Seizures and Epilepsy are neurological disorders that affect a person’s ability to perform tasks, sometimes even simple tasks, and leave many individuals unable to work. The Social Security Administration (SSA) classifies Epilepsy as a neurological disorder under Listing 11.02 and 11.03 of the Impairment Listing Manual. We say individuals with purpose here as there are many types and levels of seizures, and they have a wide variety of effect on that individual.  Disability applicants certainly can receive benefits but SSA bases a determination on the severity and frequency of the seizures, potentially in combination with other health issues.  Social Security will first examine the frequency, duration and severity of the applicant’s seizures. To meet Listing 11.02 for convulsive epilepsy, grand mal, seizures must occur more frequently than once a month. To meet Listing 11.03 for nonconvulsive epilepsy, petit mal, seizures must occur more than once weekly. Both Listings require that the applicant have frequent seizures despite at least 3 months of prescribed treatment. The applicant must also show that at least one seizure meets the detailed description of a typical seizure. This includes tongue bites, injuries associated with attack, postical phenomena, presence or absence of aura, and sphincter control.


The applicant also plays an integral role in the success of winning a disability claim based on seizures.  The applicant should keep a written diary to document the frequency and severity of seizures. Further, the applicant must stay compliant with prescribed treatment and medical advice in order to prove that the 3 month prescribed treatment requirement is fulfilled. Further, consistent medical treatment can help win the case because Social Security also analyzes the aftermath of seizures. Medical records document how the seizure affects the applicant afterwards and can help prove the claimant’s inability to sustain gainful employment.


If the applicant’s seizures and epilepsy are not severe enough to meet Listing 11.02 or 11.03, it is still possible that the seizures, along with other disabling conditions, prevent the applicant from sustaining gainful employment.