Disabling Condition: Neurological Disorders

by Editorial Board on September 6, 2010 · 0 comments

in Neurological Disorders

Conditions covered include epilepsy/seizures (grand mal, petit mal), stroke, brain or spinal cord tumors, brain trauma, Parkinson, cerebral palsy, MS, ALS, MD, peripheral neuropathies.


  1. What is the frequency and duration of your seizures?
  2. Are you on medications to control your seizures?
  3. Does your doctor take blood to check to see how much of this medication is in your body?
  4. Does the dosage of medication that you take that controls the seizures cause unwanted side effects?
  5. Have you had an EEG test?
  6. Do you keep a log, journal, or a calendar of episodes?


  1. Are you status post physical therapy with residual problems?  If so, what are they (balance, weakness, left sided paralysis, vision, shaking, speech, bladder, etc)?
  2. If you have mental problems since the stroke, have you had neuro-psychiatric testing?
  3. Do you take medications for high blood pressure to prevent another stroke?

Multiple sclerosis (MS)

  1. Have you had a brain MRI?  If so, did it show demyelination?
  2. Do you take Amitrex?  Do you have side effects?
  3. Do you have vision problems?
  4. Do you experience fatigue?

Our nervous system relays electrical signals throughout our body to direct behavior and movement.  Disorders are usually related to a disturbance of this pathway from the brain, thru the spinal cord and down the peripheral nerves.

For instance, seizures start with abnormal electrical activity in the brain causing the body to shake rapidly and uncontrollably.  They are disabling when they occur more than once a month despite treatment.  Although most seizures last for only a few minutes, most people will sleep afterwards and still feel disoriented when they wake up.  Critical to establishing the severity of this disorder is documentation establishing the frequency and duration of an episodes or attacks.   It is also important to have on-going treatment, preferably with a neurologist to establish compliance.  Only seizures which are not controlled by medical intervention will be considered.

When blood vessels in the brain become weak, they can leak causing the affected area to die.  This is known as a stroke and it is often caused by high blood pressure (a less than adequate force exerted to circulate blood in the blood vessels).  Strokes can vary in intensity but most leave a person with residual neurological problems.  If the stroke was not severe, many people recover eventually from the damage and regain use of their body.  As such, Social Security does not consider every stroke disabling, only those that result in permanent and significant damage.  Social Security will review post-stroke medical records to make this determination.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is really an autoimmune disorder.  The body attacks the protective myelin which coats and insulates nerve fibers in and around the brain and spinal cord.  Like seizures and other autoimmune disorders (lupus, rheumatoid arthritis), it is episodic.  But this condition is much more unpredictable in duration of both episodes and remissions.   While the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) includes the use of a brain MRI to diagnose the condition, the criteria does allow diagnosis in the clinical setting (physical examination) without an MRI if at least 2 episodes are observed.  Social Security also does not require an MRI to establish the disabling nature of the condition in any particular individual.  Most people with MS experience a chronic fatigue which can lead to a misdiagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome.

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