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Epilepsy and Social Security Disability

Posted by Louis B. Lusk | Jun 27, 2013 | 0 Comments

Epilepsy and Social Security Disability

From staring into outer space to shaking uncontrollably, unable to control bodily functions, seizures can be highly disconcerting. Individuals with epilepsy deal with this every day of their lives. When epilepsy becomes uncontrollable, an individual may need to apply for Social Security Disability because their epileptic seizures disrupts their daily functioning making work highly difficult to sustain. What is epilepsy? “Epilepsy is a neurological condition that makes people susceptible to seizures. A seizure is a change in sensation, awareness or behavior brought about by a brief electrical disturbance in the brain.” Epilepsy has no one specific cause. Sometimes there is a hereditary component. Sometimes epilepsy is triggered by stroke or a brain tumor. “Often, no cause can be found.” “Conditions in the brain that produce these episodes may have been present since birth, or they may develop later in life due to injury, infections, structural abnormalities in the brain, exposure to toxic agents, or for reasons that are still not well understood.” “Epilepsy and seizures affect nearly 3 million Americans of all ages.” Seizures occur due to a disruption in the brain's electrical communication between brain cells called neurons. “A sudden burst of neuronal firing may not be sufficient to cause an obvious seizure…; however, if the discharge of electrical energy has sufficient power and affects enough neurons, it will produce symptoms characteristic of the area in which the discharge took place. The result could be a sudden muscle jerk, an abrupt fall, a distorted vision. If the disturbance flashes across the whole brain at once, it could produce a convulsive seizure, temporarily disrupting many of the functions of the brain.” Diagnosis Diagnosis involves a number of items. A doctor will take a full patient history and run blood tests. The Epilepsy Foundation notes “the doctor's main tool in diagnosing epilepsy is a careful medical history with as much information as possible about what the seizures looked like and what happened just before they began.” A doctor may run an electroencephalograph (EEG) to review an individual's brain waves to see if there are patterns that may indicate epilepsy. A doctor may also order a CT or MRI scan “to search for any growths, scars or other physical conditions in the brain that may be causing the seizures.” Treatments If treatment is needed, doctors commonly start with anticonvulsive or antiseizure medication. If medication does not work, then there is the possibility of surgery. One type of surgery is implanting a battery-operated device called a vagus nerve stimulator, which sends short bursts of electricity up the vagus nerve. Another type of surgery is where the seizure-producing areas of the brain are removed. Another possible treatment is putting an epileptic individual on a ketogenic diet, which is made up mostly of fats with small amounts of carbohydrates and protein. Why this works for some people is still being studied. Social Security Disability Social Security Disability splits epilepsy into two distinct types: convulsive and nonconvulsive. To qualify for SSD, an individual with convulsive epilepsy must show there is a pattern of seizures “occurring more frequently than once a month, in spite of at least 3 months of prescribed treatment” where daytime or nighttime episodes significantly interfere with daily activity. An individual with nonconvulsive epilepsy must show there is a seizure pattern “occurring more frequently than once weekly in spite of at least 3 months of prescribed treatment” that significantly interferes with daily activity. Keeping in mind that SSD requires extensive medical records to prove a specific diagnosis, it may be necessary to submit to brain scans to qualify for SSD. Only about 40 percent of people who apply for SSD receive disability payments. If you are considering applying for disability benefits in Georgia, you should contact our experienced Social Security attorney. See Related Posts: Cystic Fibrosis and Social Security Disability Diabetes Does Not Always Lead to SSD Benefits

About the Author

Louis B. Lusk

About Louis B. Lusk – Disability Attorney Attorney Louis B. Lusk has helped thousands of disabled individuals recover Social Security disability and SSI disability benefits.  He is an active member of the National Organization of Social Security Claimant's Representatives (NOSSCR), an organizat...

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