There are currently 3.4 million people living with an epilepsy diagnosis in the United States. Epilepsy affects each individual differently, and some people with epilepsy cannot work due to the severity of their symptoms. If you have been diagnosed with epilepsy and cannot work, you can pursue a claim for Social Security benefits to help you pay for expenses such as food, housing, and utilities.
Applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits for epilepsy can be a challenging and complicated process. The experienced disability benefits attorneys at Disability Advocates Group are here to help you through every step of the process. We can also help you pursue an appeal if your initial application is denied. Contact Disability Advocates Group to schedule a free case evaluation and learn whether you may be entitled to monthly Social Security benefits.
Is Epilepsy Considered A Disability?
Yes, the Social Security Administration considers epilepsy a disability. If your symptoms from epilepsy make it impossible for you to work full-time, you may be eligible for social security disability benefits (SSDI). Individuals with epilepsy have a wide range of symptoms, and they may experience convulsive or non-convulsive seizures. Seizure episodes can occur while awake or asleep and are only one aspect of many different symptoms individuals with epilepsy can experience.
Symptoms of Epilepsy
In addition to seizures, individuals with epilepsy can suffer from fatigue, aphasia, and other symptoms that precede and follow seizure episodes. Even after the seizure, individuals with epilepsy may experience ongoing symptoms for several hours, making it impossible for them to engage in day-to-day tasks.
For example, when an individual with epilepsy has seizures multiple times per week or even daily, it can take most of the day to recover from their seizures. Working full-time can become impossible when someone spends so much time recovering from seizures. Other symptoms of epilepsy include the following:
- Strange sensations
- Unusual smells or tastes
- Tingling in the arms or legs
- Becoming stiff
- Losing awareness
- Staring blankly into space
- Uncontrollable jerking and shaking
- Urinary incontinence
Individuals with epilepsy frequently require ongoing medical treatment. Epilepsy treatment can involve diagnostic tests to pinpoint the cause of the patient’s seizures and anticonvulsant medications. The most common medications for epilepsy are divalproex sodium (Depakote), phenytoin (Dilantin), and carbamazepine (Tegretol, Carbatrol). Many patients with epilepsy may need to visit the emergency room frequently because of uncontrolled seizures.
Emergency room visits can cost tens of thousands of dollars per year. Even when a person diagnosed with epilepsy can continue working, the costs due to ongoing seizures are staggering. However, when an epileptic individual cannot work because of frequent seizures, the cost can be insurmountable. Thankfully, those with frequent seizures that render them unable to maintain ongoing employment may qualify for SSDI benefits.
Qualifying for Epilepsy Benefits Through the Blue Book
The Social Security Administration uses the Blue Book manual to determine whether an applicant is eligible for benefits. The Blue Book includes convulsive and non-convulsive epilepsy as eligible medical conditions. Suppose you have been diagnosed with epilepsy and you apply for SSDI benefits. In that case, the staff member who reviews your claim will compare Your unique medical history to the appropriate listing to determine whether you are eligible for benefits.
Your epilepsy symptoms must be severe and uncontrolled by medications to be eligible. You must also show that you have followed your doctor’s treatment orders carefully. An experienced disability attorney can help you ensure that the medical records and documentation you submit with your application prove that your condition closely matches the type of epileptic seizures you have.
difficulty staying awake, a lack of energy, difficulty thinking, unusual behaviors, and other posts seizure symptoms that interrupt daytime activities. To qualify under the non-convulsive epilepsy listing, you must also show that you continue to experience seizures at least once a week, even after taking anti-seizure medications consistently for at least three months.
The Blue Book defines convulsive seizures in listing 11.02. Convulsive seizures are daytime seizures that cause you to convulse or lose consciousness. Convulsive seizures also include nighttime seizures that cause severe complications during the day. Examples of severe complications include difficulty with staying awake, thinking clearly, and coordinating physical movements. You also need to show that you continue to have seizures at least once a month after you’ve been on anti-seizure medication for at least three months.
Applicants can also be eligible for benefits when they have non-convulsive epilepsy, as defined in listing 11.03. Non-convulsive seizures occur during the day or night and cause you to experience profound issues after each seizure.
Qualifying for Disability Benefits through a Residual Functional Capacity Analysis
If your disability doesn’t closely match one of the blue book listings, but you are unable to work, you may still be eligible for disability benefits. You must go through a residual functional capacity (RFC) analysis. You and your doctor will be required to complete functional reports, and other people who know you well, such as your caregivers, friends, or family, may also be asked to complete a report.
These reports will shed light on how your disability affects your day-to-day life and you can complete daily tasks. A disability attorney can help you complete these forms thoroughly and accurately to give the claims examiner a better picture of how your epilepsy prevents you from working.
Contact an Experienced Social Security Disability Attorney in Los Angeles
Applying for Social Security Disability benefits with epilepsy can be challenging. The application process requires applicants to submit many different medical forms and other types of information. Working with an attorney will give you the best chance possible of obtaining the disability benefits you need and deserve. The attorneys at Disability Advocates Group have extensive experience helping our clients appeal the denial of benefits. If you’ve been diagnosed with epilepsy and want to learn more about how we can help you pursue the benefits you need, contact Disability Advocates Group.