Thursday, September 06, 2007

Epilepsy Social Security Disability SSI - Applying for Disability

As a disability examiner, I saw a fair number of cases involving epilepsy or seizure disorder. And, in speaking to claimants who had gone through the initial work of filing for disability (either an application for social security disability or an application for SSI), it became fairly obvious to me that a number of claimants simply assume that a diagnosis of epilepsy will be enough to qualify for disability benefits. In actuality, this assumption is far removed from the truth.

Epilepsy or seizure disorder is listed in the social security administration's impairment listing manual. And reading the listing for epilepsy gives one a clear sense of how social security views all impairments, which is this: an impairment, mental or physical, must result in significant functional limitations, to the extent that a claimant becomes unable to work (either at a past job or at some form of other work) and earn a minimal income for a period not less than twelve months.

What follows below is some basic information on epilepsy.

Approximately fifty million people worldwide have epilepsy at any given time. Epilepsy is not a single disease or disorder but a group of syndromes or disorders, which have varying symptoms and causes and which result in abnormal episodes of electrical activity in the brain.

Epilepsy may be caused by congenital, developmental, or genetic abnormalities and most often affect children, while tumors are a major cause of epilepsy among individuals who are over forty.

Additionally, infections of the nervous system or trauma may cause epilepsy at any age. Epilepsy is categorized by five means, which include: established cause, location of abnormal electrical activity in brain, symptoms, triggering events, and secondary to other medical disorders.

The most common seizure disorder is generalized seizure disorder, and is divided into types according to how the body is affected during a seizure. Generalized seizure disorder includes several types including petit mal seizures, grand mal seizures, myoclonic seizures, tonic seizures, atonic seizures, and clonic seizures.

Generally, epilepsy is not curable, but it is usually managed with pharmaceuticals. Physicians used a variety of anti-convulsants to reduce seizure activity. However some individuals have epilepsy, which is considered to be “medically refractory”.

What does “medically refractory”? This term simply means that at least two types of medication have been given in an effort to prevent seizure activity and the effort has been unsuccessful.

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