Disability Benefits and Living with Epilepsy

Disability Benefits and Living with Epilepsy

When Andrew’s doctor suggested he might have epilepsy, he was in shock. He had experienced 2 seizures over the previous year, but they were relatively minor, and he thought that maybe he had simply fainted due to sleep deprivation or dehydration. He was a healthy, career-focused 35-year-old who had never had serious medical concerns. Out of curiosity, he had poked around online, and found that epilepsy is most commonly diagnosed in people under 20 and people over 65, as well as those who have experienced childhood infections, accidents, and strokes. He didn’t fit that description.

Andrew’s doctor knew that diagnosing epilepsy could be complicated and time-consuming, so she started getting the ball rolling as soon as possible. After taking a full medical history, she recorded as much information as Andrew and his girlfriend could remember about his environment before the fainting occurred, his actions during the potential seizures, and how he felt afterwards. Two weeks after his appointment, he experienced a third seizure. He went in for an MRI scan and was diagnosed with epilepsy shortly after.

While there is no cure for epilepsy, there are treatments called anti-epileptic drugs, which aim to stop seizures from happening. They are effective for approximately 70% of patients. Andrew was not part of that majority. He had an allergy to anti-epileptic drugs.

Things became increasingly difficult for Andrew. Alternative treatments are extremely difficult to find, have high risks, and are not always effective. Options include surgery involving removing the part of their brain that causes the seizures, as well as Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) therapy which uses a special device implanted in the chest that sends regular electrical signals to their brain through the vagus nerve.

Since being diagnosed, Andrew has tested many avenues including a regimented vitamin plan, herbal treatments, dietary changes and acupuncture. While he has not been successful in preventing seizures, he continues to find ways of coping, and is considering surgery. Being unable to treat his epilepsy with success has made it difficult for Andrew to hold regular work, and take part in everyday tasks. He cannot drive, and it is important that he spends little time alone in case of emergency. Luckily, he has a strong support system of family and friends in place. Andrew applied for EI sickness for 15 weeks and then he applied for his Long term disability benefits.  At first the insurance company gave him a hard time, but when he submitted all of the new medical information including his MRI results they approved the claim. Right now they are paying him, but he worries if one day they cut him off. How will he manage?

At Share lawyers, we can help ease the burden. By partnering with you, we make sure that your health and well-being are your top priority.


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