The Mayo Clinic defines epilepsy as a disorder caused by surges in the electrical activity of the brain. These surges cause seizures that recur. Seizures can vary from patient to patient. One may simply sit and stare, while another may experience violent convulsions.
What is Epilepsy?
Although two in every 100 people in the United States will have one seizure in his or her lifetime, it takes more than one episode to diagnose epilepsy, usually at least two seizures that have no apparent cause. About 2.5 million Americans are diagnosed with epilepsy. Epilepsy can be treated with drugs, diet, and sometimes surgery.
Non-epileptic seizures are not caused by abnormal brain electrical activity. These may be caused by stress or psychological problems. Trauma, fever, blood sugar and/or sodium issues, and drugs or alcohol can also cause non-epileptic seizures.
If you think you have epilepsy, it must be diagnosed to qualify for SSA disability benefits. Diagnosing epilepsy is accomplished in a variety of ways. Here are a few of the most common factors:
- Your medical history. The doctor will look at your family history, any other medical conditions you have and any medications you may be taking.
- Interviews with people close to you. Your family members and friends can provide your doctor with details of your seizures that you may not be aware of.
- Complete physical and neurological examination. Testing of your strength, hearing, vision, and reflexes will be done.
- Medical tests. You will probably undergo an electroencephalogram (EEG) test of your brain’s electrical impulses. You might also have an MRI, MRS, PET and/or SPECT, all tests to determine how your system is functioning. Blood tests will also be taken. Of all these, the EEG is the most helpful in your diagnosis.
In order to qualify for disability benefits, the SSA publishes an outline on their website of how they determine whether your condition is severe enough to keep you from working. Here is a list of their guidelines:
SSA Requirements for Disability Benefit Claimants
- The SSA determines the degree of impairment by looking at the type, frequency, duration and number of seizures.
- They require that a detailed description of at least one seizure be submitted.
- This description must include information on “the presence or absence of aura, tongue bites, sphincter control, injuries associated with the attack, and postictal phenomena.”
- If a doctor or other medical professional can provide this information, then the SSA will require testimony from others who have witnessed and can clearly report the seizure symptoms.
- Also, you must be experiencing seizures even though you are on a prescribed treatment by a medical professional.
If epilepsy is keeping you from working at your regular job and you have or can get evidence of this, you may qualify for Massachusetts SSA disability benefits. To find out, contact an experienced Boston Social Security disability lawyer at Keefe Disability Law. You can reach us toll free at 888-904-6847 or simply fill out the confidential form on this page. We look forward to hearing from you.