Epilepsy can cause a range of symptoms and interrupt your life in a number of ways. Some people experience absence seizures occasionally, while others regularly convulse and lose consciousness. Those with severe or frequent episodes may find they cannot work a regular job or earn a living for their family.
If your condition prevents you from maintaining continued employment, you may qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) for epilepsy in Pittsburgh. These benefits could include Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The disability lawyers at Berger and Green can help you get the benefits you deserve, no matter if you are applying for the first time or fighting a benefits denial from the Social Security Administration (SSA). Call us today at 412-661-1400 to get started.
When Does the SSA Consider Epilepsy a Disability?
The SSA outlines its criteria for total disability in a publication known as the Blue Book. This listing of impairments includes a chapter for each condition. The eligibility criteria for epilepsy are in Section 11.00 – Neurological Disorders.
To qualify for SSD benefits because of your epilepsy, you must experience symptoms despite adhering to your prescribed treatment for at least three months. The criteria include:
- Generalized tonic-clonic seizures once a month for three months; or
- Dyscognitive seizures once a week for three months.
If you suffer from less frequent generalized tonic-clonic or dyscognitive seizures, the SSA will need to see proof that you also suffer from a marked limitation in one or more of these areas:
- Your physical abilities;
- Your ability to understand, remember, and apply information;
- Your interpersonal interaction skills;
- Your concentration and focus; or
- Your ability to adapt to change or manage your own behaviors.
If you believe you may qualify for disability benefits based on these criteria, you may want to discuss the possibility with your doctor. They can ensure your condition is well-documented in your medical records and talk to you about how changing treatments could affect your qualifications.
Can I Qualify for Disability If I Do Not Meet These Criteria?
If your seizures are not frequent enough to meet the criteria in the impairment listing, you may still qualify based on your residual functional capacity (RFC). The SSA issues this statement of your abilities after a careful review of your medical records. They may also ask you to attend an evaluation with a doctor of their choice. During this evaluation process, they attempt to determine which specific tasks of your job and everyday life you cannot complete.
Your RFC will outline exactly what you are capable of doing at work, for how long, and how often. If the SSA finds you cannot work your last job, any previous job, or adjust to other work, you will likely qualify for benefits.
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What Type of Evidence Does the SSA Need to Award Disability for Epilepsy?
The SSA makes their decision about your disability benefits based on your medical records and other documentation. When we help you file your claim, we ensure they have the proper contact information to reach your general practitioner, neurologist, and others who are familiar with your case. They will request specific information from these doctors and look for evidence you meet their criteria or otherwise suffer from impairments that prevent you from working.
Among the medical evidence necessary to approve your disability claim is your medical history, any relevant clinical tests, and any imaging studies of your brain. The SSA will also look at your treatment history, reports about the frequency of your seizures, the types of anti-seizure medications prescribed and the results, and other documentation of your response to treatment.
Getting the right information to the SSA’s examiners is key to gaining the benefit approval you need.
What Are the Other Qualifications to Collect SSD Benefits?Many people focus so much on meeting the SSA’s definition of disabled that they overlook the fact that there are other qualifications necessary for drawing benefits, as well. These criteria vary between the SSDI and SSI programs.
To get SSDI, you need to prove:
- You cannot work at your job or adjust to other work;
- You currently earn below the substantial gainful activity(SGA) limit, which is $1,170 for 2017; and
- You have enough work creditsto qualify based on your work history and age.
To get SSI, you need to prove:
- Your monthly income falls at or below $735 for an individual or $1,103 per couple; and
- You have less than $2,000 in assets—or $3,000 for a couple—excluding exceptions such as your home, your car, or other excluded assets.
As you can see, SSDI is not a need-based benefit program, while SSI pays out to those who live on very little income and have few assets. The SSI program also does not require you to have a previous work history, while SSDI does. It is possible to qualify for both programs or only one of them, but you will only collect the highest of the two benefits.
This should give you a general idea of whether you may qualify for either of these disability programs. However, we will be happy to evaluate your qualifications based on the specific facts of your case and help you file an application for SSDI, SSI, or another government benefit program.
Berger and Green Can Help You Get Disability Benefits for Your Epilepsy.
At Berger and Green, we know what it takes to get the benefits you need to help your family make ends meet. We can evaluate your claim based on your epilepsy and help you understand your options. We can also represent you during the appeals process if the SSA already denied your initial claim for disability. Call us today at 412-661-1400 to learn more.