If your seizures are severe enough to impede your ability to work despite treatment, Social Security disability benefits may be an option. However, the application process is challenging, requiring strict adherence to the Social Security Administration’s criteria. 

It becomes more favorable if seizures are linked to or compounded by another qualifying condition, such as epilepsy, diabetes, heart disease, or brain injuries, which can strengthen your disability claim. It’s essential to navigate this intricate process with comprehensive medical documentation and, if possible, professional assistance.

What Is Seizure?

A seizure is a sudden, uncontrolled electrical disturbance in the brain that can result in various symptoms, ranging from temporary confusion and staring spells to uncontrollable muscle movements and loss of consciousness. 

Seizures can be caused by various factors, including epilepsy, brain injuries, infections, or other medical conditions affecting the brain’s normal function. The severity and manifestations of seizures can vary widely among individuals.

Are Seizures a Disability?

If you experience seizures as an independent condition or a symptom of another ailment, you may be eligible for disability benefits. In 2021, around 9.4% of Social Security benefits recipients qualified due to a nervous system or sense organ disease, the category under which seizures fall, according to the Social Security Administration (SSA). 

Whether standalone or linked to another disability like epilepsy, the crucial factor is that your seizures hinder your ability to work, making you eligible for disability consideration. Navigating this process necessitates thorough medical documentation and recognition of your condition’s impact on your work capacity.

What Are The Symptoms Of a Seizure?

Seizure symptoms can include:

  • Temporary Confusion or Staring Spells: Brief episodes of confusion or unresponsiveness.
  • Uncontrollable Muscle Movements: Jerking or twitching movements, often involving the arms and legs.
  • Loss of Consciousness: Complete or partial loss of awareness and responsiveness.
  • Aura: Sensations like visual disturbances, smells, or emotions that precede a seizure.
  • Convulsions: Involuntary, rhythmic muscle contractions.
  • Automatisms: Repetitive, purposeless movements such as lip-smacking or hand-rubbing.

The specific symptoms vary depending on the type of seizure and individual characteristics.

What Type Of Seizures Qualify For Disability?

Various types of seizure disorders may qualify for disability benefits if they significantly impair your ability to work. The Social Security Administration (SSA) considers conditions like epilepsy and other disorders involving recurrent seizures as potentially qualifying. 

The key is demonstrating that your seizures, regardless of type, are severe enough to interfere with your capacity to perform substantial gainful activity. Comprehensive medical documentation, including details about seizures’ frequency, duration, and impact, is crucial for a successful disability claim. (Learn more on what is disability claim)

There are two primary categories of seizures, each with distinct subtypes:

  • Generalized Seizures:

These seizures impact both sides of the brain and can vary in severity. Subtypes include:

  • Absence Seizures (Petit Mal Seizures):

Brief lapses in awareness or staring spells.

  • Myoclonic Seizures:

Sudden, brief muscle jerks.

  • Tonic and Atonic Seizures:

Tonic involves stiffening, while atonic involves loss of muscle control.

  • Tonic, Clonic, and Tonic-Clonic (Grand Mal) Seizures:

Involving muscle rigidity, convulsions, and loss of consciousness.

  • Focal Seizures:

Also known as partial seizures, these affect only one brain area. They may or may not involve a loss of consciousness, with mild to severe symptoms. Subtypes include:

  • Simple Focal Seizures:

Symptoms are limited to specific bodily sensations or movements.

  • Complex Focal Seizures:

Involving altered consciousness and complex, purposeless movements.

  • Secondary Generalized Seizures:

It begins as focal seizures but spreads to involve both sides of the brain.

What Type Of Benefits Should I apply For?

If your seizures meet the criteria for disability, the next step is to apply for Social Security disability benefits. The application process can be lengthy, so starting as soon as possible is advisable.

Apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI):

  • SSDI: If you have a significant work history and have paid Social Security taxes, you may be eligible for SSDI.
  • SSI: If you have limited income and resources, you may qualify for SSI.

Learn more on SSDI v/s SSI

What To Do If I Meet The Eligibility Criteria of SSA?

If your seizures meet the eligibility criteria for disability, it’s advisable to initiate the application process promptly, recognizing that it can be a lengthy endeavor. If uncertainty persists, consider the following guidance:

Apply now if:

  • You’ve consulted with a neurologist regarding frequent and recurring seizures.
  • Despite treatment, seizures persist.
  • You have another qualifying health condition for disability.

Consider waiting and applying later if:

  • Your symptoms are moderate or show improvement with treatment.
  • You’re currently employed, even if future adjustments may be needed.

Probably don’t apply if:

  • You can effectively manage seizures while maintaining employment.
  • Your monthly earnings exceed approximately $1,400 (the income limit for SSDI and SSI).

What If My Seizures Don’t Meet The Criteria?

If your seizures do not initially meet the Social Security Administration’s criteria for disability benefits, you have the option to appeal the decision. The appeal process allows you to:

  • Submit additional medical evidence
  • Provide further documentation
  • Present your case in front of a judge

Initial disability claims often face denials, but the chances of approval increase during the appeal process. It’s essential to carefully follow the appeal procedures and, if possible, seek guidance from a disability attorney to strengthen your case. (Learn more about what social security disability lawyers do?)

How Much Is a Disability Check For Seizures?

On average, individuals with diseases of the nervous system and sense organs, which include seizures, receive approximately $1,342.17 per month in disability benefits. However, the actual amount can vary. In 2023, the maximum monthly benefit for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) will be $3,627, while Supplemental Security Income (SSI) will have a maximum of $914. 

These figures are consistent across qualifying conditions and determined based on work history, income sources, and assets. The specific amount you receive depends on your circumstances.

What To Do When Someone Is Having a Seizure?

When someone has a seizure, staying calm and focusing on ensuring their safety is crucial. First, create a safe space by removing sharp or dangerous objects nearby. 

Gently guide them to the ground to prevent injury during potential convulsions. Place the person on their side to aid breathing and allow fluids to drain from the mouth. 

Do not put anything in their mouth, as it can cause harm. Time the seizure duration and call for medical assistance if it lasts longer than five minutes or if another seizure quickly follows. 

Stay with the person until they fully recover and provide reassurance and support. After the seizure, help them regain their composure and understanding, as they may feel disoriented or fatigued.

Seizure Sisability Benefits Denied? Talk To An Attorney

If your seizure disability benefits are denied, it’s crucial to consult with an experienced Social Security Disability Lawyer. They can assess the details of your case, navigate the appeals process, gather additional evidence, and present a compelling argument on your behalf.