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Information is available at: Epilepsy Foundation or by contacting the Foundation’s Programs and Resources Department at 1.800.332.1000.____________________________________________________________________________________________¹ Under the ADA, which prohibits employers with 15 or more employees from discriminating against persons with disabilities, including epilepsy, employers are permitted to seek information and to refer an employee for physical examinations to confirm that the individual has a covered disability and is able to safely and efficiently perform the job. In addition to the seizures you experience, the medications required for managing your condition can also affect your physical capacity to perform your job. It will be particularly helpful to provide suggestions on specific types of reasonable accommodation(s) that could be devised to enable the individual to successfully perform the job duties. Side effects that can diminish your physical capacity include dizziness, vision issues, edema, fatigue, sleepiness, and balance problems. Second, in order to support the conclusion that the individual is qualified for the position, the physician should be informed of the specific job duties involved and provide a detailed opinion on the extent to which the patient can safely perform those duties. Q. Example 2: A middle-aged hospital accountant with complex partial seizures – she wishes to return to work after having a seizure on the job. The more frequently you experience seizures, the less likely it will be that you’re able to continue to work. In November 2008, a seizure caused her to fall, resulting in a head wound that required staples. Do they lose consciousness, and how does this affect them? People who experience epilepsy have recurrent seizures due to the condition. Almost all moving machinery has guards or can be modified for safety. If You Have Arthritis, Can You Qualify for SSDI Benefits? History of work-related injuries shoudl be considered, if relevant, C. Reassurance of workplace safety and worker reliability based on medical literature. It is an advertising service paid for by the lawyers and advocates whose names are provided in response to user requests and it is not an attorney referral service. Often standardized forms have not been designed for people with paroxysmal disorders such as epilepsy. The main symptom that affects your physical capacity to perform your standard job duties is the occurrence of seizure episodes. Find out the attorney or advocate in your area who is responsible for the advertisement, click here. 5. If you do not plan to stop working, this site cannot assist you because you will not qualify for the program. How Long Does it Take to Be Approved for Disability Benefits? This article (Cornaggia) may be helpful to send along with your letter. Difficulties getting back to work or study, give yourself time to recover. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has two forms of epilepsy listed among its conditions that potentially cause disability: convulsive epilepsy and non-convulsive epilepsy. 2. For information on these resources and others that can assist with obtaining and retaining employment, patients may be referred to the Epilepsy Foundation’s Career Support Center, a free informational online tool that assists individuals with epilepsy in their employment searches. In this case, it will be important to be able to counter the potentially conclusory opinion of that physician with an authoritative and carefully considered opinion that only the treating physician can provide. Physicians are in the unique position of being able to advocate for appropriate employment opportunities based on medical evidence. August is Spinal Muscular Atrophy Awareness Month. Records from your medical doctor must also include documentation of the side effects you experience from your medications. Some people recover immediately while others may take minutes to hours to feel like their usual self. Unless the form allows you to accurately depict your patient’s condition and capacity for employment, it is often preferable to leave portions of the form incomplete, attaching a letter that fully explains the situation. Detailed information should be provided on reasonable precautions that can be taken to avoid harm in the event a seizure occurs (such as providing rubber matting on floors to cushion falls and protective guards around machinery) and on avoiding seizure precipitants such as sleep deprivation. My client rightfully was concerned whether it had an obligation to return him to work with little more than a conclusory prescription pad note stating, “Johnny can return to work … 6. Drivers who are seizure-free and off anticonvulsant medication(s) for at least 5 years after a single unprovoked seizure can be certified. Example 3: A police officer returning to active duty after presenting with several complex partial seizures over a short period of time. I’m just a physician. The seisure is diffrent than ones previously experienced. Carefully read any paperwork you are given after a medical visit, especially if your doctor is part of the workers’ comp insurance company’s network. ... Seizures that begin after the age of 25 are usually secondary to some form of organic brain disease. Earlier return to work may be considered for drivers with a normal EEG who have no epileptic-form activity and normal examination by a neurologist specializing in epilepsy. Even after a seizure episode subsides, you may have other post-seizure, physical symptoms, like high blood pressure, nausea, headaches and drowsiness. The following information will be helpful to include when filling out forms or writing letters: iii. The type of seizures you have and how often they occur; Time of day seizures typically occur; Whether the seizures are controlled by medication; The potential risks if a seizure happens in the workplace. 2-3 days and I feel about 100%. This information may help establish that an individual has a disability covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and therefore is protected from discrimination.1. Drivers who are seizure-free and off anticonvulsant medication(s) for at least 5 years after a single unprovoked seizure can be certified. Another seizure starts before the person has fully returned to a state of awareness, after a previous seizure. My patient’s employer requires that I complete a form assessing his/her suitability for employment. In writing a letter for my patient is there anything that I should NOT say. How long do they need to recover from a seizure? Often workplace safety can be improved with relatively modest accommodations on the part of the employer. The main symptom that affects your physical capacity to perform your standard job duties is the occurrence of seizure episodes. In fact, accidents caused by epilepsy more often than average involve only the driver’s vehicle, result in less serious injury, and occur in less populated areas(9). If you’ve experienced two or more seizures in your life, then you have a seizure disorder. Copyright Disability-Benefits-Help.org 2020. A. What can be done to optimize my patient’s safety after s/he starts work?Q. Thank you for your letter of October 15, 1999, a follow up letter to your original letter of July 26, 1999, requesting OSHA's interpretation of 29 CFR 1904, Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses, as it applies to an injury due to an epileptic seizure at work. A. What questions will the SSA ask regarding my case? For instance, work which involve heights, water, heavy or unguarded machinery, firearms or driving has a … Drivers who have had one unprovoked seizure by definition do not have epilepsy (2 or more unprovoked seizures). If you’re among those who continue to struggle with seizures even with consistent medical care and prescribed use of anti-seizure medications, then your condition may prevent you from continuing to work. (Cornaggia). Status epilepticus (SE) is a medical emergency that starts when a seizure hits the 5-minute mark (or if there’s more than one seizure within 5 minutes). Q. 2) Use of the classic "should be barred from working with moving machinery". related to seizures or epilepsy is not very well substantiated and probably fairly small. You have a higher risk for another seizure within the next 2 years. What type of medical information will employers wish to receive?Q. about 20-30 minutes to know what happened and then around 1-2 hours to be able to stand a take a few steps. A. Today it is unusual if machinery has not already had such a guard system installed. Broad statements are likely to be interpreted too conservatively, often without consideration of accommodations. First, if appropriate, based on the type of medical inquiry raised by the employer, the physician should confirm that the patient does indeed have epilepsy, and describe the seizure type(s), their frequency and impact on the patient’s functioning (with and without the use of anti-seizure medication). Please consult your doctor or other health professional for advice regarding your epilepsy. How can I help my patients?Q. How can I speak to my patient’s risk for having workplace accident which may harm him or others?Q. Q. I’m just a physician. One of the skills that sets Lori apart is her extensive training and certification in concussion management. As amended, the ADA covers all impairments that limit major bodily functions, including neurological functioning, even if the condition is controlled by medication and/or is episodic. 1. There are two primary categories of seizures: epileptic and non-epileptic. currently receive Social Security benefits? What type of medical information will employers wish to receive? In writing a letter for my patient is there anything that I should NOT say? How to Qualify For SSD With Cancer Infographic, May is National Arthritis Awareness Month. If, after returning from her telework accommodation, the employee later requests another accommodation related to her seizures (such as a shift change) and the need for accommodation is not obvious, the employer may ask for documentation explaining why the new accommodation is needed, but may not ask for documentation establishing that she has epilepsy. Fill out the form on this site for a free evaluation of your disability claim. wishes to return to work after having a seizure on the job. There are, however; few Q. She resumed her duties. Whether the workplace is unionized, in which case the rights of an employer to take actions, such as to reassign employees or place employees on leave, may be addressed in the collective bargaining agreement. (This answer from the FMCSA website) Pay attention to your doctor’s orders. Neither this site nor any lawyer or advocate associated with it is affiliated in any way with or endorsed by the Social Security Administration. Either can be potentially disabling, preventing you from working. What are their seizures like, how often do they happen and how do they affect them? Tongue bites and cheek bites last much longer though : Seizure episodes certainly affect your mental capacity, not only during the episode, but for a period of time following the seizure as well. Requests to work from home; A private, quiet area to rest after having a seizure; A mat, carpet or soft area to cushion a fall; Ability to seek medical treatment, or time to adjust to medication during the workday; and, Ability to bring a service animal to work. During a seizure, you may experience loss of consciousness, uncontrolled shaking, or may appear temporarily catatonic – freezing in place and being unaware of anything that is happening around you. You may be confused and unresponsive for some time following each seizure you experience. I can't afford health insurance now. My patient’s employer requires that I complete a form assessing his/her suitability for employment. How often you have seizures and the severity of the side effects you have from your medications may both result in you being unable to work due to your seizure disorder. How should I respond?Q. Fact sheets: What is epilepsy? Q. Why do I need to know about workplace issues for my patients with epilepsy? In general (although court rulings may vary somewhat based on differences in state law), a physician would have no liability based on harm to the patient, co-workers or the public (caused by workplace accidents or other mishaps related to the patient’s epilepsy or treatment), providing the physician gives the patient and the employer accurate information concerning the patient’s epilepsy and related matters such as potential medication side effects. What type of epilepsy do they have? Substantial medical documentation is required no matter which way your application may be approved. Returning to Work After a Concussion Lori Mercer is an Occupational Therapist who has been working with InMotion Health Centre since 2013. A. By submitting a free evaluation, I acknowledge that I understand and agree to the disclaimer and privacy policy. that would eliminate the risk, if any, or reduce it to an acceptable level. It varies from three months to a year, depending on the laws in your state. I've been 'in the closet' since I was 20 about my epilepsy. Q. A seizure is a burst of electrical activity in your brain. Based on these provisions, it is clear that persons with epilepsy are covered under the ADA in virtually all cases. These fact sheets contain information and activities on epilepsy. If your doctor has diagnosed you as having a seizure disorder, states will require that you are treated for that condition with medication designed to prevent seizures and that your seizures are under … The best available evidence about an individual’s medical suitability for a job typically comes from his or her treating physician in the form of a detailed opinion letter. Anti-seizure medications also cause side effects that can affect your mental capacity to perform your everyday job duties. The Equality Act 2010 stipulates that employers have to make reasonable adjustments to help an individual with epilepsy enter into/continue to work by ensuring that the individual isn't at a disadvantage compared to someone without epilepsy. By requesting a free evaluation, the user will be provided with the name of an independent lawyer or advocate who will contact the user to do the evaluation. For example, machine operators, truck drivers, or others who control or operate vehicles or machinery as their core job responsibility cannot continue to work if their seizure disorder is uncontrolled. I have always taken 2 days off work after I have one. After head trauma, drugs and alcohol greatly increase the likelihood of having a seizure. Physicians play a critical role in helping ensure that their patients with epilepsy are fairly considered for employment opportunities. Can I Continue Working with a Seizure Disorder? Furthermore, people with epilepsy who manage to gain employment, tend to earn less than people who do not have epilepsy. Do they have any warning before a seizure (sometimes called an aura)? You may find that you’ve been released to return to work on paper, even if … That documentation must not only including physician notes and statements that record and report the frequency and severity of the seizures you experience, but also the pre and post-seizure symptoms you have. The letter should highlight the individual’s ability to perform the essential functions of the job, rather than focusing on his or her limitations. If someone’s epilepsy is controlled (they don’t have seizures) they are unlikely to need more time off work than other employees. Q. How Severe Does my Arthritis Need to be to Qualify? As the seizure ends, the postictal phase occurs - this is the recovery period after the seizure. What does “ambulate effectively” mean in the Blue Book? I understand medicine, not employment law and vocational rehabilitation. Do you have examples of successful advocacy letters? Such an assessment must be based on a reasonable medical judgment that relies on the most reliable and objective evidence available. Seizure times of occurrence (if applicable), vi. Physician advocacy in the form of employer education on epilepsy generally can also be helpful. Thankfully, the employee did not go through with it, but after a short leave of absence, he claimed he was ready to return to work. Frequently, employers will attempt to base their determination on the opinion of an occupational physician retained on a contract basis, even if that physician has limited expertise in the relevant area of medicine and/or knowledge about the individual’s medical history. How can I speak to my patient’s risk for having workplace accident which may harm him or others? I'm 56 now. Do you have examples of successful advocacy letters?Q. Speech problems, memory issues, concentration difficulties, and pronounced nervousness can all be among the medication side effects that diminish your ability to effectively maintain gainful employment. Ability to Work and Social Security Disability, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), How to Apply for Social Security Disability. The person has thrown up and may have breathed in some vomit. This is an Attorney Advertisement – Not an Attorney Referral Service Calls may be auto-dialed/pre-recorded. How can I help my patients? I blackout for about 5-10 minutes sometimes longer. Am I legally responsible if my patient is injured at work? Importantly, the ADA requires that, prior to denying a job opportunity to an employee or applicant with epilepsy (or another disability) based on safety or health risks, the employer must conduct an individualized assessment of the person’s ability to safely perform the essential functions of the job. An Upstate pizza delivery driver is thanking two men who saved her after she had a seizure and crashed into a pond. You’ve had seizures that don’t affect your consciousness or driving You may still qualify for a licence if these are the only type of seizure you’ve ever had and the first one was 12 months ago. While on leave, Olsen consulted a neurologist, who gave her a letter approving her return to work. Copyright © 2020, American Epilepsy Society, Epilepsy Fellowship In-service Training Examination (EpiFITE), Research + Training Fellowships for Clinicians, EF Clinical Research Apprenticeship [PDF], ILAE/AES Translational Research Task Force, FAES: Fellow of the American Epilepsy Society. This is especially true for anyone who works in a job in which a seizure would pose a safety or security risk. In this way, the letter can help counter any stereotyped views about epilepsy that the employer may have. For those with active seizure disorders, it may be as high as 50%. While individual factors should be taken into consideration, recent studies suggest that people who have occasional seizures are at very low risk for workplace accidents or absenteeism. After disclosing to a doctor that I had epilepsy years ago. If they still have seizures, the need for time off work might depend on the type of seizures they have and the time they need to recover. Do they have seizures? This is especially true for anyone who works in a job in which a seizure would pose a safety or security risk. What Is an On-the-record Decision and How Do I Request One? A. With modern understanding of epilepsy and the greater number of more effective medications, most who suffer from seizure disorders are able to keep their condition relatively under control. Q. Congress amended the ADA, effective January 1, 2009, to make it considerably easier for an individual to show that he or she has a disability and therefore is protected from discrimination under the law. Example 1: A middle-aged man who was trained as an aircraft inspector and is having 1-2 partial complex seizures annually with a new medication. The type of work you are expected to perform everyday affects whether or not you’re able to maintain employment even when you experience pronounced side effects from your anti-seizure medications. The person does not have a medical ID bracelet (instructions explaining what to do). You may also suffer from mental sluggishness and other cognitive symptoms for as long as a couple of days following each seizure. Contributor: Paul A. Garcia, MDReviewed: Patricia O. Shafer RN, MNAugust 31, 2013. Being found eligible for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits with a seizure disorder can be difficult. 3. Extent to which seizures are controlled with medication or other measures, vii. A. What causes a seizure? The person does not wake up or have normal behavior after a seizure.  This is very dangerous because if you’ve been drinking or taking other drugs you may be more likely to vomit during the seizure and you will not have adequate control over your gag and cough reflexes This can lead to aspirating (inhaling) stomach contents into the lungs which can be fatal. Patients may also benefit from the services of vocational rehabilitation specialists, who can assess their suitability for job opportunities and provide technical assistance to the patient and employers. Why do I need to know about workplace issues for my patients with epilepsy?Q. Seizures result from the misfiring of electrical impulses in the brain and result in the temporary disruption of normal brain functions. Example 3: A police officer returning to active duty after presenting with several complex partial seizures over a short period of time. 4. The more frequently you experience seizures, the less likely it will be that you’re able to continue to work. After she suffered more seizures on the job, CRMC placed Olsen on paid administrative leave in August 2008. Q. A seizure may start in one part of your brain, or both sides may be affected. Though non-epileptic seizures may also be recurrent, those who suffer from them don’t technically have a seizure disorder, but instead have another condition with seizures as a symptom. Your application for SSD benefits must meet the documentation requirements for one of these two listings, or your medical documentation and other details of your application must satisfy the requirements for a “medical vocational allowance” in order for you to be approved for benefits. Disability-Benefits-Help.org is not a lawyer or law firm. The person had a seizure in water. How should I respond? The person doesn’t “come to” or isn’t breathing after the seizure ends. Physician's Guide - Responding to Work Site Safety IssuesThis Web site module is designed specifically for the physician in order to present a template and examples of responses to employers about workplace safety issues. By submitting above, I agree to the privacy policy and disclaimer and consent to be contacted by an agent via phone call or text message at the phone number(s) listed above, including wireless number(s). The duration of the monitoring is to be assessed on a case-by-case basis at the discretion of the treating neurologist. Example 4: A young man with generalized tonic-clonic seizures desires to return to a banking/mail room position. I've fasioned my entire life around keeping my epilepsy a secret. Return to Work. Common mistakes that may unintentionally hinder your patient’s application include: 1) Use of vague terminology such as "should avoid activities that would put himself or others at risk". A new-onset seizure is a seizure that happens for the first time. What can be done to optimize my patient’s safety after s/he starts work? Returning to work after brain injury. The unemployment rate for people with epilepsy is two to three times that of the general population. They can be downloaded and used for educational purposes. Q. The person is pregnant, injured, or has diabetes. Prior to the amendment, persons with epilepsy and other disabilities generally were not covered if their conditions were controlled with medication or other measures (e.g., prosthetic devices). Not all patients benefit from contemporary seizure medications and other treatments though. You may also wish to consider seeking the help of a Social Security attorney or advocate to help increase your chances of being approved for SSD benefits. Consent is not required to utilize our services. Can Social Security Disability Insurance/Supplemental Security Income benefits be payed retroactively? Do they need an ambulance to be called and is there someone who can do this for them? 3) Suggesting limits that can easily be dealt with through accommodations such as "should be barred from heights" (there are all kinds of safety belts and attachments readily available) or "should avoid work on concrete floors" (rubber matting and other modifications can be very effective). Does the applicant plan to stop working soon and stay out of work for at least 12 months? A. Non-epileptic seizures, on the other hand, are the result of another medical condition. Returning to the workplace is a big decision after you’ve experienced a stroke. Epilepsy and its impact on your working life Epilepsy is currently defined as a tendency to have recurrent seizures (sometimes called fits) and it affects approximately 1 in 100 people. Accommodations that you believe would minimize risks to safety resulting from seizures on this job (e.g., permitting work on a day shift, rather than at night, to minimize sleep disruption that may trigger seizures), viii. After making a degree of recovery from brain injury, you may feel that you are ready to return to work. You can ask your doctor for a medical certificate for the recovery period if you need one ; Concerns about repeat seizures or are having a difficult recovery period, ask a family member or trusted friend to check in on you while you recover. I feel I'd never work again if I disclosed I was epilepic. A seizure is caused by a sudden burst of excess electrical activity in the brain, causing a temporary disruption in the normal message passing between brain cells. In writing a letter for my patient is there anything that I should NOT say? Am I legally responsible if my patient is injured at work?Q. However, the effects of brain injury can bring many changes to different aspects of life, including employment. Remember that each is specific to the individual patient’s medical condition. The seizure may last a few seconds or up to 5 minutes. After returning to work: Annual review by a neurologist with submission of a written report. A federally-funded resource for determining accommodation options, the Department of Labor's Job Accommodation Network (JAN), is available by calling 1-800-ADA-WORK (232-9675) or by email. The employer must determine, with the input of the applicant or employee (and/or his or her health car provider), whether there may be any type of reasonable accommodation (a change in the way the job is performed, etc.) Consider using these resources to help focus your thoughts and actions. Example 5: A young man with nocturnal partial complex seizures in remission seeks a job as a commercial driver. To qualify for Social Security disability, you must expect to be disabled for at least 12 months. Yes, below are some examples of letters that have helped to get people with epilepsy back to appropriate employment. For more information, see JAN’s website and their resources concerning accommodations for persons with epilepsy. Or even obtaining or keeping your drivers license. A. Work restrictions for sudden incapacitation restrict functional work activities that may affect the health and safety of the worker Work restrictions for an unacceptable risk for seizures may include a “minimum waiting period” before returning to work. A. To ensure your application meets eligibility requirements, you’ll need to work closely with your primary care doctor. Epilepsy May Occur Again After Surgery The courage to have epilepsy surgery is usually rewarded by a lifetime without seizures, but epilepsy may return … Q. expect to be out of work for at least 12 months? Example 4: A young man with generalized tonic-clonic seizures desires to return to a banking/mail room position. He was inappropriately screened out by the occupational medicine service adn the following letter resulted in his reinstatement. There are certain jobs that may be unsuitable for people who suffer with uncontrolled seizures, however, including working: Regardless, Jeff added that there are steps almost any employer can take to address safety concerns after an employee has a seizure at work. I understand medicine, not employment law and vocational rehabilitation.

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