If you experience epileptic seizures, you may qualify for Social Security Disability
Author Attorney Greg Reed:
Epilepsy is surprisingly common. Nearly 4% of Americans will develop epilepsy, making it the fourth most common neurological disorder. Seizures are the defining symptom of epilepsy, however, not all seizures are epileptic. A seizure is only epileptic if it caused by a misfiring of electrical signals in the brain. The symptoms are similar, but treatment varies greatly for non-epileptic seizures. There are several types of epileptic seizures.
Grand-mal seizures, also known as tonic-clonic seizures, are the most recognizable type of seizure.
Tonic refers to loss of consciousness and stiffening, and clonic refers to uncontrollable muscle spasms. A seizure could simply be tonic, meaning the individual loses consciousness. This may lead to unresponsiveness and difficulty breathing. A clonic seizure involves involuntary movements. Generally this is a rhythmic waving of the arms or sitting up. At the end of a severe clonic or grand mal seizure, it is common for the individual to let out a deep breath and fall asleep.
Absence, or petit mal, seizures are less dramatic and often mistaken for ADHD.
During an absence seizure, the individual stares blankly and loses awareness for a few seconds. Generally they return to a normal state immediately after the seizure.
Myoclonic and Atonic seizures affect muscle tone.
Atonic seizures are more likely to cause injury as they are a dramatic, sudden loss of muscle tone. The sudden loss of muscle tone often causes the individual to fall to the ground. Myoclonic seizures occur in the same area of the brain, so if a patient suffers from one, they likely suffer from the other as well. Myoclonic seizures are a sudden increase in muscle tone, generally causing spasm and immobility.
The above listed are all types of general seizure- they affect the entire brain and body. Epilepsy can also cause partial seizures- a seizure in one area of the brain. The affected individual may or may not lose consciousness during a partial seizure.
Severe dramatic seizures are relatively uncommon, but it is important to know what to do if you see one occur.
It is important to stay calm and clear the area so the person will not accidently bump into anything. It used to be thought that someone having a seizure was at risk of swallowing their tongue. This cannot happen. It is very dangerous to try to put anything in the individual’s mouth or restrain them. The biggest risk to someone having a seizure is the possibility of injury from falling or bumping into something.
The causes of epilepsy are not well-known.
There is a correlation between brain injury and epilepsy. Other possible causes include low oxygen during birth, infection, stroke and genetics. Generally, the very young and very old are most susceptible to epilepsy. It’s easy to see how epilepsy could limit an individual’s ability to work. Most obviously, epilepsy would be a major safety risk in any career involving driving or operating heavy machinery.
The Social Security Administration has two listings for epilepsy- Convulsive and Nonconvulsive.
Convulsive epilepsy will qualify for Social Security Disability insurance if the applicant has seizures more than once per month after following prescribed treatment for three months and these seizures either occur during the day or interfere with daytime activity. Nonconvulsive epilepsy requires more frequent seizures- weekly rather than monthly, as well as following treatment for three months, and either occur during the day or interfere with daytime activity.
It is important to note that “following treatment for three months” includes following all protocols set forth by your health care provider.
Epileptics are often instructed to abstain from alcohol, and it is possible to be denied benefits for not following that instruction. Additionally, it should be noted that even if you do not meet these listings, it may still be possible to collect benefits if you are unable to work due to your condition.
In order to qualify for Social Security Disability, you will need to satisfy a few specific requirements in two categories as determined by the Social Security Administration.
The first category is the Work Requirements which has two tests.
- The Duration of Work test. Whether you have worked long enough to be covered under SSDI.
- The Current Work Test. Whether you worked recently enough for the work to actually count toward coverage.
The second category is the Medical Eligibility Requirement.
- Are you working? Your disability must be “total”.
- Is your medical condition severe? Your disability must be “severe” enough to interfere with your ability to perform basic work-related activities, such as walking, sitting, and remembering.
- Is your medical condition on the List of Impairments? The SSA has a “List of Impairments” that automatically qualify as “severe” disabilities. If your disease is not listed this does not mean you cannot get disability, it means you must prove you cannot maintain employment due to your limitations.
- Can you do the work you did before? SSDI rules look at whether your medical condition prevents you from doing the work you did prior to developing the condition.
- Can you do any other type of work? If you cannot do your prior work, an evaluation is made as to whether you can perform any other kind of work.
More details can be found on our Qualifying for Disability page.
Even if you do not meet the listing, it is still possible to get Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. You may be eligible for Long Term Disability benefits as well if you are too injured or ill to continue working. The down side is that it is often very difficult to obtain benefits. Long wait times, mountains of paperwork, and unfriendly, unhelpful service is common when dealing with either a private insurer or the Social Security Administration. Having professional representation can help alleviate some of the difficulty associated with filing a disability claim. The attorneys at Bemis, Roach and Reed have experience handling disability claims and know how to present a claim in the best light. If you have applied for benefits and been denied, get a professional on your side. Call the attorneys at Bemis, Roach and Reed for a risk-free consultation at no cost to you.Call 512-454-4000 and get help NOW.
Author: Attorney Greg Reed has been practicing law for 29 years. He is Superlawyers rated by Thomson Reuters and is Top AV Preeminent® and Client Champion Gold rated by Martindale Hubbell. Through his extensive litigation Mr. Reed obtained board certification from the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Greg is admitted to practice in the United States District Court - all Texas Districts and the United States Court of Appeals-Fifth Circuit. Mr. Reed is a member of the Travis County Bar Association, Texas Trial Lawyers Association, past Director of the Capital Area Trial Lawyers Association, and an Associate member of the American Board of Trial Advocates. Mr. Reed and all the members of Bemis, Roach & Reed have been active participants in the Travis County Lawyer referral service.
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