How to Get Disability Benefits for Children with Epilepsy

May 24, 2017
Dayes Law Firm

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) may be available to children who have epilepsy if they meet certain requirements outlined by the Social Security Administration (SSA) and their parents have low assets or income.

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder characterized by a pattern of recurring and unexpected seizures that are caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain.

Although epilepsy can occur at any age, young children and the elderly are most likely to develop this condition. Some of the most common causes of epilepsy include:

  • Genetic factors
  • Brain malformations
  • Lack of oxygen during birth
  • Intracranial hemorrhage
  • Infections of the brain
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Congenital conditions like Down’s syndrome
  • Stroke

Types of Epileptic Seizures

According to the International League Against Epilepsy, the scientific body dedicated to the study of seizures, epileptic seizures are classified based on three key factors:

  • Where the seizures begin in the brain
  • Awareness levels during the seizures
  • Other features of the seizures

The SSA recognizes three types of epileptic seizures as the most common potentially disabling types of seizures in children:

Generalized Tonic-Clonic Seizures

Generalized tonic-clonic seizures start in both sides of the brain and cause an individual to lose consciousness. They combine the characteristics of tonic and clonic seizures, which includes muscle stiffening (tonic) and rhythmical jerking (clonic).

This type of seizure is also known as a convulsion and is the image that comes to mind for most people when they hear the term seizure.

During the tonic phase, which usually comes first, the individual’s muscles will stiffen and the person will fall to the floor. Air being forced through the vocal cords could lead to a groan or cry.

The seizure will then shift into the clonic phase, which will cause the arms and legs to jerk rapidly, bending and relaxing at the joints. After a few minutes, the jerking will stop and the person will slowly return to consciousness.

These seizures typically last one to three minutes. Emergency help should be called for seizures lasting longer than five minutes.

Absence Seizures

Absence seizures are also generalized onset seizures, which means they begin in both sides of the brain. This type of epileptic seizure impairs an individual’s awareness of what is happening at the time.

It can cause an individual to stop what he or she is doing and blank out, or stare into space with a blank look as if he or she is daydreaming and completely unaware of his or her surroundings. The eyes may look upward and flutter. A typical absence seizure will last approximately 10 seconds.

Atypical absence seizures can last 20 seconds or more and can have a slower onset that starts with staring into space and can include fluttering of the eyelids, smacking of the lips and rubbing fingers together.

In both cases, the individual will recover from the seizure awake and focused. Children can have multiple seizures in a row, sometimes reaching hundreds of seizures in a day, depending on the individual.

Focal Dyscognitive Seizures

Focal dyscognitive seizures result from abnormal activity in just one area of the brain. This type of seizure also causes an individual to lose awareness of his or her environment and stare into space.

During this time, he or she will not be able to respond to questions and may engage in repetitive behaviors such as:

  • Chewing
  • Uncoordinated activity
  • Picking at things
  • Walking aimlessly
  • Mumbling

This type of seizure can last two to four minutes, followed by a period of confusion.

Qualifying for Epilepsy Disability Benefits

In order to determine if your child qualifies for SSI, the SSA will evaluate your child’s condition to see if it meets the official disability listing for children diagnosed with epilepsy: 111.02.

To qualify under this listing, you must provide a detailed description of your child’s seizures from a physician who has observed the types of seizures your child experiences. This must include one of the following:

  • Generalized tonic-clonic seizures that occur at least once a month for three consecutive months despite following prescribed treatment
  • Focal dyscognitive seizures or absence seizures that occur at least once a week for three consecutive months despite following prescribed treatment

When counting the number of seizures your child has, the SSA will consider:

  • Multiple seizures that occur in one 24-hour period as one seizure
  • A continuous series of seizures during which the child does not regain consciousness between each as one seizure
  • A dyscognitive seizure that develops into a generalized tonic-clonic seizure as one generalized tonic-clonic seizure

The SSA considers a patient to have followed prescribed treatment if he or she has taken medication or followed other treatments prescribed by a physician. If your child’s condition continues despite following his or her doctor’s orders, he or she has met this requirement for the listing.

If your child’s condition does not meet the requirements of the epilepsy listing, it may be possible to obtain disability benefits if it can be demonstrated that his or her condition severely limits his or her ability to function in several key areas of life.

Having a disability advocate help you with the application will be important to ensuring you have the information necessary to show your child’s impairment.

Get Experienced Help with Your Child’s Epilepsy Disability Application

A disability advocate is a vital resource when applying for disability benefits. One of our experienced social security disability attorneys will work with you to gather the necessary evidence and documentation to build your claim and will ensure that all paperwork is submitted on time.

We will handle the details of your claim so you can focus on your child’s care.

Contact Dayes Law Firm PC today for a free, no obligation consultation.

Call 1-800-503-2000 or complete a Free Case Evaluation form.