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Can I Get Disability for Epilepsy?

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There are several different pathways to obtaining Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) considers certain conditions to automatically qualify an applicant for disability benefits, while other ailments may require additional proof of the severity of the limitations caused by the condition. Conditions that qualify as a disability are listed in the SSA’s Blue Book. Even applicants suffering from a condition with a listing, however, must satisfy certain requirements to obtain benefits. Read on to learn about how the Social Security Administration treats epilepsy for the purposes of disability benefits. For expert advice and assistance obtaining SSI and SSDI benefits, talk to a seasoned California Social Security Disability benefits attorney.

Epilepsy is a Qualifying Disability

Epilepsy can be a severely debilitating condition. People with epilepsy may experience convulsive or non-convulsive seizures while awake or asleep and may suffer from a number of additional debilitating symptoms. People with epilepsy may also face fatigue, aphasia (difficulty or inability to express speech), and other serious symptoms. They may be unable to perform normal tasks for minutes or hours following an episode. If an epileptic person suffers multiple seizures a week, or multiple episodes a day, they might be unable to perform many daily activities, let alone work a normal job.

The SSA recognizes how debilitating epilepsy may be. Epilepsy is listed in the SSA’s Blue Book as a condition that may qualify as a disability. Applicants who’ve paid sufficient taxes into the Social Security system may qualify for SSDI based on epilepsy, while low-income applicants may qualify for SSI. To qualify for benefits based on epilepsy, the applicant’s condition must satisfy certain criteria.

Epilepsy is addressed in disability listing 11.02. The listing includes different requirements depending on the type of seizures suffered by the applicant:

  • Tonic-clonic seizures are convulsive seizures; “tonic” refers to stiffening, and “clonic” means rhythmical jerking. Applicants suffering from tonic-clonic seizures can obtain benefits if they fall into either category below:

    • The patient suffers from generalized tonic-clonic seizures at least once a month for at least three consecutive months, despite treatments.
    • The patient suffers from generalized tonic-clonic seizures at least once every two months for at least two consecutive months, despite treatments, and suffers a “marked limitation” in at least one of the following:

      • Physical functioning
      • Understanding, remembering, or applying information
      • Interacting with others
      • Concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace
      • Adapting or managing oneself
  • Dyscognitive seizures are nonconvulsive seizures that cause impairments in perception, attention, emotion, or other cognitive functioning. Applicants suffering from dyscognitive seizures can obtain benefits if they fall into either category below:

    • The patient suffers from dyscognitive seizures at least once a week for at least three consecutive months, despite treatments.
    • The patient suffers from dyscognitive seizures at least once every two weeks for at least three consecutive months, despite treatments, and suffers a “marked limitation” in at least one of the following:

      • Physical functioning
      • Understanding, remembering, or applying information
      • Interacting with others
      • Concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace
      • Adapting or managing oneself

Applicants who suffer from epilepsy but whose condition does not meet the above requirements may still qualify for disability benefits if they can demonstrate that epilepsy interferes with their ability to work to such an extent that they are unable to hold down a job. The SSA will consider the applicant’s ability to work in light of their condition as well as their prior job experience, age, education, and training.

Call Today for Help Fighting for the Disability Benefits You Deserve

For help collecting disability benefits or appealing a disability benefits denial in Southern California or statewide, call the knowledgeable and accomplished Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income (SSDI/SSI) attorneys of Drake & Drake at 818-914-4055.

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