Epilepsy sufferers frequently experience symptoms that make work difficult even when they are not directly experiencing seizures. If your epilepsy is interfering with your ability to hold down a full-time job, it may be time to consider applying for disability. If you've never looked into it before, the process is can be a little complicated, so it's a good idea to know what you'll need to make your claim.
Documents You'll Need To Submit
Before your case can be considered, you'll need to gather up all of the evidence that you suffer from epilepsy and the related seizures. These documents help inform the application reviewer about your condition, its severity, treatments you have tried, and how long you've been impaired.
- An official diagnosis from your treating doctor.
- A description of an average seizure for you. Be sure to include the duration and any symptoms that arise before and after each seizure.
- Corroboration of your description from your doctor and a third party as to the nature of your seizures.
- Records of previous seizures in terms of frequency and severity.
- EEG test results. Only one test is required, but providing any other examples may be beneficial.
- A copy of your treatment history as complied by your doctor listing any medications you've taken or alternative treatments you tried and your reaction to them.
- Proof that you have faithfully taken prescribed medications for at least 3 months in an attempt to control your condition. Blood test results to confirm the presence of the medicine in your body, for example.
Once the three month treatment period is over, you are free to apply if you are still impaired by your condition, even if the medication does help.
Traits Of Disabling Epilepsy
Unfortunately, proving you have epileptic seizures will not always be enough to immediately qualify for benefits. Once your documents are received and the review board is content to believe that you are telling the truth, your case will be examined to see if you have any of the required traits for disability.
If You Have Convulsive Epilepsy: You must be able to show that you experience seizures at least once per month. These seizures must interrupt your daily life significantly. Typically, they need to occur during the day to qualify, but night-time seizures that interfere with your daily life will also qualify.
If You Have Non-convulsive Epilepsy: Your seizures must be more frequent in order to constitute impairment. Seizures have to occur weekly and still be severe enough to interfere with your daily life.
If your condition is not quite severe enough to meet these requirements, don't lose hope. You may still be able to qualify for a benefits allowance under medical-vocational standards.
Factors That Influence Medical-Vocational Benefits
If medication controls your condition well enough for you not to directly qualify, you can still get help by proving you have an incredibly reduced Residual Function Capacity, or RFC. Quite a few factors go into determining your RFC, meaning the severity of your seizures is only one aspect you'll need to consider when you apply for medical-vocational benefits.
Your RFC can be lowered by personal traits you have. Your education level, age, and transferable work skills are all relevant to the calculation determining your benefits. If you are older, less education, and have few applicable skills, your RFC will decrease significantly.
The RFC calculation also serves as a sort of catch-all for health issues that are not considered in the disability application process. For example, if you cannot lift heavy objects, cannot stoop or bend down, get winded easily, and must take frequent work breaks, these factors may not be directly considered on your initial application. However, they will lower your RFC and make it far easier for you to qualify for medical-vocational benefits, since they do interfere with your ability to get and maintain work in practicality.
Like physical problems, mental difficulties contribute difficulty to any job you try to complete. If you suffer from mental fatigue, brain fog, memory loss, or difficulty with abstract thought, for example, your ability to work will be affected, lowering your RFC.
Epilepsy can make life hard on you, but it shouldn't drive you to debt. If you're facing an inability to work, it may be time to see if the government will extend disability benefits to you. You could help the help you need to stay on your feet, but you won't know until you try. The process for applying, however, is quite complicated, so it's always a good idea to seek the help of a professional, such as a social security attorney.