When most people think of epilepsy, they envision individuals who are thrown into a state of random seizure with uncontrolled body movement and no warning or seeming cause. The truth is, not all cases of epilepsy involve uncontrolled convulsions. In some cases, epilepsy is non-convulsive. That does not mean, however, that the condition is any less detrimental to the quality of an individual's life. To the contrary, some cases of non-convulsive epilepsy can be quite severe and can interfere with a person's ability to work. If you or someone you know is suffering from non-convulsive epilepsy and you are wondering whether or not the condition qualifies for Social Security Disability benefits, the following information will help you understand how the Social Security Administration (SSA) reviews claims based on this condition and how you can increase your chances of obtaining the Social Security Disability benefits you need.
Non-Convulsive Epilepsy - Condition and Symptoms
Like individuals who suffer from convulsive epilepsy, those who suffer from non-convulsive epilepsy are affected by sudden changes in the electrical function of the cells in the brain. However, unlike convulsive epileptic seizures, non-convulsive seizures do not result in uncontrolled movements of the body. Instead, individuals who suffer from non-convulsive epileptic seizures may experience a loss of physical coordination, vision and other sensory abilities.
Oftentimes a person who experiences a non-convulsive seizure will stare off into space or will act disorientated or even drunk. These attacks can be traumatic, as the person who is suffering the non-convulsive seizure may be completely aware of what is happening even though they are unable to control their behaviors.
One of the most common types of seizures that occur with non-convulsive epilepsy is referred to as petit mal seizures. These episodes result in lapses of awareness. Sometimes the individual who is suffering the seizure will just sit completely still and stare off into space. These seizures usually begin and end abruptly and last only for a few seconds.
Atonic seizures are also common in individuals suffering from non-convulsive epilepsy. These episodes cause an abrupt loss of muscle tone. The individual may experience a loss of posture or even a sudden collapse. Unfortunately, this specific type of seizure can be dangerous as it can result in injury due to serious falls. To make matters worse, atonic seizures do not respond well to drug therapies.
If an individual is suffering from non-convulsive epilepsy which results in an inability to maintain employment, the financial ramifications can be devastating. It is in such situations that an application for Social Security Disability benefits is necessary.
Filing for Social Security Disability with Non-Convulsive Epilepsy
The people who suffer from non-convulsive epilepsy are often unable to work outside of the home due to the symptoms of the condition. The SSA has recognized this fact and has included the condition in its Blue Book of Medical Listings.
Non-convulsive epilepsy is listed in Section 11.03 of the SSA's Blue Book. According to this section, an individual may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits if their case of non-convulsive epilepsy is documented by a detailed description of a typical seizure pattern including all associated phenomena of the seizures. The seizures must occur more than once a week and the patient must have undergone at least three months of unsuccessful treatments. The seizures must also cause an alteration of awareness or a loss of consciousness and transient postictal manifestations of unconventional behavior or significant interference with the applicant's daily activities.
If your specific case of non-convulsive epilepsy meets these published guidelines, you will need to furnish proof of this fact to the SSA when filing your disability claim. This means providing the SSA with complete copies of your medical records, including full treatment histories. If you can provide evidence showing that your case of non-convulsive epilepsy meets these guidelines, you will likely be approved for Social Security Disability benefits during the initial stage of the disability application process.
If you do not have enough medical documentation to prove that your case of non-convulsive epilepsy meets the SSA's published guidelines or if your specific condition does not meet the established criteria, you may still be able to qualify for disability benefits if you can prove that your condition prevents you from performing any type of work activity. In order to do this, you will need to provide as much medical evidence as possible with your disability application and you will need to be as detailed as you can be when filling out the disability claim forms. In many cases, you may also have to undergo the process of a disability appeal.
Non-Convulsive Epilepsy and Your Social Security Disability Case
If your initial claim for Social Security Disability benefits is denied, whether it be due to a lack of medical evidence or the fact that you do not meet the specific criteria listed in Section 11.03 of the SSA's Medical Listings, you should not give up. You can appeal the SSA's decision to deny your disability benefits with the help of a qualified Social Security Disability advocate or attorney. These professionals can help you gather the evidence that you will need to prove that your condition interferes with your ability to work and will represent you before the administrative law judge at your disability hearing.
If you have yet to apply for disability, it is still a good idea to consult with a disability attorney. He or she will be able to evaluate your case for free.