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Is Epilepsy a Disability?

Yes, epilepsy is considered a disability by the Social Security Administration (SSA), listed under neurological disorders. Epilepsy can be a debilitating condition that affects your daily life, especially epilepsy, causing seizures, can hinder work and daily activities, making it challenging to focus. Many individuals with the disorder suffer from physical and cognitive impairments because of it. Epilepsy can also lead to other health issues like meningitis, depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and brain-related conditions, further impacting an individual’s ability to maintain gainful employment.

However, securing long-term disability insurance for this condition requires more than just a diagnosis. To convince the insurance company of the disabling nature of your epilepsy, your claim must demonstrate how it affects your ability to work. Merely having an epilepsy diagnosis may not be sufficient to persuade the insurance company of your disability. Unfortunately, many people who are truly disabled do not get the help they need because insurance companies often take a lot of convincing.

To enhance your chances of approval, it’s advisable to collaborate with an experienced Clearwater disability attorney at Anderson & Ackerman Law Group . They can guide you through the claim process, addressing crucial aspects of your epilepsy long-term insurance claim and increasing the likelihood of a successful outcome.

Epilepsy Disability Benefits

What is Epilepsy?

Epilepsy is one of the most commonly diagnosed brain disorders that can be a serious and potentially life-threatening condition. It is a central nervous system disorder in which abnormal brain activity causes a number of different symptoms. However, it is most commonly associated with seizures. For some people, epilepsy can interfere with their daily life and can affect their ability to work. It can also be called as  a neurological disorder in which brain activity becomes abnormal and leads to a seizure disorder or a disturbance in the electrical activity of the brain.  Epilepsy is typically not diagnosed until an individual has at least two unprovoked seizures.

Types of Epilepsy

There are 4 types of epilepsy. Each has slight variations in symptoms, triggers, and parts of the brain that are affected. The 4 classifications are generalized, focal, combined generalized & focal, and unknown.

  • Generalized Epilepsy: In this type, stiffening of muscles takes place followed by groans. This usually begins during childhood. However, there can be generalized epilepsy in adults. . They often deal with motor (physical movement) and non-motor seizures. Motor symptoms may include sustained rhythmical jerking movements (clonic), muscles becoming weak or limp. Non-motor symptoms are usually called absence seizures. These can be typical or atypical seizures that result in staring spells. Absence seizures can also be seen in brief twitching of a specific part of the body, like the eyelid. In extreme cases, people lose consciousness and their legs and arms start to jerk.

  • Focal Epilepsy: This type often deals with focal seizures, which only affect one part of the brain at a time. In some cases, the seizure can move from one section of the brain to another. Focal seizures often begin with an “aura,” which is a series of minor symptoms that signify an onset seizure. Often, this includes an uneasy feeling in the stomach. During a focal seizure, the individual can experience a combination of both motor and non-motor symptoms. 

Motor symptoms in epilepsy can involve jerking, limp or weak muscles, tense muscles, brief spasms, and repeated automatic movements like clapping or biting. Non-motor symptoms include changes in emotions, sensations, or cognition, such as waves of heat or cold or a racing heart.

Focal seizures come in two types: those without loss of consciousness and those with impaired awareness. Without loss of consciousness, they may cause altered emotions, involuntary jerking of body parts (usually arms or legs), and sensory symptoms like dizziness. Focal seizures with impaired awareness involve a change or loss of consciousness.

  • Combined Generalized & Focal: Someone diagnosed with Combined Generalized & Focal epilepsy experiences all of the above seizure types. Because of this, they might experience a wide assortment of symptoms. Combined epilepsy is often linked with other conditions, such as Dravet Syndrome.
  • Unknown: Unknown epilepsy refers to a classification in which doctors cannot determine where the seizures are originating from. Often, those with unknown epilepsy suffer from a wide assortment of motor and non-motor symptoms. Often, those with unknown epilepsy can experience tonic-clonic seizures. 

These seizures typically include symptoms like stiffening, loss of consciousness, rapid rhythmic jerking, trouble breathing, bluish face due to lack of oxygen, and loss of bladder/bowel control. They usually last between 1 and 3 minutes; if lasting longer than 5 minutes, emergency services should be contacted immediately. Unknown epilepsy may present with non-motor symptoms, such as a sudden stop in movement, vacant staring, and stillness.

Symptoms of Epilepsy

Generally, the primary symptom of epilepsy is repeating seizures. However, there are a number of other symptoms that you may experience. These can also play a role in how your condition limits your ability to work. The most common symptoms include:

  • Anxiety and Depression;
  • Sweating. And Convulsions without fever;
  • Intense headaches;
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control, often during fainting or seizures;
  • Panic Attacks; 
  • Involuntary movements, especially of the arms and legs;
  • Staring into space;
  • Stiffening then loosening of muscles;
  • Fainting spells and Loss of consciousness;
  • Rapid eye blinking;
  • Memory Issues and Confusion;
  • Extreme Fatigue and Nausea; 
  • Mood swings; and 
  • Short blackouts

These symptoms can certainly effect an individual’s ability to maintain employment. This is also important for building your long-term disability insurance claim. It is also easy for some individuals to overlook their cognitive symptoms and focus on the physical ones. However, cognitive symptoms can often be just as debilitating.

Can You get disability for epilepsy?

Disability benefits for epilepsy can provide financial relief for many individuals with this condition. If you are diagnosed with epilepsy and cannot work for at least 12 months, you’re a good candidate for benefits. The Social Security Administration considers epilepsy to be a qualifying condition for disability benefits. This means that if you’ve been diagnosed with epilepsy and are unable to work for an extended period of time, you have a high chance of being granted benefits.

Adults and children with severe, uncontrolled Epilepsy can qualify you for SSD benefits. SSDI benefits are meant for those whose seizures are so severe that they cannot work. This means that even when taking your medications, seizures still occur on a weekly or monthly basis. In other words, you must have break through seizures, despite taking your medication. You will have to provide relevant medical documentation and other evidence showing that your epilepsy interferes with your ability to work and function.

How to Apply for Social Security Benefits with Epilepsy?

You can apply for Social Security epilepsy Disability benefits online, over the phone, or in person at your local Social Security Administration office. Applying for SSDI and SSI for epilepsy is not simple, but with the right epilepsy support and counsel, you can pursue the benefits that are rightfully yours. We recommend utilizing the services of your SSD attorney to file for benefits. Your attorney will ensure the completeness of your application and can handle the submission of your medical records and other necessary information along with your SSD application. They know how to deal with the Social Security Administration to seek approval. If your claim was already denied, they can help with an appeal. They can even help you pursue backpay for past-due benefits.

Disability Claim Denied? Contact A Disability Law Firm

If your initial application is denied, don’t be discouraged. Most are, and you will have the opportunity to appeal. Speaking with an attorney will help you discover what options are available and if appealing your SSDI or SSI claim denial is possible. Your chances for approval are increased significantly if you have legal representation. At each potential stage of the process, from the initial application stage, the reconsideration stage and the administrative law judge  (ALJ) hearing stage, an attorney can assist you in completing the detailed forms and questionnaires required by Social Security, collecting and submitting relevant medical evidence, and preparing questionnaires for your doctors. 

You should be aware that a hearing will be held before ALJ at the nearest Social Security office At the ALJ hearing phase an attorney will not only continue to assure that the evidence is complete, but prepare you for questioning by the ALJ, prepare an argument on your behalf and question any doctors or vocational experts selected by the ALJ to testify at the hearing. At the Appeals Council and federal court level, a lawyer can present legal arguments to show your case was wrongfully denied.  If you or someone you love has epilepsy, get the support and representation you need at Anderson & Ackerman Law Group.

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