If you have a seizure disorder, you might be able to get SSI for epilepsy. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a government program that provides monthly payments to people with disabilities who are on a lower income. It’s meant to cover basic needs, including food, clothing and housing.
Living with epilepsy is expensive. According to studies, the costs of treating epilepsy ranges from around $8,500 - $11,500 per year in the US, and that’s before other healthcare expenses.
While people with epilepsy are often able to work, this isn’t possible for everyone. Seizures can be severe, frequent and hard to control with medication. It can also take hours or even days to recover - which makes getting a job and paying for treatment very hard. SSI may therefore help some people with epilepsy.
Is epilepsy a disability?
Yes, epilepsy is considered a disability by the Social Security Administration (SSA). In Section 11.02 of the ‘Blue Book’ (which describes all recognized disabilities), the SSA describes which kinds of symptoms and factors would make someone eligible for SSI.
Exact requirements depend on the kind of seizures you have, but you usually need to be able to show:
- You have seizures at least once per month for tonic clonic seizures, or once per week for other seizure types
- You have been having the seizures for at least three months
- You are continuing to have seizures, despite following a treatment plan
Suggested: Guide to discrimination and jobs with epilepsy
Who can get SSI for epilepsy?
The most important thing that affects your ability to get SSI is your finances. The SSA says: “You may be able to get SSI if your resources are worth $2,000 or less”. This means that the combination of your income from work PLUS any other sources of wealth you have (for example, property or savings) must be less than $2,000 per month.
You also need to prove:
- You have frequent, uncontrolled seizures
- Your seizures are currently being treated
- You are actively following a treatment plan
- Your seizures prevent you from being able to work (or from earning enough to cover your essential costs)
How much disability can I get for epilepsy?
So, how much disability can you get for epilepsy? In 2023, monthly SSI payments are set at a maximum of $914 for individuals. You may get less than this depending on where you live, or if you have other sources of income.
Good to know: If you get SSDI, you can also apply for SSI.
How can you get SSI for epilepsy?
The Social Security Administration uses a five-step process to decide if you are eligible for SSI:
1. Your income
As noted above, you can’t get SSI if you have an income above a set limit.
2. Severity of your disability
The SSA will request evidence that proves the severity of your epilepsy. You will need to fill in forms and questionnaires about your daily living, and show that seizures prevent you from doing a job.
3. Medical evidence
You must provide evidence that you’ve been having seizures on a regular basis for at least three months, and that they have continued despite your receiving treatment. You also need to show the seizures (or their after-effects) interfere with your daily activities. For example, you need to show that you feel very tired or unable to concentrate after having a seizure.
4. Ability to work
The SSA will also carry out an assessment of your ability to do work-like activities, including looking at any previous jobs you’ve held in the past. The idea is to see if you might still be able to do a job, if adjustments were made.
5. Other work
The SSA will see if they think you could do any other jobs with your existing skills, despite your seizures.
To start the process, contact your local SSA office for an initial appointment.
Is it hard to get SSI for epilepsy?
Unfortunately it can be hard to get this form of social security if you don’t have enough written evidence. To get SSI for epilepsy, you need proof from your doctor, you have to fill in quite a few forms at the SSA office, and also provide information about your work, medical and financial history. You might need written evidence from friends and family about how your seizures affect you.
You also have to prove that you are actively following a treatment program and that you are having seizures frequently. You might find it helpful to use Epsy here. Our easy-to-use app reminds you to take your seizure medication and helps with recording any seizures. You might be able to use this as evidence.
If you are denied SSI for epilepsy, you can make an appeal against the decision. It might be worth contacting charities or legal experts who can support your application. The Disability Benefits Help website can be a good place to start if you’re denied SSI for epilepsy. The service helps you find independent attorneys and experts who can help with your case.
If you believe you’re eligible for SSI for epilepsy, then it’s definitely worth applying. Although the process can be complicated, the financial support could make a huge difference.