Can I Get Approved for Social Security Disability if I have Epilepsy and Seizures?
Epilepsy is a disorder of the brain that causes frequent seizures for many. It can be due to cerebral palsy or strokes, but many times there is no known cause. The symptoms of a seizure can be minor or major, and they range from staring spells to convulsions and loss of consciousness. The seizures can also vary in frequency. Some may have seizures a few times a year while others may have seizures many times a week. In order to be diagnosed with epilepsy you must have had two unprovoked seizures.
Epilepsy is normally treated with medications, which can be helpful for many in reducing the frequency of the seizures but sometimes the medications don't help at all. Even a mild seizure can be dangerous if they happen while you’re driving or showering, and could affect your ability to perform certain work activities.
Can I Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits Due to Epilepsy?
Yes you can. Adults with epilepsy may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) evaluates epilepsy according to the type of seizure, frequency, duration, and nature. But just because you have been diagnosed with epilepsy, doesnt mean you are automatically entitled to receive social security disability benefits. This is because, epilepsy isn’t necessarily disabling if it’s well-controlled. So, you will need to prove that your epilepsy interferes with your daily activities even though you take medications as prescribed for at least three months.
When reviewing your file and medical records, SSA will be looking for:
a firm diagnosis of epilepsy
a detailed description of your seizures, including all pre- and post-seizure symptoms
a statement from your doctor supporting your account of the nature and frequency of your seizures
a description of your seizures from any third-party's such as family members or friends
a seizure diary indicating the frequency of your past seizures
results of an EEG, and
a detailed treatment history, including medications and other treatments that you’ve tried and whether those treatments have provided any benefit.
Qualifying for Benefits Under the SSA’s Official Listing for Epilepsy
SSA provides a list of requirements to qualify for disability benefits based on epilepsy. You'll need to refer to listing 11.02, for convulsive and nonconvulsive epilepsy. The criteria you need to meet to qualify under this listing will come down to the type and frequency of your seizures.
If you suffer from Frequent Seizures
You will now need to show:
generalized tonic-clonic (grand mal) seizures that occur at least once a month for three consecutive months, OR
dyscognitive seizures that occur at least once a week for three consecutive months.
If you suffer from Less Frequent Seizures
If you have less frequent seizures, you may be able to qualify if you also have a "marked" (severe) limitation in one of the following areas:
physical functioning, such as standing, balancing, or using your arms and hands
understanding, remembering, or using information in work activities
interacting with others
concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace, or
controlling emotions and behavior and maintaining well-being in a workplace setting.
You must also suffer from:
generalized tonic-clonic seizures that occur at least once every other month for four consecutive months, or
dyscognitive seizures that occur at least once every other week for three consecutive months.
Qualifying Under Medical-Vocational Guidelines
Even if you don't meet listing 11.02, you can still qualify for disability benefits if the symptoms of your epilepsy interfere with your daily activities to an extent that there are no jobs you could perform. When making this determination, your SSA disability examiner will analyze your medical records including medical diagnosis, as well as consider other factors, such as:
your level of education
whether you have any transferable work skills from your previous work
any other medical/psychiatric conditions that affect your ability to work, and
any restrictions that your doctor has given you, such as no driving, or no working around heavy machinery.
However, keep in mind that in order to be approved for disability benefits, you need to be unable to show that you cannot perform ANY kind of work on a full time basis, not even the simplest of jobs out there.
If you are older, such as age 50+, with a limited education, and few transferable work skills, you will have a better chance of being awarded benefits. Having additional medical problems on top of your epilepsy also increase the likelihood of your claim being approved, as well as having your treating doctor provide their own medical narrative or opinion regarding your inability to work.
If you have any additional questions, please feel free to reach out to me at 210-885-3408.