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Will I qualify for SSDI benefits if I have epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a neurological condition. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a person has epilepsy once he or she has had two or more seizures, and the seizures may be of more than one type. Seizures can be debilitating, but, fortunately, there may be help for Tennesseans with epilepsy in the form of Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (SSDI).

In determining whether a person with epilepsy qualifies for Social Security disability benefits for illness, the SSA will consider the degree of impairment a person suffers due to his or her condition. This degree of impairment will be evaluated in consideration of the type of seizures a person has, as well as their duration, frequency and the other effects a person may suffer from because of his or her seizures.

A Tennessean applying for SSDI benefits due to his or her epileptic condition, whether convulsive or nonconvulsive, should provide information from a reporting physician. If such information is not available, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will also consider testimony from those who have witnessed the applicant's seizures. In nonconvulsive epilepsy, to award benefits the SSA is typically looking for seizures that occur more than once a week despite a person receiving treatment for at least three months, whereas with convulsive epilepsy, the SSA is looking for seizures that occur more often than once a month despite treatment for at least three months.

There are additional factors that the SSA will evaluate before it determines whether a person with epilepsy will qualify for SSDI benefits, and the agency will require a tremendous amount of documentation to support its decision. If you or a loved one has epilepsy and are interested in applying for SSDI benefits, you may find that legal counsel can provide helpful guidance during the application process.

Source: Social Security Administration, "11.00 Neurological - Adult," accessed April 15, 2016

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