Disability Benefits for Epilepsy

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Is Epilepsy A Disability: Facts & Facets To Know


Epilepsy is a mental disorder, causing recurring seizures. It may result from brain conditions like cerebral palsy and strokes. The seizure symptoms can either be simple staring spells or convulsions or loss of consciousness.

Given that seizures vary in frequency, medications can be a cure. But when a patient gets diagnosed with epilepsy (having two unprovoked attacks), this is where disability benefits come into being.

At Berke Law Firm, P.A., we have a talented team of legal professionals who work for epilepsy disability benefits. You can get in touch with us if you have faced a disability issue for over one year.


An Overview of the Mental Disorder: Types & Symptoms


It becomes relatively simpler to identify disability if the mental disorder gets classified into its types. The seizure types can get classified into two groups – Generalized and Partial. Before knowing the process of getting disability for epilepsy, here’s presenting the types and symptoms in detail.


  • Generalized Seizures produced by abnormal electrical impulses present in the brain
  • Partial(aka. focal or localized) – Seizures produced by the electrical impulses generating from relatively small (localized) part of your brain (aka. Focus)


Disability Benefits for Epilepsy


To get an insight into both the types, here’s presenting them one by one:

  1. Generalized epilepsy classifications


  1. Generalized tonic-clonic


  • The patient loses consciousness and immediately collapses
  • The unconscious state follows body stiffening, also called the ‘tonic’ phase
  • Violent jerking (clonic phase)
  • Patiently directly goes to deep sleep (postictal or ‘After seizure’ phase)


Anyone suffering from grand-mal seizures would experience accidents and injuries like tongue biting & urinary incontinence.


  1. 2. Absence

The main symptoms include:


  • Loss of consciousness briefly for some seconds
  • The patient interrupts an activity or stares blankly.
  • Seizures abruptly start & end; it might occur many times a day.
  • Patients aren’t aware of having a seizure.
  • The patient feels like “losing time.”


  1. 3. Myoclonic

The main symptoms are:


  • Sporadic & brief jerking movements; happens on both the sides of the patient’s body
  • Patients describe jerks as electrical shocks
  • Might become violent, and seizures result in involuntarily throwing or dropping objects


  1. 4. Clonic

The symptoms include:


  • Repetitive and rhythmic jerking movements
  • Jerking movements involve both the sides of the body simultaneously


  1. 5. Tonic

The primary symptoms are:


  • Muscle stiffness
  • Rigidity


  1. 6. Atonic

The primary symptoms are:


  • Consist of a general and sudden loss of the muscle tone
  • Happens particularly in legs and arms and might result in a fall


  1. B. Partial epilepsy classifications


  1. 1. Simple partial

The primary symptoms are partial & straightforward seizures, and they get further divided into four groups:


  • The motor symptoms are usually movements like jerking, muscle rigidity, stiffening, head-turning, and spasms.
  • The sensory symptoms generally involve the unusual sensations that affect all five senses (i.e., vision, smell, hearing, taste, and touch). [Note: Aura happens to be one term used for describing the sensory symptoms present]
  • The autonomic symptoms involve the unusual sensation in the stomach as termed the “gastric uprising.”
  • The psychological symptoms include multiple experiences with memory (sensation similar to déjà vu), complex psychological phenomena, and specific emotions (like pleasure and fear),


  1. 2. Complex partial

The main symptoms are:

  • Impairment of awareness
  • People may get “out of touch.”
  • They may end up “staring into space” during seizures.
  • Complex symptoms may also include automatisms [Automatisms comprise involuntary yet coordinated movements, which tend to get repetitive and purposelessand common automatisms are chewing, lip-smacking, walking around, and fidgeting]


  • 3. Partial seizure having secondary generalization

The symptoms are:

  • A partial seizure evolving into a generalized seizure
  • The seizure typically can be a generalized one or tonic-clonic

Around 70% of patients having partial seizures get controlled with proper medication. Partial uncontrolled seizures with medication may require a surgical procedure.


How to get disability for epilepsy?


Epilepsy is not necessarily disabling once it gets under control. Therefore, patients require proving epilepsy interferes with daily activities despite taking prescribed anticonvulsant medications (even for three months). Patients require showing that alcohol and drug use aren’t contributing to medicine’s lack of effectiveness.

Epilepsy qualifies for disability benefits only under specific circumferences. Adults having epilepsy can get the epilepsy disability allowance and receive benefits under some conditions. The SSA or Social Security Administration evaluates epilepsy regarding its type, duration, frequency, and the nature of seizures.


SSA mentions that if you have frequent seizures, it should be:

  • Generalized tonic-clonic occurring once each month (for three consecutive months)
  • Dyscognitive seizures occurring once each week (3 straight weeks)

SSA mentions that if you have less frequent seizures, it should be:

  • Physical functioning (balancing, standing, or using hands and arms)
  • Remembering, understanding, using details of work activities
  • Interacting with others
  • Persisting, concentrating, and maintaining pace
  • Controlling emotions and maintaining wellbeing


While claiming for SSD benefits to SSI for epilepsy, your application might get reviewed by a medical consultant and examiner. And if you get the eligibility for SSD benefits under disability for epilepsy, you require these documentations:


  • Diagnosis
  • Description of the seizure (pre & post symptoms)
  • Medical records
  • Seizures description from the third-party witness
  • Record mentioning the frequency of past seizures
  • EEG results
  • History of the treatment, including the medications


If you want to qualify under medical-vocational guideline, you would require documents:

  • Age
  • Educational level
  • Transferable work proficiencies
  • Other medical conditions
  • Any restrictions by your medical professional


The chances of SSDI epilepsy disability benefits get increased if the patient has less education and skills.


Contact our Disability Attorneys to seek genuine legal assistance.


We have a team of highly experienced social security disability attorney for epilepsy. They have handled numerous complex disability cases, including for people with epilepsy. Hence, we can take significant legal steps to win benefits for your ailment at the earliest.

Book a free consultation and discuss your concerns with our empathetic disability lawyers.


Common FAQs about Epilepsy disability benefit claims-

Epilepsy is a brain disorder, and if you face severe and frequent epileptic seizures for 12 months or more, you may qualify for disability benefits. People who cannot work due to epileptic seizures and your condition is expected to last for years.  If this condition interferes with your daytime activities, you may be able to get disability benefits.

You need documentations like Diagnosis, Description of the seizure (pre & post symptoms), Medical records, seizures description from the third-party witness, record mentioning the frequency of past seizures, EEG results, history of the treatment, and medications.

Hiring an attorney is always beneficial. As they have in-depth knowledge about the disability law, eligibility criteria, documents needed, etc. they can increase your chance to receive benefits without facing denials.