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Seizure Disorder and SSA Disability

Abnormal patterns of electrical activity can cause uncontrolled convulsions or a seizure. Although many of us think of epilepsy when we consider seizures, many types of seizures are a result of brain damage, brain infection, brain injury, brain hemorrhage, meningitis or general infections.

There are several common types of seizures including grand mal, partial seizures or petit mal. Some seizures affect a small piece of the brain while others affect the entire brain. While many claimants who suffer from seizures may seem unresponsive or stare, many other claimants may have spasms which rack the entire body and cause a loss of consciousness.

Diagnosing a Seizure

Claimants who have one seizure or a history of seizures will need to get an electroencephalogram, or EEG. The EEG can identify the type of seizure or whether the claimant’s brain waves are normal. Treatments for seizures can vary but may include medications, surgery or electrical stimulation.

If you have applied for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) the Social Security Administration (SSA) will expect that you have sought proper medical care and you are following the doctor’s treatment plan for your seizure disorder.

Winning SSDI or SSDI for Seizures

To determine whether a claimant with a seizure disorder will qualify for SSDI or SSI the Social Security Administration will first evaluate whether or not their condition is listed on the SSA Listing of Impairments (a list of all the conditions and symptoms which the SSA will consider automatically disabling). If a claimant’s condition is not on this list than the SSA will determine if they have the residual capacity to work (this is done through a medical vocational allowance).

Meeting a Listing on the SSA Listing of Impairments for a Seizure Disorder

Because seizures can be the result of an underlying disease (such as epilepsy) brain damage, the side-effects of medication or other developmental factors, it is not unusual for the SSA to determine if the conditions, not the seizures, meets a listing.

For example, many disorders, including epilepsy, which cause seizures are evaluated under listing 11.00 Neurological.  This can include traumatic brain injury which is evaluated under listing 11.18 - Cerebral Trauma, 11.05 Brain Tumors, 11.02 Epilepsy- convulsive epilepsy, (grand mal or psychomotor) or 11.03 Epilepsy - 11.03 Epilepsy - nonconvulsive epilepsy (petit mal, psychomotor,or focal).

For each of these listings there are very specific conditions and symptoms which the claimant must have to “meet or exceed” the listing. If the claimant’s condition is not as severe as the listing or they do not have the symptoms identified in the listing they may be able to win SSDI or SSI but this will have to be done through a medical vocational allowance.

Winning SSI or SSDI for Seizures through a Medical Vocational Allowance

Claimants may be able to prove that they do not have the residual functional capacity to work due to the severity of their seizure disorder. Claimant’s medical records should clearly list all of their work limitations. For instance:

If the medical records indicate enough impediments to work the claimant’s current job, past work or retrain for new work the SSA may determine they cannot work.
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