Can I qualify for disability benefits if I am suffering from Seizure Disorders?
If you are suffering from Seizures and Seizure Disorders you may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. The Social Security Administration has specific language and conditions related to qualifying for benefits while experiencing symptoms of seizure disorders such as epilepsy.
A seizure is a sudden discharge of electrical activity in the brain which may cause dramatic changes in how a person looks or acts for a short period of time.
It may result in dramatic symptoms such as twitching, muscle spasms, loss of consciousness and even changes in behavior or feeling, or it may not cause any symptoms at all. A seizure is a one-time event, while more than one seizure is diagnosed as a seizure disorder. Though often called convulsions, fits or spells, the correct term is seizure.
Seizures can first be categorized as “provoked” or “unprovoked.” Provoked seizures are caused by an event like a brain injury, while unprovoked seizures are the result of genetic factors, metabolic imbalances, or natural causes.
Seizures are also differentiated by their origin in the brain.
Simple partial seizures, also called focal seizures, begin in a specific part of the brain and spread to other areas. Symptoms include dizziness, vision and sensory changes, and muscle twitching, but awareness is not affected. Complex partial seizures begin in a specific part of the brain and cause loss of consciousness. Generalized seizures begin on both sides of the brain and spread rapidly over the entire surface of the brain. Treatment is more challenging for generalized seizures because determining the seizure’s origin is difficult.
There are several types of generalized seizures:
- Absence seizures, or petit mal seizures, where a person seems to be staring into space for a few seconds and suddenly becomes aware without realizing anything has happened.
- Myoclonic seizures where a person’s body jerks as if it is being shocked.
- Generalized tonic seizures, also called grand mal seizures, where a person falls to the ground, their body stiffens, and the muscles begin to jerk or convulse.
- Tonic seizures where a person’s muscles contract and stiffen, and may cause the person to fall.
Seizures can result from many different medical conditions such as poisoning, fever (febrile seizure), alcohol or drug use (including recreational drugs), or exposure to toxic chemicals.
An infection, head injury, or disease or illness may also cause seizures. If seizures become chronic, occurring repeatedly over weeks, months, or years, the seizures have developed into epilepsy.
Contact a Social Security disability attorney at 512-454-4000 for a free consultation and see if you can get disability benefits while suffering from seizure disorders. If you have been denied disability don’t give up!
Epilepsy affects people of all ages and is the fourth most common neurological disorder.
It spans a wide range of seizure types, varying from person to person, and characterized by unpredictable seizures. Other health issues may develop as a result of epilepsy such as cognitive and learning disabilities, depression and anxiety, or unexplained falls or injuries.
Though epilepsy is considered a disability by the Social Security Administration, psychogenic nonepileptic seizures and pseudoseizures are not recognized as epilepsy by the Social Security Administration’s Bluebook. Instead, they are evaluated under mental disorders of the body (See Section 12.00).
Section 12.02 of the Blue Book lists the following cognitive impairments as necessary conditions to be awarded Social Security disability benefits for epilepsy.
A. Medical documentation of a significant cognitive decline from a prior level of functioning in one or more of the cognitive areas:
- Complex attention;
- Executive function;
- Learning and memory;
- Perceptual-motor; or
- Social cognition.
B. Extreme limitation of one, or marked limitation of two, of the following areas of mental functioning (see 12.00F):
- Understand, remember, or apply information (see 12.00E1).
- Interact with others (see 12.00E2).
- Concentrate, persist, or maintain pace (see 12.00E3).
- Adapt or manage oneself (see 12.00E4).