Disability Benefits for Epilepsy

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Is Epilepsy A Disability: Facts & Facets To Know

Epilepsy is a chronic disorder of the brain characterized by recurring seizures. It may be caused by genetic abnormalities or brain injury, but often the source is unknown. Seizure symptoms can range from simple staring spells or convulsions to total loss of consciousness. 

Disability Benefits for EpilepsySeizures vary in frequency among people diagnosed with epilepsy.  Many people greatly reduce the frequency with which seizures occur through medication and proper treatment, with some becoming completely seizure free after a few years of treatment.  Others, however, will continue to experience frequent, uncontrollable seizures. Adults diagnosed with epilepsy may be entitled to disability benefits from the Social Security Administration.

At Berke Law Firm, P.A., we have a talented team of legal professionals who understand epilepsy disability benefits. If you have a disability that is expected to last for 12 months or more, you may be entitled to disability benefits. 

An Overview of the Mental Disorder: Types & Symptoms

Seizure type mental disorders are generally classified into two groups – Generalized and Partial. Before learning the process of getting disability for epilepsy, it is helpful to understand the different types of seizure disorders and their symptoms.

  1. Generalized – Characterized by abnormal electrical impulses distributed broadly throughout the brain.
  2. Partial (a.k.a. Focal or Localized) – Characterized by electrical impulses localized within a specific part of the brain.

Generalized and Partial groups are further organized into classifications based on their symptoms:

  • Generalized epilepsy classifications
  • Generalized tonic-clonic
  • First, the patient loses consciousness and could collapse
  • Second, the patient experiences body stiffening, called the “tonic” phase
  • Third, the patient experiences uncontrollable and violent jerking, called the “clonic” phase
  • Finally, deep sleep, called the “postictal” or “after seizure” phase

It is important to note that anyone suffering a grand-mal seizure can experience accidents and injuries like tongue biting & urinary incontinence.

  1. Absence

The main symptoms include:

  • Momentary loss of consciousness 
  • The patient interrupts an activity or stares blankly
  • Begins and ends abruptly several times a day
  • Patients aren’t aware of having a seizure
  • The patient simply feels like they have lost time
  • Myoclonic

The main symptoms are:

  • Sporadic and brief jerking movements, typically on both the sides of the body
  • Jerks are described as feeling like electrical shocks
  • Might become violent, and seizures result in involuntarily throwing or dropping objects
  • Clonic

The symptoms include:

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

The primary symptoms are:

  • Muscle stiffness
  • Rigidity
  • Atonic

The primary symptoms are:

  • Consists of a general and sudden loss of muscle tone
  • Happens particularly in the legs and arms and might result in a fall
  1. Partial epilepsy classifications
  • Simple partial

Simple partial seizures are further divided into four groups according to symptoms:

  • The motor symptoms are usually movements like jerking, muscle rigidity, stiffening, head-turning, and spasms
  • Unusual sensations affecting all five senses (i.e., vision, smell, hearing, taste, and touch)
  • Autonomic symptoms including unusual sensations in the stomach, termed “gastric uprising”
  • Psychological symptoms including memory phenomena similar to déjà vu, complex psychological phenomena, and specific emotions like pleasure and fear
  • Complex partial

The main symptoms are:

  • Impairment of awareness
  • People may feel “out of touch”
  • People may “stare into space” during seizures
  • Complex symptoms may also include automatisms.  Automatisms are involuntary yet coordinated movements, which tend to be repetitive and purposeless.  Common automatisms are chewing, lip-smacking, walking around, and fidgeting
  • 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 with partial seizures can have seizures controlled with proper medication. Seizures uncontrolled after the use of medication may require a surgical procedure.

How to Get Disability for Epilepsy?

Epilepsy may not be disabling if it can be controlled. To establish disability, patients will have to prove that epilepsy interferes with daily activities despite taking prescribed anticonvulsant medications for as long as three months. In some cases, patients may have to prove that alcohol and drug use aren’t contributing to the medicine’s lack of effectiveness.

Epilepsy qualifies for disability benefits only under specific circumstances. Adults with epilepsy may be entitled to an epilepsy disability allowance and receive benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) evaluates epilepsy according to its type, duration, frequency, and nature of seizures.  The specific criteria to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits for epilepsy is complicated and lengthy.

While claiming SSI for epilepsy, your application may be reviewed by a medical examiner. The medical examiner will want to review several pieces of information, including:

  • Diagnosis
  • Description of the seizure (pre & post symptoms)
  • Medical records
  • Witness statements
  • Record mentioning the frequency of past seizures
  • EEG results
  • History of the treatment, including medications

To qualify under medical-vocational guidelines, you would also be required to provide documentation of:

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

Generally, the chances of SSDI epilepsy disability benefits being approved are improved if the applicant is older, with less education or skills.

Contact our Disability Attorneys to seek genuine legal assistance.

We have a team of highly experienced social security disability attorneys who understand the epilepsy claims process. They have handled numerous complex disability cases, including for those with epilepsy. We can take swift action to help you win benefits for your illness as soon as possible.

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

Common FAQs about Epilepsy disability benefit claims-

  • Will Epilepsy qualify for disability benefits?

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 are often unable to work due to epileptic seizures and your condition can be anticipated to last for years.  If this condition interferes with your activities of daily living, you may be able to receive disability benefits

  • What documents do we need for epilepsy disability benefits?

Documentation of an epilepsy diagnosis, a description of the seizures (pre & post symptoms), other relevant medical records, witness statements, records of past seizure frequency, EEG results, history of treatment, and medications.

  • When do you require hiring an SSD attorney for the case?

Hiring an attorney is always beneficial, as they have in-depth knowledge about disability law, the claims process, eligibility criteria, documents needed, etc. They can improve your chances of receiving benefits quickly.