Young man using an asthma inhaler

Determining Disability Eligibility for Episodic Conditions

Proving disability when you apply for benefits under the Social Security Administration can be difficult and frustrating. This is especially the case when your condition isn’t one of their listed automatic qualifiers, or when it only creates episodic or intermittent symptoms.

In such cases, you’ll need to demonstrate frequency and severity to back up your claim that you’re unable to work. Learn how to determine whether you are eligible to receive disability for episodic conditions and why a California disability lawyer can help your case.

Disability for Episodic Conditions

The best way to qualify for disability for episodic conditions is to prove that the symptoms of your condition flare up and get worse frequently enough that you never know when they’re going to interrupt your ability to live a normal life. You’ll need to prove that they are frequent, recurring, and severe as well as potentially unexpected. In some cases, the SSA will specify exactly how frequent and serious symptoms must be.

Illnesses with Specified Frequencies

There are seven illnesses listed by the Social Security Administration which can qualify you for disability if your symptoms are frequent enough. These are known as “listing-level” frequency illnesses, and they are as follows:

  1.      Epilepsy or seizure disorders: more than one episode per month
  2.      Asthma: at minimum once per two months, or three times per year
  3.      Recurrent Arrhythmia: You must suffer three within 12 consecutive months
  4.      Sickle Cell Disease: You must have three flare-ups over a five month period.
  5.      Ischemic heart disease, also known as coronary artery disease: You must have three episodes of hospitalization for bypass surgery or angioplasty within a one-year stretch.
  6.      Mental health disorders: These require three episodes of progressive severity over the course of a year, averaging at least one per four months, and lasting a minimum of two weeks at a time.
  7.      Autoimmune diseases: These require three flare-ups in a year, with each repeated episode lasting for a minimum of two weeks. If the flare-ups happen more frequently, the two-week length isn’t required.

Other Disorders

Disorders other than those above may be recognized by the SSA, but may not have listing-level frequencies. Meniere’s disease, for example, is listed in the SSA’s disorders, but no specific frequency for flare-ups is included beyond “frequent.” Other illnesses defined as episodic without frequencies include myasthenia gravis and multiple sclerosis.

In general, if you have at least three flare-ups in a year you can argue that the impairment causes disability. You may also be able to compare your flare-ups to one that does have a listing-level. If you have anxiety attacks requiring you to be hospitalized, for example, you can compare the results for impairment to those for coronary artery disease hospitalization.

Hire a Disability Attorney

When it comes to arguing disability for episodic conditions, your best bet is always to secure the services of a disability attorney. An attorney will know how to argue your condition, compare it to others, and get you the benefits you need. In Southern California, call the Law Offices of Dr. Bill LaTour for help with your SSDI application and get the benefits you need.

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