Is Epilepsy a Disability?
Epilepsy is a serious condition that affects your brain and can seriously impact your ability to work or perform daily activities. But is epilepsy a disability? What do you need to prove in order to qualify for long-term disability benefits?
What Is Epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a common neurological condition affecting nearly one in 26 people. It is characterized by recurrent, unprovoked seizures. You may have epilepsy if you experienced more than one seizure that was caused by an unknown and/or irreversible medical condition.
New cases of epilepsy are often diagnosed in children and people over age 55. Conditions such as strokes, brain tumors, and Alzheimer’s Disease can cause epilepsy, as well as traumatic brain injury.
How Does Epilepsy Affect Your Ability to Work?
This depends on the frequency and severity of seizures, as well as the sort of work you perform. Some people with epilepsy are able to work, while others face serious difficulty.
A seizure’s after-effects may also have an impact on ability to work. Side effects may include disorientation and slow response time.
If your employer is able to provide reasonable accommodation or adjust job duties, you may be able to continue working with epilepsy. Short-term disability leave may be appropriate in some situations. But for persistent epilepsy, a long-term disability claim may be necessary.
Long-Term Disability Claims for Epilepsy
Obtaining disability benefits for epilepsy can be difficult because of the unpredictability of the disorder. If you have not had a seizure within 30 days, LTD insurance companies may argue that you should return to work. However, your claim should stress the dangers of returning to work, along with documentation of unpredictable seizures. It is possible that seizures are stress related, and outside of work they are not as frequent. A doctor can provide this information for your disability case.
However, other conditions that coexist with epilepsy often contribute to the inability to work. Medical evidence for a successful LTD claim must show that the epilepsy is severe enough to impact the ability to perform work.
Medical Evidence in Epilepsy LTD Claims
Epilepsy is the result of abnormal brain cell activity. Seizures can thus impact any of the brain processes. You may have spells of confusion, jerking movements, loss of consciousness, and more. It’s important to fully document these effects of your condition. You may do that by reporting them to your doctor and keeping a record of them in a daily log. It’s also helpful if someone else sees these symptoms and can describe them as well.
When providing medical evidence to an LTD insurance company, your doctor will provide a medical statement and you will be able to include your own statement of the condition and how it affects you. While you should be as detailed as possible, be careful not to exaggerate.
Many disability insurance companies will not recognize the cognitive limitation that epilepsy causes, so you should provide ample documentation of how the condition affects your ability to focus, concentrate, and otherwise function cognitively.
Some of the medical evidence you provide to your LTD disability insurance company will be from neurological tests. A neurologist will perform a physical exam and make a detailed review of your brain and nervous system. An EEG (electroencephalogram) will likely be used to measure electrical activity in the brain. If you have epilepsy, your EEG results may be abnormal, and may even show where your seizures begin. Other tests that may be performed and that you should provide to your LTD carrier include:
- Blood chemistry
- Blood glucose levels
- Complete blood count (CBC)
- Kidney function tests
- Liver function tests
- Lumbar puncture (spinal tap)
- Infectious disease tests
- CT and/or MRI scan
You should also provide information about treatment and attempted treatment to your LTD insurer. Epilepsy is often treated with surgery or medication. Anticonvulsants may prevent seizures or help to diminish the severity of them. When epilepsy does not get better after two or three anti-seizure drugs have been tested, it is called “medically refractory epilepsy.”
Surgery may be an option to place a vagus nerve stimulator (VNS), which is similar to a heart pacemaker.
Contact a Long-Term Disability Attorney Today
Is epilepsy a disability? In most cases, yes. Epilepsy is difficult to manage and can keep you from working, which often makes long-term disability benefits a necessity. If you have questions about your specific case, speak to CJ Henry Law Firm, PLLC today.