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Tampa Social Security Disability Benefits for Seizures

June 22, 2016 Blog

Seizures occur when there is unusual electrical activity in the brain.  Common symptoms include a loss of consciousness, uncontrolled shaking, and sudden mood changes. You may qualify for Tampa Social Security Disability Benefits for Seizures.

If you file for Tampa Social Security disability benefits for seizures, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will look closely at the type of your seizures, how long the seizures last, the frequency of seizure activity, and what normally happens when you are experiencing a seizure.  To receive disability benefits, you will need to show that you have been diagnosed with a seizure disorder (or epilepsy), you will have this condition for at least 12 months, and that your seizures meet a disability listing or affect your residual functional capacity (RFC) in such a way that you are unable to perform full-time work.

In the SSA’s own Program Operations Manual (POMS) and rulings, the agency states that an individual needs to have an ongoing treating relationship with a physician for an epilepsy disorder to be properly evaluated.  Regular visits to an outpatient clinic can be used to show a treating relationship.  In addition, if medical records show that frequent seizures are occurring in spite of anticonvulsant therapy, then additional medical evidence will be needed to prove whether the seizures are due to factors outside of the individual’s control or whether the individual is being noncompliant with their medication.  SSA might need a copy of a report showing your blood levels of certain drugs to indicate that you are regularly taking any prescribed medicine.  You can also explain that you are not taking medication because you are experiencing side effects.  Furthermore, if drug addiction and alcohol are an issue in your case, the SSA does not consider these to be good reasons for not following treatment.


The Listing of Impairments and Seizures

The first way to receive Social Security disability benefits for a seizure disorder is to meet or equal all the medical requirements of a disability listing found in the SSA’s Listing of Impairments.

To meet Listing 11.02 for Epilepsy- convulsive (grand mal), you must provide the following evidence of:

(1) a typical seizure pattern,

(2) major motor seizures which happen more frequently than once a month despite at least 3 months of prescribed treatment, and

(3) daytime episodes with a loss of consciousness, or nighttime episodes with residual symptoms that significantly interfere with your daily activity.

To meet Listing 11.03 for Epilepsy- nonconvulsive (petit mal), you must provide the following evidence of:

(1) a typical seizure pattern,

(2) minor motor seizures which happen more frequently than once weekly despite at least 3 months of treatment, and

(3) a loss of consciousness, change of awareness, or symptoms that significantly interfere with your daily activity.

Descriptions of typical seizure patterns may include opinions, notes, tests, and clinical findings from your treating doctor.  The SSA will also want any copies of EEG testing that show neurological activity that is consistent with epilepsy.  Other evidence can include letters from witnesses who have observed the seizure activity.  In addition, your treating doctor can write a letter stating that your seizure condition is medically equivalent to either Listing 11.02 or 11.03.  Children can be evaluated for an epilepsy listing within the Childhood Listing of Impairments.


Your RFC and Seizure Disorders

If your seizure disorder has been identified as a severe impairment by your doctor, but it does not meet the listing requirements, then the Social Security Administration will evaluate your RFC.  Your RFC, or residual functional capacity, is an assessment of your physical and mental limitations.  The RFC assessment must take into consideration all of your diagnosed impairments.  The Social Security Administration will use your residual functional capacity to determine whether you can perform your past work, or whether there are any jobs in the national economy that you can hypothetically perform.

If you are diagnosed with a seizure disorder or epilepsy, the SSA might include just the bare minimum restrictions on driving, working at heights, or working around hazards.  However, these limitations will not automatically restrict you from performing your past relevant work or from performing other jobs in the economy.

Instead, an experienced Social Security disability attorney will consider whether your medical records support additional restrictions resulting from your seizure disorder.  For instance, seizures can affect your ability to maintain concentration and attention throughout a workday.  After a seizure episode, you may feel fatigue and must lie down for a couple of hours.  As such, it can limit your ability to work even a simple or unskilled job.  However, the SSA will include these limitations of concentration and attention in your RFC only if you have clinical findings supporting the frequency of your seizures.  Your own personal observations of your seizures will not be considered sufficient evidence.

You should consider working with a Social Security disability attorney so that all your limitations resulting from your seizures are reflected in your RFC assessment.