Children with frequent seizures and low income can qualify for disability benefits from SSI.
Does a Child With Epilepsy Meet the Definition of Disabled?
The SSA has identified some medical conditions that are severe enough to usually warrant an approval of benefits. These conditions are known as “impairment listings.” Each listing has certain requirements, all of which must be satisfied, in order to be approved. Epilepsy is one of these conditions that may entitle your child to an automatic approval of benefits. But if your child’s condition doesn’t meet the requirements of one of the listings below, there is another way to qualify as disabled.
Listing for Convulsive Epilepsy
To be approved for disability under this listing, your child must have been diagnosed with convulsive epilepsy and have been on seizure medication for at least three months. The other requirements depend on how often your child has seizures.
If your child has major motor seizures (usually called tonic-clonic or grand mal seizures) at least once a month, your child’s seizures must either occur during the day and be convulsive and/or cause loss of consciousness or must occur at night but negatively affect your child’s daytime activities.
If your child has had at least one major motor seizure in the last year, your child must also have:
- an IQ of 70 or less
- significant interference with his ability to communicate because of speech, hearing, or visual defects
- a significant mental disorder, or
- significant adverse side effects from medication that interfere with your child’s major daily activities.
Listing for Non-Convulsive Epilepsy
To satisfy the listing requirements for non-convulsive epilepsy, your child must have received a definitive diagnosis of a seizure disorder and have more than one minor motor seizure (such as a petit mal or partial seizure) per week, despite at least three months of prescribed treatment. Also, your child’s seizure must cause either:
- an alteration of awareness during the seizures, or
- a loss of consciousness during the seizures.
It may be helpful to talk to your child’s neurologist to see if her epilepsy meets the listing requirements. You can visit the SSA’s website for more information about the childhood epilepsy listing.
How Can My Child Get SSI If His Epilepsy Doesn’t Meet the Listing?
Here are the six areas of functioning (called domains) the SSA will assess:
- learning and using information
- attending and completing tasks
- interacting and relating with others
- moving about and manipulating objects
- caring for personal needs, and
- the child’s general health and physical well-being.
If Social Security finds that your child’s functioning in these areas is extremely or markedly limited, your child will be approved for SSI. For more information on how the SSA assesses how significantly your child’s seizure disorder affects these domains, see our article on functionally equaling the listings.
Getting Help From an Attorney
Trying to prove your child’s condition fits into Social Security’s definition for disability can be difficult and time-consuming, especially for a parent who is caring for a disabled child. It may be helpful to talk about your child’s case with a disability attorney who is experienced in representing children. To find an attorney in your area to talk to, fill out our request for consultation with a disability attorney.
The requirements are a bit different for adults with epilepsy; if you are an adult, see our article on disability for adults with epilepsy for more information.
Source: The Medicine