerves is irreversible, resulting in permanent disabilities.
Bell’s palsy can also lead to other issues, such as anxiety or depression caused by permanent facial paralysis. These conditions may support their own claim for long-term disability, but may be limited by certain mental health exclusions. For example, a long-term disability policy may limit the payment of benefits for mental health issues to two years.
Depending on your job and the severity of symptoms, you may be able to continue working by requesting reasonable accommodation or adjusting your job duties. You may also take a short-term disability leave if your Bell’s palsy is temporary. For more persistent cases of Bell’s palsy, or for permanent complications that result, you should consider filing for long-term disability benefits.
Contact the experienced ERISA lawyers at Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick. Visit our website to learn more about disability claim denials and to download our free ERISA law guide.