People with epilepsy may experience convulsive or non-convulsive seizures and their seizure episodes may occur while being awake or asleep. The seizures themselves are only one aspect of what disables an epileptic person. Fatigue, aphasia, and other symptoms that usually follow each seizure episode also make it difficult for some epileptics to maintain a job. It may take hours for an epileptic to recover from each seizure. For those people who have seizures several times per week or even several times a day, the debilitating nature of the illness makes maintaining a job difficult if not impossible.
It has been reported that more than 3 million Americans live with epilepsy and one in 26 Americans will be diagnosed with the condition during their lifetime. For some, epilepsy is controlled by medications. For others, uncontrolled seizures inflict havoc on all aspects of life, including the ability to work and earn a living. If you suffer from uncontrolled seizures, you may be able to qualify for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). Epilepsy results in ongoing medical expenses also affect finances in other ways. The disease requires consistent drug therapy, even when medications are not completely effective in controlling seizures. Diagnostic tests intended to figure out the cause and the effects of seizures can be expensive.
If your epilepsy doesn’t meet or closely match one of the listings, but still prevents you from working, then you may still be able to qualify for disability benefits. You will need to go through a residual functional capacity analysis. This process requires you and your doctor to fill out reports. Your friends, family, or caregivers, may also be asked to complete a report. These forms give the SSA information about how your illness affects you every day, and your ability to complete daily tasks. You should be as thorough, accurate, and honest as possible on these forms when you’re explaining your physical, mental, and psychological limitations on the functional report forms. Don’t leave any questions blank, because this will only lead to further delays and may even result in the SSA denying you benefits.
Epileptics are able to apply for Social Security disability in two ways: online or in-person at your local SSA office. If you’re applying online, you should know that you can only submit an application via the SSA’s website for Social Security Disability Insurance — SSDI. These are benefits that are available to disabled workers who meet all requirements. If you are applying in person at the local office, you can complete your SSDI application and you can also apply for Supplemental Security Income or SSI benefits. SSI is a need-based program with strict income and financial asset limitations.
Whether you’re applying for SSI, SSDI, or both, you must ensure you provide the SSA with specific details in your application. The application includes precise information on your employment history, education, medical treatment, and income as well as any other financial data that would be relevant. Gather as many records as you can before you begin your application and be sure to fill out all forms consistently and completely. The SSA will need the contact information of your primary care doctor, any hospitals in which you’ve received emergency room or in-patient care, and any other healthcare source you’ve seen. This will allow them to acquire your medical records, which are a key element to being approved for benefits. If you are in the Cleveland area and need to find a facility that specializes in nonconvulsive epilepsy treatment, visit Cleveland Clinic for more information.