Epilepsy and Seizures and Social Security Law

If you suffer from Epilepsy or any Seizure Disorder, you may be entitled to Social Security Disability benefits. In order to be granted Social Security Disability or SSI benefits, the epilepsy must be affecting the claimant to the point that he or she would not be able to do any kind of work.

There are two types of epilepsy that have listings for Social Security disability. First is convulsive epilepsy, Grand Mal Seizures or Generalized Seizures happen when large bursts of electrical energy go through all of the brain suddenly. Typically a person having a generalized seizure has symptoms which can result is a sudden loss of consciousness, the person may fall down, and undergo a stiffening of the muscles called tonic contractions. These are usually followed by clonic contractions in which the persons muscles cause a twitching and jerking of the persons arms and legs.

The SSA evaluates all convulsive disease according to the degree of impairment suffered by the person according to the type, frequency, duration and after effects of the seizure on the person. The SSA requires that there be at least one medical description of a typical seizure experienced by the person.

The description must include whether or not the person had the aura sensation, tongue bites, sphincter control problems, injuries associated with the seizures, and any post seizure after effects such as weakness or confusion.

The doctor making the report regarding the seizure should also indicate which parts of the seizure description is from his own observations and which part of the description comes from other sources. If professional testimony is not available as to witnessing the seizure then other lay witnesses can provide this information to the SSA.

The epilepsy must also be documented by at least one Electroencephalogram. (EEG) An EEG is a recording of the electrical activity in the brain. The EEG can be used to demonstrate seizure activity in a person’’s brain by reading the electrical activity report.

A person meets the SSA Listing for major motor seizures such as Grand Mal or psychomotor seizures if the seizure is documented by an EEG and the detailed description of the a typical seizure and that the seizures have occurred more than once per month in spite of at least three months of prescribed treatment. The patient must also have at least one of the following:

A. Daytime episodes (with loss of consciousness and convulsive seizures) or

B. Nocturnal episodes with residuary effects which interfere significantly with activity during the day.

The other type is non-convulsive epilepsy, Partial Seizures occur when the electrical disturbance in the brain effects only one portion of the brain. The partial seizure then effects just the part of the body controlled by that particular part of the brain that is having the disturbance. If the seizure starts in one part of the brain and then spreads through the rest of the brain it is called a partial seizure secondarily generalized. Some patients will have a sensation called an aura which is a change in their feelings or ability to move that gives them advance notice that they are about to have a seizure.

Partial Seizures are divided into Simple Partial Seizures and Complex Partial Seizures. A patient having a simple partial seizure does not lose consciousness while having the seizure. A person having a complex partial seizure will have his consciousness effected either by losing consciousness or even though he may appear to be conscious he will be in an altered consciousness or dreamlike state and be unable to respond logically to outside stimulus.

If a claimant’s seizure disorder is classified as non-convulsive epilepsy (petit mal seizures, or focal seizures), such seizures must occur more frequently than once per week, in spite of at least 3 months of prescribed treatment. Additionally, non-convulsive seizures must involve either loss of consciousness, alteration of awareness (i.e., confusion or disorientation), or have the effect of interfering with the individual’s activities during the day.

If you or a loved one suffer from seizures and you are no longer able to work, you should consult with an experienced Social Security Disability attorney. Allan W. Ben P.C. is a Michigan Social Security Disability law firm which can help you or your loved one with their case. We handle cases all over Michigan including Oakland County, Wayne County, Macomb County and Livingston County. Call are office at 248-540-0677 or by email at info@allanwbenpc.com.