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Is Epilepsy A Disability?

Epilepsy is a debilitating condition that causes seizures, which can make working a full-time job difficult or impossible. Although seizures can be manageable with medication, the cost of the medicines can be quite high.

If you suffer from severe and regular epileptic seizures that impair your ability to work during the day, you may be eligible for financial assistance. Epileptic patients who are unable to work for at least 12 months due to their condition can file for benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA).

While you're unable to work, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits can help cover the costs of your housing, utilities, food, medications, and other necessities.

How to Qualify For Disability Benefits Due to Epilepsy?

Epilepsy is one of the medical conditions mentioned in the SSA's Blue Book, which indicates that if you meet the criteria listed for epilepsy, you may be eligible for disability benefits. SSA classifies epilepsy based on the type, regularity, duration, and intensity of the seizures.

The first is for convulsive seizures, which is covered in Listing 11.02. For convulsive seizers, you must demonstrate the following:

  • Seizures that occur during the day that cause you to convulse or lose consciousness.
  • Seizures that occur at night that have severe consequences such as difficulty staying up, thinking logically, or managing your physical movements.

On the other hand, listing 11.03 is for non-convulsive epilepsy. Apart from meeting the requirements, you must continue to have at least one seizure per week despite taking anti-seizure medication for at least three months and exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Daytime or nighttime seizures.
  • Seizures that result in significant symptoms, such as unusual behaviors, cognitive difficulty, a general fatigue, difficulty staying up, or other post-seizure illnesses that interfere with daily activities.

To qualify for disability benefits, you will need to provide sufficient evidence to substantiate your claim and to demonstrate the severity of your condition. 

Medically Qualifying Through RFC Analysis

Your consulting physician must fulfill a residual functional capacity (RFC) form, which is a detailed list of your abilities and limitations. You will be required to undergo an RFC analysis, which will entail you and your physician to complete "functional reports."

Other individuals, such as friends, family, or caregivers, may be invited to fill a report. These forms inform the SSA about how your condition affects your daily life and your capacity to perform routine tasks.

When filling up these forms, always make sure to be detailed and specific. In an accurate and honest manner, explain your physical, mental, and psychological limitations. To avoid unnecessary delays, do not leave any inquiries blank.

Medical Vocational Allowance

If you have epilepsy that prevents you from working but does not meet the stringent requirements listed in the Blue Book, you may be eligible for Medical Vocational Allowance benefits.

To qualify, you must illustrate that your seizures or the effects of your seizures are extreme enough that you are unable to work. If the Social Security Administration determines that you are unable to work due to your epilepsy, you may be approved for benefits even if you do not meet the Blue Book specifications.

The SSA will take into consideration your age, education, and transferability of your job skills to determine if you’re still qualified for disability benefits despite not making the cut in the Blue Book’s listings.

Applying For Social Security Disability

Epileptics who want to apply for disability benefits have two options: apply online or personally at their local Social Security Administration office. Making a personal appointment is the best way to apply for Social Security disability benefits.

You can submit a disability claim and also apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Bear in mind that SSI is a need-based program with guidelines regarding income and financial assets.

Furthermore, the SSA will require contact information for your primary care physician, any hospitals where you received emergency room or in-patient treatment, and any other healthcare provider you've visited. This will enable them to acquire your medical records, which are necessary for benefit approval.

Takeaway

If the Social Security Administration determines that you are unable to work due to your epilepsy, you may be granted disability benefits. However, keep in mind that in order to be eligible for disability benefits, you must be unable to work full-time for any type of job.

Filing for a disability claim can be a complicated and overwhelming process. To learn more about Social Security Disability, head over to Disability Help today!

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Chloe Powers
Chloe works with policymakers on behalf of Disability Help to support their work at a strategic level, ensuring the conditions are in place for creative individuals and organizations to grow, reach their potential and effect relevant, sustainable change.
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