Epilepsy can be a challenging condition that may severely impact a person’s ability to carry out their daily activities. In fact, it can be so debilitating that it meets the criteria for a disability. If you or a loved one were diagnosed with epilepsy that prevents you from earning a living, you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. These benefits can provide much-needed financial support for those who are unable to earn a living due to their condition.
To receive federal disability benefits, applicants are required to meet certain conditions that include medical, work, and financial requirements. There are two Social Security disability programs:
Although both programs offer financial assistance, there are a few key differences between them. SSDI provides benefits to those who have worked and paid Social Security taxes but are unable to work due to a disability. SSI, on the other hand, is a needs-based program that provides benefits for those with low income or people who meet other criteria.
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that affects the brain and is diagnosed when a person experiences one or more seizures. This condition can have serious consequences that may lead to other symptoms, such as depression, anxiety, bleeding in the brain, meningitis, and even brain tumors or head injuries.
The Social Security Administration (SSA)—the federal agency that oversees the SSI and SSDI programs—considers two types of epileptic seizures that can cause disability. They include:
When filing for SSI or SSDI, the SSA will review the frequency in which you experience seizures, as well as the severity and impacts they have on your day-to-day life.
The SSA recognizes epilepsy as a condition that qualifies for disability programs. To do so, an applicant is required to provide medical documentation about their disease and their attempts to treat it.
Some people may experience nighttime seizures that may cause excessive complications during the day, such as problems staying awake, thinking clearly, and being able to coordinate. These symptoms may prevent people from being able to work a job or earn a living, which is a requirement for receiving disability assistance.
Epilepsy can also cause daytime disruptions that may negatively affect a person’s daily life and activities. Noting and documenting how these symptoms prevent you from working can often help when seeking SSI or SSDI.
A person with epilepsy may apply for disability benefits by filling out an application online on the SSA’s website or by visiting one of their offices.
Whichever way you decide to apply, the process is generally the same. It is also important that you submit pertinent records and documentation about your epilepsy. This may include the date you were diagnosed, the frequency and severity of your symptoms, treatments, and records detailing how you were unable to earn a living because of your condition. Additionally, the SSA will often require contact information for your medical providers.
Children with epilepsy may be eligible to receive SSI, but they do not meet the age requirements for SSDI, which requires applicants to be at least 62 years old.
To qualify, the child must meet the SSA’s definition of disability, which includes having a medically determinable impairment that results in marked and severe functional limitations that are expected to last for at least 12 months or result in death. Like adults, the SSA evaluates applications from children on a case-by-case basis to determine their eligibility for benefits.
Some of the medical documents you may need to submit to receive SSI for a child with epilepsy include:
If you do not meet the SSA’s criteria for disability programs, you will likely be denied benefits. When you apply for disability benefits, the SSA evaluates your medical condition and your ability to work based on their established criteria. If your condition is not severe enough to meet the SSA’s definition of disability, or if you can work despite your condition, you may be denied benefits.
If your application for benefits is denied, you have the right to contest the decision. You can request an appeal within 60 days of receiving the denial notice. The appeals process includes several stages, including a request for reconsideration, a hearing with an administrative law judge, and an appeal to the Appeals Council. If you are still denied benefits after exhausting all stages of the appeals process, you may be able to file a lawsuit in federal court.
It’s important to note that the process of applying for disability benefits can be complex and lengthy. Because of this, it may be helpful to consult with an experienced attorney who can guide you through the process and help you maximize your chances of success.
If you’re struggling with a disability or medical condition, applying for disability benefits can seem daunting. At Khattar Law, PC, our dedicated team of disability attorneys can help guide you through the process.
Whether you’re applying for the first time or need help with an appeal, having a lawyer by your side can give you confidence that your case is being handled properly and that you have the best possible chance of obtaining the benefits you need. Call us today at 210-923-1234 for a free and no-obligation consultation.