Changes to Social Security's Disability Listings for Epilepsy, Multiple Sclerosis, and Other Neurological Disorders

Social Security has updated its disability listings for neurological disorders for the first time in 30 years and the changes are significant. Here are some of the highlights:

  • The criterion found in many of the neurological listings that requires “disorganization of motor function in two extremities” to meet a listing has been modified. It can now be fulfilled by the inability to stand up from a seated position. (This is defined as being unable to stand and maintain an upright position without the risk of falling unless the person has the assistance of another person or the use of an assistive device, such as a walker, two crutches, or two canes.) It can also be fulfilled by the inability to use the upper extremities or maintain balance while standing or walking (these criteria used to be referred to as “a sustained disturbance of gross and dexterous movements or gait and station”).
  • The criterion found in each neurological listing that called for a limitation in “social functioning” has been changed to a limitation in “interacting with others.”
  • The two listings for epilepsy have been combined and seem to require that seizures occur on a more regular basis. The requirement for SSA to obtain blood drug levels to determine compliance with prescribed treatment in epilepsy has been removed.
  • The criterion that called for a drop in I.Q .score has been removed from all neurological listings. (The listings for cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, and multiple sclerosis used to include this criterion.)

The next edition of our book Nolo's Guide to Social Security Disability: Getting & Keeping Your Benefits will explain these changes in detail and the articles on Nolo’s website on Social Security’s neurological listings are being updated.