If you’ve experienced two or more seizures in your life, then you have a seizure disorder. Seizures result from the misfiring of electrical impulses in the brain and result in the temporary disruption of normal brain functions.
There are two primary categories of seizures: epileptic and non-epileptic. People who experience epilepsy have recurrent seizures due to the condition. Non-epileptic seizures, on the other hand, are the result of another medical condition. Though non-epileptic seizures may also be recurrent, those who suffer from them don’t technically have a seizure disorder, but instead have another condition with seizures as a symptom. Either can be potentially disabling, preventing you from working.
With modern understanding of epilepsy and the greater number of more effective medications, most who suffer from seizure disorders are able to keep their condition relatively under control. Not all patients benefit from contemporary seizure medications and other treatments though. If you’re among those who continue to struggle with seizures even with consistent medical care and prescribed use of anti-seizure medications, then your condition may prevent you from continuing to work.
Seizure Disorders and Physical Capacity
The main symptom that affects your physical capacity to perform your standard job duties is the occurrence of seizure episodes. The more frequently you experience seizures, the less likely it will be that you’re able to continue to work. This is especially true for anyone who works in a job in which a seizure would pose a safety or security risk. For example, machine operators, truck drivers, or others who control or operate vehicles or machinery as their core job responsibility cannot continue to work if their seizure disorder is uncontrolled.
During a seizure, you may experience loss of consciousness, uncontrolled shaking, or may appear temporarily catatonic – freezing in place and being unaware of anything that is happening around you. Even after a seizure episode subsides, you may have other post-seizure, physical symptoms, like high blood pressure, nausea, headaches and drowsiness.
In addition to the seizures you experience, the medications required for managing your condition can also affect your physical capacity to perform your job. Side effects that can diminish your physical capacity include dizziness, vision issues, edema, fatigue, sleepiness, and balance problems.
The type of work you are expected to perform everyday affects whether or not you’re able to maintain employment even when you experience pronounced side effects from your anti-seizure medications. How often you have seizures and the severity of the side effects you have from your medications may both result in you being unable to work due to your seizure disorder.
Seizure Disorders and Mental Capacity
Seizure episodes certainly affect your mental capacity, not only during the episode, but for a period of time following the seizure as well. You may be confused and unresponsive for some time following each seizure you experience. You may also suffer from mental sluggishness and other cognitive symptoms for as long as a couple of days following each seizure.
Anti-seizure medications also cause side effects that can affect your mental capacity to perform your everyday job duties. Speech problems, memory issues, concentration difficulties, and pronounced nervousness can all be among the medication side effects that diminish your ability to effectively maintain gainful employment.
Applying for Disability with a Seizure Disorder
Being found eligible for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits with a seizure disorder can be difficult. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has two forms of epilepsy listed among its conditions that potentially cause disability: convulsive epilepsy and non-convulsive epilepsy. Your application for SSD benefits must meet the documentation requirements for one of these two listings, or your medical documentation and other details of your application must satisfy the requirements for a “medical vocational allowance” in order for you to be approved for benefits.
Substantial medical documentation is required no matter which way your application may be approved. That documentation must not only including physician notes and statements that record and report the frequency and severity of the seizures you experience, but also the pre and post-seizure symptoms you have. Records from your medical doctor must also include documentation of the side effects you experience from your medications.
To ensure your application meets eligibility requirements, you’ll need to work closely with your primary care doctor. You may also wish to consider seeking the help of a Social Security attorney or advocate to help increase your chances of being approved for SSD benefits. Fill out the form on this site for a free evaluation of your disability claim.