James EzzellI have seen a number of variations of what I broadly refer to as “seizure disorders” over the years of my SSA disability practice. Whether emanating from some malformation in the brain, a traumatic brain injury or epilepsy, etc., these ailments can have a devastating effect on a person’s employability through no fault of their own. Potential employers tend to shy away from these individuals, fearing potential liability issues or just plain ignorance of their condition, among other reasons. Most people, if properly treated, can manage these ailments and lead productive lives if they are given an opportunity to do so. Unfortunately for some, despite being properly treated, they cannot control the frequency of their seizure episodes and are thus disabled in the eyes of the SSA.

Epilepsy Disability Claims

The frequency of these people’s seizure episodes is the key to a successful disability claim, as you can see in the attached “listing” for Epilepsy at the end of this post. If you recall from earlier blog posts, I discussed what the Social Security Act’s “listings” are and their relative importance to the appeals process. As Epilepsy is one of the more common “seizure disorders” I encounter in my SSA disability practice, I thought I would touch on it briefly here.

Types of Seizures

There are several sorts of seizures out there, ranging from the Petit Mal to the Grand Mal, from the Partial Simple to the Partial Complex among others. Many of us are familiar with the Petit Mal version of these episodes, where there is very little or no movement, blank stares and a short loss of awareness. These sorts of seizure episodes usually last for considerably less time than Grand Mal seizures, which are often much more dramatic and take quite a bit longer to recover from. People can experience major muscle contractions, loss of consciousness, loss of bladder control, biting their tongue and mouth and so on. If you are driving or in a hazardous location, the consequences can be devastating to the person suffering this sort of seizure episode or others nearby. This is the reason people often will have their driver’s licenses revoked.

Partial Simple seizures present symptoms much more localized to a part of the body, vis a vie muscle contractions, flushing or perspiration is also commonly experienced, while the Partial Complex seizure symptoms can be more dramatic or pronounced: automatism, excessive flushing or perspiration and personality changes among many, many other symptoms.

What Triggers a Seizure

What triggers any of these seizure episodes can often be somewhat unique to each person, although stress seems to play a frequent role. Many people have learned to cope with their “seizure disorder” and often do not seek medical attention unless absolutely necessary.

As such, I stress to my clients to keep a seizure diary so that the required frequency, symptoms and duration of the episodes they experience might be memorialized in lieu of medical records, and later submitted to the Court. I also ask that a family member or friend who is familiar with the seizure episodes my client experiences attend the hearing so that if the Social Security Judge would like some testimony about what the claimant goes through when they are unconscious they will be available, although this is becoming less frequent.

Below is the actual “listing” for Epilepsy for those interested:

11.02 Epilepsy, documented by a detailed description of a typical seizure and characterized by A, B, C, or D:

A. Generalized tonic-clonic seizures (see 11.00H1a), occurring at least once a month for at least 3 consecutive months (see 11.00H4) despite adherence to prescribed treatment (see 11.00C).

OR

B. Dyscognitive seizures (see 11.00H1b), occurring at least once a week for at least 3 consecutive months (see 11.00H4) despite adherence to prescribed treatment (see 11.00C).

OR
C. Generalized tonic-clonic seizures (see 11.00H1a), occurring at least once every 2 months for at least 4 consecutive months (see 11.00H4) despite adherence to prescribed treatment (see 11.00C); and a marked limitation in one of the following:

  1. Physical functioning (see 11.00G3a); or
  2. Understanding, remembering, or applying information (see 11.00G3b(i)); or
  3. Interacting with others (see 11.00G3b(ii)); or
  4. Concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace (see 11.00G3b(iii)); or
  5. Adapting or managing oneself (see 11.00G3b(iv)).

OR
D. Dyscognitive seizures (see 11.00H1b), occurring at least once every 2 weeks for at least 3 consecutive months (see 11.00H4) despite adherence to prescribed treatment (see 11.00C); and a marked limitation in one of the following:

  1. Physical functioning (see 11.00G3a); or
  2. Understanding, remembering, or applying information (see 11.00G3b(i)); or
  3. Interacting with others (see 11.00G3b(ii)); or
  4. Concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace (see 11.00G3b(iii)); or
  5. Adapting or managing oneself (see 11.00G3b(iv)).

If you or your child have been denied SSA disability benefits or suffer from a severe impairment that is expected to last more than twelve months and that prevents you from doing any of your past or other work or is causing developmental delay in your child, please contact our office nearest to you to set up a free consultation appointment to discuss your situation.

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