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IL disability lawyerEpilepsy is a disorder of the central nervous system that frequently leads to seizures and other unusual behaviors, such as loss of awareness. And while many people are able to lead a full, active life with epilepsy, there are cases where the symptoms may be so severe as to render an individual unable to work. In such circumstances, epilepsy may qualify as a disability for Social Security purposes.

Court of Appeals: Social Security Improperly Discounted Views of Disability Applicant's Primary Care Doctor

Of course, Social Security may attempt to minimize or disregard the impact of epilepsy on a disability applicant. Although Social Security administrative law judges (ALJs) are normally expected to give great weight to the medical conclusions of a disability applicant's treating physician, we often see cases where just the opposite occurs: The ALJ will discount the treating physician's views without offering sufficient reasons for doing so.

Such practices may be commonplace at Social Security, but they are in direct contravention of the law. For example, the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals here in Chicago recently ordered Social Security to conduct a new disability hearing for a 27-year-old applicant (the plaintiff) who filed for benefits on the basis of his epilepsy. The plaintiff's primary care physician explained that despite medication, the plaintiff suffered from “chronic fatigue, memory loss and the need to lie down frequently.” It was the primary care physician's expert opinion that the plaintiff's epileptic seizures had caused “brain damage” and that even if the plaintiff could find work he would “need frequent breaks and miss work frequently because of his symptoms.”


Chicago disability benefits lawyer, severe impairmentThere are five steps Social Security must follow in assessing an application for disability benefits. The second step is a “medical screen to deny applicants without a severe impairment.” If the applicant presents medical evidence indicating nothing more than a “slight abnormality” that only has a minimal effect on their ability to work, then Social Security can reject the disability claim without conducting any further analysis.

It is important to note, however, that this Step 2 analysis is only designed to weed out groundless claims. Only in later steps should Social Security get into a more detailed assessment of the applicant's medical condition and capacity to work. Unfortunately, there have been a number of cases in Illinois recently where Social Security has tried to short-circuit applicants' due process rights by improperly denying a claim at Step 2.

Social Security Ordered to Hear Silicosis Victim's Case for a Third Time


b2ap3_thumbnail_heart-condition-Chicago.jpgThere are a number of heart-related medical conditions that may qualify you for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. Congestive heart failure, heart muscle disease (cardiomyopathy), and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can all limit a person's ability to maintain full-time employment. Other medical impairments, such as obesity and hypertension, may further aggravate existing heart conditions even if they do not independently qualify as disabilities.

Federal Court Cites Multiple Errors in Social Security Denial

As with any disability, it is essential to provide Social Security with reliable medical evidence documenting your conditions and any treatments you received. Even with such evidence, many Social Security officials will look for any reason to discredit your case and deny benefits. This can lead to an extended appeals process just to get Social Security to treat you fairly.


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