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Does A Child With Epilepsy Qualify For Disability Benefits?

Published on March 18th, 2024

In recent years, the prevalence of epilepsy in children has become a growing concern in the United States.

Depending on the severity and frequency of seizures, Epilepsy can significantly impact a child’s daily life and may qualify as a disabling condition under certain criteria.

To determine if a child with epilepsy qualifies for disability benefits, the severity and frequency of seizures are key factors that must be proved in a claim.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) assesses whether the condition severely limits the child’s ability to function in daily life. To better help parents understand how they can pursue social security disability benefits, our team has constructed the following guide that can help you throughout the claims process.

Epilepsy Defined

Epilepsy, a neurological disorder, is marked by recurrent, unprovoked seizures such as complex partial seizures and generalized tonic-clonic seizures.

These seizures can vary, ranging from convulsions and sensory disturbances to loss of consciousness. The impact on brain functioning and quality of life for individuals with epilepsy can be profound. Triggers for epilepsy can include but are not limited to the following:

  • Specific times of the day or night that can trigger seizures
  • Sleep deprivation
    • This includes being overly tired, not sleeping well, not getting enough sleep, or having disrupted sleep.
  • Viral and bacterial illnesses
  • Exposure to flashing bright lights or patterns.
  • High levels of stress or emotional distress.
  • Dietary factors
    • These can include not eating well, going long periods without eating, dehydration, low blood sugar, or deficiencies in vitamins and minerals.
  • Specific foods or high caffeine intake can aggravate seizures.
  • Use of certain medications that have seizures as a side effect
  • Missing prescribed medications

Diagnosing epilepsy typically involves comprehensive neurological examinations, reviewing the patient’s medical history, and conducting tests like EEG (electroencephalogram), which tracks electrical activity in the brain.

Is Epilepsy A Developmental Disability?

While epilepsy is not in itself a developmental disability, it can significantly affect developmental progress, especially in children. It may co-occur with developmental delays or other developmental disorders, thereby complicating a child’s overall development and learning abilities.

Parents of children with epilepsy often face challenges in managing both the seizures and the potential developmental impacts.

As a condition itself and a symptom of other disabling conditions, parents need to consider applying for disability benefits that could offer some relief.

Epilepsy As A Symptom Of Other Disabilities

In some cases, epileptic seizures serve as a symptom of other disabilities, such as cerebral palsy, autism spectrum disorders, or certain genetic conditions.

These underlying conditions can manifest epilepsy as one of their symptoms, necessitating a holistic approach to treatment and care. It’s also possible for the medications used for epilepsy to cause disabling side effects that could significantly impact your child’s quality of life

Such cases might also qualify for disability benefits under programs like Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability for intellectual disability.

Medical Evidence Needed To Qualify For Disability

For a condition like epilepsy, which is viewed by the SSA as a symptom or side effect of a disabling condition, comprehensive medical evidence is essential. To solidify your child’s case for disability benefits, here’s what you’ll need:

  • Detailed medical records documenting the diagnosis of epilepsy
  • Reports of the frequency, intensity, and type of seizures.
  • Treatment records, including medications and therapies, and their effectiveness.
  • Impact on the child’s daily functioning and development.

Aging Into Adulthood: Epilepsy & Disability Benefits

As they grow, many individuals with epilepsy experience improvements in their condition, especially with effective treatment and management strategies.

Children who receive SSDI or SSI benefits due to epilepsy may have the potential to enter the workforce as adults, depending on the progression and treatment of their condition. This progression could mean that they are not awarded disability benefits in adulthood.

For those continuing to receive SSDI or SSI benefits into adulthood, it’s important to understand the requirements for maintaining these benefits:

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