If you are unable to work due to epilepsy and you have a disability insurance policy, you may qualify for long term disability (LTD) benefits. Your insurance company will review your claim to see if you meet the requirements of the insurance plan.
What is Epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a brain disorder in which a person has repeated seizures or convulsions. Seizures are the result of disturbed brain activity, and may cause changes in attention or behavior.
Causes, Incidence, and Risk Factors
Epilepsy typically occurs when permanent changes in brain tissue cause the brain to be excitable or jumpy. The brain sends out abnormal signals, which results in repeated, unpredictable seizures. A single seizure that does not repeat is not considered epilepsy.
Epilepsy may be caused by a medical condition or injury that affects the brain, or the cause may be unknown (idiopathic).
Common causes of epilepsy include:
- Stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA);
- Dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease;
- Traumatic brain injury;
- Infections, including brain abscess, meningitis, encephalitis, and AIDS;
- Brain problems that are present at birth (congenital brain defect);
- Brain injury that occurs during or near birth;
- Metabolism disorders present at birth (such as phenylketonuria);
- Brain tumor;
- Abnormal blood vessels in the brain;
- Other illness that damage or destroy brain tissue; or
- Use of certain medications, including antidepressants, tramadol, cocaine, and amphetamines
Epilepsy seizures typically begin between ages 5 and 20, but they can happen at any age.
Symptoms vary between individuals. Some may have simple staring spells, while others have violent shaking and loss of consciousness. The resulting seizure depends upon the part of the brain affected and the underlying cause of epilepsy.
Most of the time, the seizure is similar to the one before. Some patients with epilepsy have reported a strange sensation (such as tingling, smelling an odor that isn’t actually there, or emotional changes) before each seizure. This is called an aura.
Signs and Tests
The doctor, usually a neurologist, performs a physical exam and takes a detailed look at the brain and nervous system.
An EEG (electroencephalogram) will measure the electrical activity in the brain. Patients with epilepsy will often have abnormal electrical activity on this test. In some cases, the test may show the area in the brain where the seizures begin. The brain may even appear normal after a seizure or between seizures.
Additional tests that may be performed include:
- Blood chemistry;
- Blood sugar;
- CBC (complete blood count);
- Kidney function tests;
- Liver function tests;
- Lumbar puncture (spinal tap); and/or
- Tests for infectious diseases
A brain/head CT or MRI scan is often done to find the cause and location of the problem in the brain.
Treatment for epilepsy may include medication or surgery.
Medication to prevent seizures, called anticonvulsants, may also reduce the number of future seizures. Epilepsy that does not get better after two or three anti-seizure drugs have been tested is called “medically refractory epilepsy.”
Each medicine works in different ways, and some medicines work better than others to treat certain types of seizures. Keep in mind that if one medication treatment fails, another may be more successful.
Most of the following medicines do not actually “fix” the problems that cause seizures. Instead, they are intended to stop the seizures from ever occurring.
The following drugs are currently approved and marketed for epilepsy in countries around the world:
- Carbatrol ®;
- Depakene ®;
- Depakote ®;
- Depakote ER ®;
- Dilantin ®;
- Felbatol ®;
- Gabitril ®;
- Inovelon ®;
- Keppra ®;
- Keppra XR ™;
- Lamictal ®;
- Mysoline ®;
- Neurontin ®;
- Phenytek ®;
- Tegretol ®;
- Tegretol XR ®;
- Topamax ®;
- Trileptal ®;
- Valproic Acid;
- Zarontin ®;
- Zonegran ®; and
If epileptic seizures are due to a tumor, abnormal blood vessels, or bleeding in the brain, surgery to treat these disorders may cause the seizures to stop. Surgery to place a vagus nerve stimulator (VNS) may even be recommended. This device is similar to a heart pacemaker.
Hire a Long Term Disability Lawyer to Help with Your Claim
Hiring an experienced disability attorney will improve your chances of receiving the benefits you deserve. Even if your claim has been denied, the fight is not over. Many claims are initially denied or will be wrongfully terminated at some point. You have the right to appeal a denial of benefits and to submit additional evidence in support of your claim. Hiring an expert to help with your appeal can make the difference between being denied and being approved for benefits.
The appeal process may be daunting, but our legal team will guide you through every step of the process. There are no upfront costs or unexpected bills, and you won’t pay any attorney fees unless we recover your benefits. We represent claimants anywhere in the United States. If you would like to talk to an experienced disability lawyer about your epilepsy and how it impacts your ability to work, call us at (888) 321-8131. We would be happy to evaluate your case and to discuss how to help you through the appeal process.