How To Get Disability Benefits for Epilepsy
Epilepsy is a chronic health condition that causes repeated seizures that may adversely affect an individual’s physical and mental health. An individual diagnosed with this condition may experience recurrent seizures that affect their overall quality of life. The treatment of Epilepsy entirely depends on the severity of the condition. It can be cured with certain antiseizure medications that are available by prescription.
Seizures can also make you ill for several hours. Oftentimes, doctors are unable to determine the cause of seizures. If you are suffering from recurrent seizures, you should consider applying for Social Security disability benefits. Applying for disability benefits can be complicated. When applying for benefits, one should first determine whether the condition is listed in the Social Security Administration’s Blue Book. Continue reading for more information about the process for getting disability benefits.
Is Epilepsy a Disability?
Epilepsy is one of the many conditions that the Social Security Administration (SSA) has listed in their Blue Book list of impairments. The condition causes seizures, which may lead to difficulty in working and performing other activities of normal everyday living. It often becomes difficult for a person with Epilepsy to focus on their work because of the condition.
There is no cure for Epilepsy; though in many cases, it can be controlled with medication and other treatment options. In serious cases, surgery may be the only option to decrease the number of seizures. Seizures can limit the number of tasks an individual can perform or the environments in which they can be employed. Adults diagnosed with this condition can seek disability benefits when the condition is limiting their ability to maintain gainful employment. Epilepsy is considered a disability. Therefore, you can get disability benefits for it.
If you have been diagnosed with Epilepsy, this guide is for you. It will help you understand whether you qualify for disability benefits or not. If you qualify, it will also explain how to apply for disability benefits and who to contact for assistance.
Do I Qualify for Disability Benefits for Epilepsy?
The Blue Book lists impairments the SSA considers debilitating to such a degree that they prevent someone from working. It outlines the medical criteria for determining whether an applicant can receive disability benefits. To establish entitlement to disability benefits in accordance with the Blue Book, your condition must meet the criteria described by the listing and must have lasted or be expected to last for at least 12 months, or result in death. You will have to provide relevant medical documentation and other evidence showing that the condition interferes with your ability to work and function effectively.
In accordance with Blue Book Listing 11.02, you must have documented evidence of seizures that are characterized by one of the following, despite adherence to prescribed treatments:
- Generalized tonic-clonic seizures occurring at least once a month for at least 3 consecutive months; or
- Dyscognitive seizures occurring at least once a week for at least 3 consecutive months; or
- Generalized tonic-clonic seizures occurring at least once every 2 months for at least 4 consecutive months and a marked limitation in one of the following:
- Physical functioning; or
- Understanding, remembering, or applying information; or
- Interacting with others; or
- Concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace; or
- Adapting or managing oneself; or
- Dyscognitive seizures occurring at least once every 2 weeks for at least 3 consecutive months and a marked limitation in one of the areas noted above (e.g. physical functioning, etc.)
Can You Get Disability Benefits for Epilepsy if You Do Not Meet the Blue Book Criteria?
Not everyone with debilitating seizures will meet the criteria noted above even if their condition prevents them from working. If you do not meet the medical criteria noted in the Blue Book, you may still establish entitlement to benefits through the medical-vocational guidelines. The SSA will consider your residual functional capacity (RFC) to alternatively determine eligibility under this criteria. A doctor will have to complete the appropriate RFC form to determine the extent of any physical limitations. Any symptoms that have a severe impact should be noted on the form.
In addition to symptoms, the examiner will analyze the following factors:
- Level of education
- Residual Functional Capacity
- Transferable work skills
- Past job experience
- Any physical and mental health issues that affect your ability to work
The form should also list any restrictions noted by your doctor.
The fewer vocational skills you possess and the less educated you are, the greater the chances you may have of being approved to receive disability benefits. Also, any additional medical condition that contributes to limiting your abilities further increases the chances of being approved for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits.
There are separate rules for Disability Over 50. So, if you are over the age of 50 years old and want to seek disability benefits, you should speak with attorneys to learn more.
Evidence Required for Applying for Disability Benefits for Epilepsy
No matter what condition you are applying for, you will have to submit a complete record of medical documentation and evidence with your application to be approved for a disability claim. If you do not have complete records and evidence, your application may be denied. Therefore, you should focus on collecting all relevant evidence and records that demonstrate the extent of your disability or disabilities. Here are some examples of documents that you should submit with your application:
- Medical records showing a diagnosis of the condition
- A detailed description of the seizures
- Witness statements from family and friends that describe the seizures
- Detailed notes from your doctor describing the seizures
- Electroencephalogram (EEG) results
- Documents and details of the treatment history
- Evidence showing the frequency of the seizures
How Long Does It Take To Get Approved for Benefits?
Before you commence with the application, you should ensure that you have all the documents SSA will need to make its determination. The SSA may reject your application for incomplete evidence. The Social Security office can take anywhere from three months to six months to decide your application. The disability process can be lengthy. You can contact Disability lawyers to help you with the process.
If your application is denied, you may consider filing an appeal. Some cases even reach the trial and hearing stage. You should be aware that a hearing will be held before an administrative law judge (ALJ) at the nearest Social Security office. Obtain representation from a lawyer to help prepare for the hearing before the ALJ. Our legal team will stand by your side at every step of the process.