Epilepsy is a condition of recurring seizures. People can experience many different types of seizures, but all of them are a result of abnormal electrical activity in the brain.
When the groups of cells and neurons in the brain that control body movements produce excessive impulses, a seizure occurs. Someone who experiences two seizures that aren’t related to some other type of condition is diagnosed with epilepsy.
One percent of the people in the U.S. will develop epilepsy, and 1 in 26 people will suffer from recurring seizures. Each year, Americans spend over $15 billion caring for and treating this condition.
Because seizures can be disabling and negatively impact a person’s life, daily routine, and ability to work, it’s possible to receive disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). However, it can be difficult to submit a winning claim. The SSA requires that you have frequent seizures with documentation that shows how they interfere with your daily activities. Because it’s a challenge to receive benefits for epilepsy, it’s helpful to hire a Social Security (SS) disability lawyer who understands the complicated application process for this condition.
How Can I Improve My Chances of Winning My Epilepsy Disability Claim?
While there are many things you can do to help improve the likelihood that your disability claim will be approved, there are four important actions you can take to help your case.
- See a doctor. The SSA evaluates epilepsy based on the frequency of a person’s seizures. Consequently, it’s important to see a doctor or get to the hospital after every episode. This may be undesirable, especially for people whose seizures occur on a regular basis, because it may require long hours of waiting at a medical facility for no medical advantage. But it’s important to make these visits consistently because they'll provide the necessary medical reports to support and authenticate the number of seizures you experience.
People who suffer from frequent epileptic seizures should be advised that a doctor can sometimes detect “post-seizure residual effects” following the episode that can be included in the patient’s medical records, and may be important information when the SSA conducts an evaluation.
- Take medication as directed. It’s important that you stay compliant with your anti-seizure medications. The SSA’s disability examiners will closely review your medical records for any prescription medication and often, it can help validate the severity of your condition. However, if you’ve been prescribed medication for your epilepsy but haven’t taken it as directed, you will likely find it difficult to win your disability claim. The examiner might question the seriousness of your condition or wonder if by taking the medication, you could perform at a regular job.
This may be a complicated issue, because some anti-seizure drugs have severe side effects and some of it is very expensive. Unfortunately, most disability claims will be denied if you’re not taking your medication or taking it as prescribed.
- Keep a diary. Tracking your epileptic episodes in a journal or diary can help you substantiate any information provided by doctors, friends, or family members about your condition on your application. Even though this type of documentation doesn’t replace your doctor’s written medical record, in most cases, the disability examiner will review this diary, and it can help strengthen and support your claim.
- Keeping family and friends updated. While an SSA disability examiner may contact you to ask about your ability to perform activities of daily living (ADLs), the examiner may also call your friends and relatives to ask similar questions about you. These calls are referred to as third-party ADLs. Any information that’s collected during these phone conversations can be used by the examiner to deny a claim. Thus, it’s important that the friends and family members you list as contacts on your application are kept informed about your medical condition—specifically, how often you experience an epileptic episode.
We Can Help
If you’re an adult suffering from epilepsy and you’re unable to sustain gainful employment, you may qualify for Social Security benefits. To get help get the financial support you need, speak with the attorneys at Cuddigan Law. We handle SS disability claims for clients who need assistance with their applications or the appeals process if their claim was denied. Contact us online or call us directly at 402.933.5405.