Guest post by Molly Clark
Some people who have epilepsy experience severely debilitating forms of the condition. If epilepsy prevents you from keeping a job or earning a living, you may qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits.
Disability benefits can be used to offset lost income, medical costs, and even day-to-day expenses. Here are some tips to provide you with a general understanding of SSD benefits, and prepare you for the application process.
Social Security Disability Benefit Programs
The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers two types of disability benefits—Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
SSDI is an insurance-type benefit that offers financial assistance to disabled workers and their eligible dependents. To qualify for SSDI, applicants are required to have paid a certain amount of Social Security taxes throughout their employment history. For an in depth look at SSDI technical criteria visit the following page: http://www.disability-benefits-help.org/glossary/social-security-disability-insurance-ssdi.
SSI is a need-based program that offers financial assistance to disabled individuals who earn very little income. To qualify for SSI, applicants must fall within the financial limits set by the SSA. For further details on SSI technical eligibility, visit the following page: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/ssi/text-eligibility-ussi.htm.
Military service members can receive benefits through Social Security. These benefits are different than those from the Department of Veterans Affairs and require a separate application. Expedited processing of disability claims is available to military service members from Social Security. For additional information on these benefits and expedited processing of claims visit: http://www.ssa.gov/woundedwarriors/.
In addition to meeting SSI or SSDI technical criteria, applicants must also meet certain medical criteria. These requirements can be found in the SSA’s official manual of disabling conditions—known as the SSA’s blue book. Epilepsy is evaluated under two different blue book listings. These are as follows:
- 11.02 – Convulsive Epilepsy
- 11.03 – Non-Convulsive Epilepsy
To qualify for either type of disability benefits, applicants must meet the medical criteria under one of these listings. View these listings in their entirety, here: http://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/11.00-Neurological-Adult.htm
SSD Application Process
Prior to beginning the application process, it is important that you collect medical documentation to support your claim. Without it, your application will likely be delayed or even denied. This may include record of your diagnosis and information on the severity, frequency, and type of seizures you experience. You will find a complete list of all required medical and non-medical documents on the following page: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/disability/Documents/Checklist%20-%20Adult.pdf.
Once you are ready to begin the application process, you can do so on the SSA’s website or in person at your local Social Security office. Answer all questions completely and accurately. Any missing or inconsistent information can hurt you in the long run.
Receiving a Decision
After submitting your application, you may not receive a decision for several months. While you wait you should continue taking any prescribed medical treatment and continue to collect relevant medical records. Doing so will prepare you for the appeals process, should your initial claim be denied.
If your claim is in fact denied, you will have 60 days in which to appeal this decision. Although the appeals process can be overwhelming, it is often a necessary step toward receiving disability benefits. In fact, many more applicants are approved during the appeals processes than during the initial application.
For more information about epilepsy and SSD benefits, visit Social Security Disability Help (http://www.disability-benefits-help.org/disabling-conditions/epilepsy-and-social-security-disability) or contact Molly Clarke at firstname.lastname@example.org.