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Obtaining SSDI benefits for epilepsy

Many people in Missouri have had first-hand experience with epilepsy, either as a sufferer or as a family member or close friend of a sufferer. As these people know, epilepsy comes in several forms and degrees of severity. This post will address the medical conditions that must be present in order to prove a Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claim for epilepsy.

Social Security regulations define epilepsy as "a pattern of recurrent and unprovoked seizures that are manifestations of abnormal electrical activity in the brain." SSDI regulations recognize two types of disabling seizures: generalized tonic-clonic seizures and dyscognitive seizures. The former class is characterized by loss of consciousness accompanied by sudden muscle tensing followed by rapid cycles of muscle contraction and relaxation (sometimes called convulsions). Tonic-clonic seizures involve altered states of consciousness without convulsions or loss of muscle control.

In order to prove the existence of epilepsy as a disabling illness, the applicant must provide at least one detailed description of his or her seizures, preferably from a medical professional. The symptoms must appear with regularity in spite of the applicant adhering to a prescribed course of treatment and must be documented by a medical professional. The SSA will also consider statements from other witnesses regarding the frequency and severity of the seizures. Applicants must also show that the seizures prevent them from carrying out the normal functions of their job.

Epilepsy is a complex illness. Anyone contemplating a claim for SSDI benefits based upon epilepsy may wish to consult an attorney who is experienced in helping SSDI claimants. Such a consultation can provide a helpful evaluation of the case and an estimate of the likelihood of obtaining an award of benefits.

Source: Social Security Administration, "Disability Evaluation Under Social Security, 11.02 - Epilepsy," accessed on Dec. 2, 2016

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