We’ve been seeing more and more Claimants in the last several years with debilitating seizure disorders. Seizure disorders can be so devastating because they not only present a serious medical issue, but often present with such unpredictability, causing enormous amounts of stress.
At ADA, we handle claims regarding seizure disorders in the same we handle all of our claims, by putting the emphasis on the specific Claimant. Your seizure disorder is, like you, unique. Which means that we need to get to coordinate with you and your doctors to determine what kind of seizures you are experiencing, what type of treatment you are undergoing and how the seizures are specifically stopping you from maintaining steady employment. For instance, many claimants call ADA with not just a seizure disorder, but also significant depression and anxiety issues that stem from this medical condition’s unique stressors.
There are two types of seizure disorders that can qualify you for Social Security Disability benefits under a Listing. (A Listing is a standard used by the Social Security Administration that lays out the medical severity that is needed for automatic qualification for benefits. There are separate listings for almost any disability, physical or mental, that you can think of. The medical requirements for meeting a listing are very high and difficult to meet. They usually encompass the absolute worst-case situation in regard to the particular disability in question. However, it is very much possible to win benefits even if you do not meet the listing.)
Grand mal seizures
These are the first type of seizures that may qualify under a listing. A grand mal seizure is one that effects the entire brain and is most commonly associated with epilepsy. Sometimes, called a tonic-clonic seizure, the occurrence will often involve two stages, a tonic phase that usually lasts only a few seconds and involves a loss of consciousness and rigidity in the skeletal system, and a clonic phase where the muscles contract and relax rapidly, causing convulsions.
In order to qualify under the listing for grand mal seizures, the claimant must experience daytime episodes or nighttime episodes that manifest residual effects during the day, such as fatigue, confusion or muscle weakness. This listing also requires that the seizures occur more than once a month even after three months of treatment.
Petit mal seizures
Petit mal seizures, or “psychomotor” seizures, are the second type that can qualify a claimant under the seizure listing. Petit mal seizures do not have the obvious physical effects on the sufferer that you would see in a grand mal seizure. Often, the only clinical symptom of a petit mal seizure is an impairment of consciousness, a blank stare or maybe a brief upward rotation of the eyes. A petit mal seizure usually lasts less than 30 seconds and the sufferer returns quickly to a full state of consciousness.
The Social Security Administration’s listing for petit mal seizures requires a loss of consciousness and “transient postictal manifestations of unconventional behavior or significant interference with activity during the day”. Like the grand mal seizure listing, the petit mal listing requires a frequency of more than one seizure per month, even after three months of treatment.
Like most listings put forth by the Social Security Administration, there are several hurdles to overcome to meet the requirements. This is why so few Claimants meet the listings. The listings for seizures make this especially difficult.
First, both the listings for grand mal seizures and petit mal seizures require the Claimant to have undergone an electroencephalogram (EEG). Unfortunately, 10% of seizure sufferers have negative EEGs. Second, the listing requires that the claimant undergo three months of unsuccessful treatment. But what if the Claimant has no medical insurance? Or what if the Claimant is dealing with dealing with difficult psychiatric issues that often go along with seizure disorders. It is entirely possible this person doesn’t have the mental faculties right now to get the treatment the listing requires.
A larger issue is that the claimant who suffers frequent seizures often doesn’t report each seizure to the proper medical authorities. This can be true for several reasons. First, if the claimant is suffering from extremely frequent seizures, they have a hard time summoning the motivation to continually visit their doctor or the emergency room. As discussed above, the seizure victim may not have the health insurance to pursue the proper treatment anyway! And with petit mal seizures, the symptoms, though dangerous, can often seem somewhat benign, leading the seizure sufferer to believe it’s better to simply move on with their day when, in fact, they may be better off reporting their seizure and receiving proper medical treatment.
Now that you have the information, you have a better idea if you or someone you love is suffering from a seizure disorder that may qualify them for Social Security Disability benefits. If you have further questions about this or any other Disability issue, please feel free to call us here at ADA. We can be of assistance in avoiding some of the pitfalls you just read about so that your claim makes it’s way towards a favorable decision.
A Note from American Disability Alliance
American Disability Alliance is dedicated to helping you through this difficult time. No one expects to have to apply for Social Security Disability benefits. But now that you are, we will guide you through the process knowing how difficult your circumstances have become. ADA gives you access to a dedicated team of disability lawyers, advocates and other professionals that know the Social Security Disability process and are on the cutting edge of new ideas and SSDI information.
You deserve access to your disability attorney and regular updates on your claim. We at ADA hope to start a partnership with all of our clients with you. We’ve found this to be the way to achieve the best results for our clients. We will share information, strategy and goals in order to make the SSDI process efficient, reassuring and, of course, successful.
ADA will never forget that it is a privilege to do the work that gets honest, working people back on their feet with disability benefits. This is our mission and guides every decision we make, from how we assist our clients to who we hire.