February 23, 2017


Seizure disorders, including epilepsy, cataplexy, generalized seizures and partial seizures, can support a finding of disabled by the Social Security Administration.  In every SSD case, the underlying question is “does your seizure disorder prevent you from reliably performing a simple, entry-level job 8 hours per day, 5 days per week?”

If your seizures cannot be controlled by medications and if you experience them frequently, it is likely that a Social Security adjudicator or judge will conclude that your medical condition prevents you from working a full time job.

There is no “magic number” to represent how many seizures is too many.  If you have experienced one seizure two years ago and nothing since, it is unlikely that you will win.   Similarly if your seizures arise from manageable medical conditions such as abnormal glucose or sodium levels in the blood, withdrawals from consuming prescription drugs, or high fevers, you most likely will not prevail based on seizures alone.

On the other hand, if you can document a 6 month history of experiencing weekly seizures not controlled by medication that leaves you exhausted for the rest of the day, you will almost certainly be approved.

As a rule of thumb, your chances at winning disability benefits increases if your medical record supports a conclusion that you would likely miss 3 or more days of work each month or that you would need to take more than three to four unscheduled breaks during the day.

Arguments to Win a Seizure Disorder Case

There are basically two arguments that you can use to win your seizure disability case.  The first is called “meeting a listing 1.”   Social Security’s seizure listing may be found here:

11.02 Epilepsy – convulsive epilepsy, (grand mal or psychomotor), documented by detailed description of a typical seizure pattern, including all associated phenomena; occurring more frequently than once a month, in spite of at least 3 months of prescribed treatment. With:

A. Daytime episodes (loss of consciousness and convulsive seizures) or

B. Nocturnal episodes manifesting residuals which interfere significantly with activity during the day.

11.03 Epilepsy – nonconvulsive epilepsy (petit mal, psychomotor, or focal), documented by detailed description of a typical seizure pattern including all associated phenomena, occurring more frequently than once weekly in spite of at least 3 months of prescribed treatment. With alteration of awareness or loss of consciousness and transient postictal manifestations of unconventional behavior or significant interference with activity during the day.

The second argument is called the functional capacity argument.  Here, you argue that even if you do not meet the listing, your condition – alone or in combination with other medical problems – leaves you unable to reliably perform any type of work.

This argument focuses on the more practical issues facing seizure patients – fatigue, transportation issues, associated depression, etc.

Click here to learn more about these seizure disorder arguments.

If you are experiencing seizures on any kind of consistent basis, please use the form on this page or click to request a confidential Social Security disability review.