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Old 01-10-2011, 05:58 PM
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Seizure Disorder as a Disability?


Hello all!

I have a question I was hoping I could get some "peer" feedback on. I am currently looking into a career change and one of the places near me that does a lot of hiring is a Federal Agency near me. I have been having problems getting an application in because a lot of their postings are internal or to fed employees and veterans.

So here is where I am looking for some feedback. I have spoken to the HR office about ways to get applications in, in an e-mail I was asked if I have any disabilities or am a Veteran. The latter I am not. As for disabilities I did mention I have a seizure disorder, the HR manager said that I could qualify for Schedule A Employment if my Neurologist wrote me a letter stating I have a disability. Essentially this would allow me to post for positions not available to the public (similar to how Veterans can post for federal jobs)

My dilemma is this, my seizure disorder has never interfered with my ability to work in the past, nor do I expect it to cause any problems with the fields I am looking to go into. I have been seizure free for over a year, and haven't had a seizure while awake in over 2.

I feel as though I may be taking advantage of my disorder to use it as a disability. Also I don't know if this may end up coming back on me negatively.

Has anyone else come across this dilemma? Would a seizure disorder be considered a disability?

Thanks!

Last edited by VR4Legacy; 01-11-2011 at 08:44 AM.
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Old 01-10-2011, 09:41 PM
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I had my last job for over ten years. After my seizures started up again I continued to work until I had them at the train station on the train and at the work place. I could no longer take chances and ended up on disability. I you can get hurt in anyway then you too should be on disability and no work place should hire you.

Last edited by KARDSHARQUE; 01-11-2011 at 08:58 AM.
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Old 01-11-2011, 08:42 AM
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While I appreciate your feedback, that was not what I was getting at. I feel anyone can get hurt at anytime, even without any prior condition. We can't live our lives in fear of what may happen and be held captive in case we may have a seizure, especially if they are controlled. That would be no different from someone with a heart condition saying "I may have a heart attack so I shouldn't go out" or someone afraid to drive saying "my car may blow a tire causing me to wreck and get into an accident, so I better not drive". Both instances are possible, but can be minimized with proper attention, just as my seizure disorder.

I do understand there are different severities of seizure disorders, I fall in the more minor, as mine are controllable and detectable to myself. Just as I would pull over if I felt my car pulling to check the tire pressure, I too would change my daily behavior if I started to feel the precursors to my seizures.

I take care to make sure I stay on my medication regularly and don't deprive myself of sleep. If I have an off day and don't feel right, I won't drive (although it has been a couple years since then) However I don't think it is right to say no workplace should hire me.

My question was geared more towards my own ethical dilemma as to whether or not my particular seizure order could be considered a disability, and if so, should I use it as an advantage to get my foot in the door with a federal job. I don't feel I would get any special consideration (as I shouldn't) because the fact that I have a disability would not be disclosed to any hiring managers, only HR to allow me post for jobs not open to the public, but available under special hiring authority.

I was also concerned about any negative consequences I may face by using my seizures as a disability. I have always disclosed my seizure disorder once hired and placed in a workplace, as I feel my workmates and supervisors need to be aware of what to do should I have a seizure.
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Old 01-11-2011, 08:51 AM
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Hi, VR4,

What a dilemma. Especially in this economy. I go through some of the same kinds of thoughts when sometimes I use disabled parking. But on days when I'm so tired I can hardly move and my head hurts so bad I want someone to just lop it off, yep, I use that parking. The rest of the time, no, unless my back has gone out again and I can't walk unless I'm hunched over with my elbows almost to my knees.

Anyway.... I think you need to use your best judgement. The ADA defines a disability as:

Quote :
“The term ‘disability’ means, with respect to an individual –
(a) a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of such individual;
(b) a record of such impairment; or
(c) being regarded as having such an impairment.” (P.L. 101-336, Sec. )
If you fit that description, you are disabled. If you don't, you aren't. It isn't always black and white. There are degrees. But the ADA distinguish between severity or type of disability.

Hope that helps.
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Old 01-11-2011, 09:00 AM
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Hey VR4Legacy,

I think you already know the answer. You don't consider your seizure disorder a disability, so it feels sneaky to use it to get a job. It's a bit like being given handicapped plates and parking in a handicapped spot when you're able-bodied. Consider this: Can you live with feeling sneaky? Do the ends justify the means? Would you be taking someone else's place?

Opportunities are not obligations -- this is an opportunity, absolutely -- but you are not obligated to take it.
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Old 01-11-2011, 09:02 AM
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If that's the case then when applying for a job you do not BY LAW have to tell anyone about your condition. Move on.
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Old 01-11-2011, 08:41 PM
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I would agree, Kardsharque, you don't have to tell anyone about your seizure disorder, as long as it is under control I would add. When I had a recurrence of my seizures while working at my old job I did feel obligated to inform HR about it and also let my supervisor know, especially when I had to file an ADA accomodation claim in order to allow me time off if I had a seizure. It did come back to bite me bad though. HR had told me that the ADA claim would be in a file separate than my regular file, but when I applied for a promotion later on the manager from another center happened to ask me about my seizures. Then it turned out that they hired someone with no experience whatsoever over me. It can be a tough decision to make, even though it is not supposed to make any difference, the companies will many times figure out a different reason not to hire you or promote you.
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Old 01-12-2011, 08:18 AM
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Thank you everyone for the feedback and advice.

Kardsharque, I am not concerned with whether I HAVE to tell HR, the question is should I use it to help get a foot in.

s10, thank you for your input, something like that is in the back of my mind, as you said, they will never admit it was the seizure disorder that kept the promotion. I have worked in corporate atmosphere long enough to know there are several ways to write someone off while skirting the law.

Nakamova - I think you hit the nail on the head. After a little more soul searching, I think you are right. If I have to ask "is this right" then I obviously have some self doubt. As I mentioned, I don't feel my disorder holds me back from any functions pertaining to my job. I'll never be a long haul driver or airplane pilot, but I can easily work in a retail or office environment with out any trouble.

Thank you everyone again for your feedback.
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Old 01-12-2011, 08:16 PM
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Let me just say this...

My husband is a Fed Employee and I personally have filled out and submitted a number of fed and state gov job apps and they do consider a seizure disorder a disability. They do not ask you if you have been deemed disabled or are receiving benefits; only if you are disabled and if your disablility falls into a specific category, one of which is seizure disorders. It does put you into a different hiring category and gives you a slight preference over someone who is not a veteran, not retired military, and not already a govt emp. Frankly, I wouldn't feel as if I were depriving anyone of a job if I were you, considering just how minimal that hiring preference is. You are in competition with vets, ret. military and other fed employees so it isn't like someone is just going to hand you a job. You have to just keep plugging away and also be willing to go in for a little less then what you might have originally wanted, its the whole "foot in the door" concept. Once you are in the system nd get all of you requirements done then you can start working your way up pretty quickly :-)
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Old 01-13-2011, 11:42 AM
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There is also a special government program where if you are disabled, you contact the hiring HR manager directly. It circumvents the whole selective process. That HR manager works to place you in a job. I looked into it, and most of the federal agencies in my region aren't hiring right now, they are downsizing. So this program isn't terribly helpful for me.
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Old 01-14-2011, 08:51 PM
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I don't know if I could get a job if I tried to. I'm on SS right now. I can't drive, have memory loss - long term and short term, and I don't know when I'm going to have a seizure. I also have problems dealing with people. I don't think I'd feel comfortable working because of those situations.

What type of job are you looking for? A desk job or something that envolves physical work? If you are working at a desk and have a seizure I don't think you could really hurt yourself or people around you, other than the fact that you could fall out of your chair or something like that.

If you were doing something with physical labor you could cause problems. You could fall into/onto something that might be dangerous or drop things that could harm you or others.

Also how bad are your seizures when you have them? Do you have grand mals or other types. This is also something else that I'd keep in mind when applying for a job.
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Old 01-15-2011, 12:03 PM
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It doesn't matter how badly I would like to work, how well I know the rules or the laws surrounding my disability, or howoften I have been turned down for a job. I can step outside the box and look at myself from a manager's viewpoint and KNOW I would not hire me and/ or I would not be pleased if I did. I have dealt with an employee who had seizures before and it was an unpleasant experience

Taking HIPPA into consideration I know that an employee does not have to disclose their illness until they have been hired and then I have to reasonably accomodate said illness. With a seizure disorder that guarantees the employee is not going to have to work around machinery, do assembly-line work or any form of driving...nothing where he can conceivably be a danger to him/herself or workmates. So I have to find some benign place to put them even though they may not be fully qualified (I've already hired them and that falls within reasonable accomodation, otherwise I can be nailed for discrimination within context of the law). I am going to have to pull someone to train them, I am going to have to make allowances for time off for seizure episodes at work, at home or other places, doctor's appt, etc., possible STD or LTD, etc. This amounts to loss in production time and profit and at the end of the day it IS all about profit otherwise it wouldnt be a business. Now, the ONE way to rectify this un-profitable situation is to start documenting the employee's performance upon learning of the illness. Does it seem fair, no. It is the only way to get around someone yelling discrimination though especially if you have fairly accomdated them in every other way. And trust me, HR documents everything so this doesn't happen. Now, you can beat them at this game by making yourself completely indespensable but that means your seizures are controlled and you don't use your illness as an excuse for anything or the company isn't bothered by it. That is a rarity though. I was told by my old workplace in the States that as long as I had seizures they would not hire me back. I understood this...as I said before, we hired someone with seizures before and I'm the one who fired him. He wouldn't come in until later in the day after he had a seizure. He was fired for repeatedly failing to call in sick half-day.

Also, there is an incentive to hire us. The government gives companies a tax credit for hiring disabled persons. Interesting isn't it?
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Old 01-15-2011, 02:23 PM
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So even if i'm not collecting disability officially, I still qualify? It can be a written verification from a doctor? A job I'm interested in says 'women and people with disabilities encouraged to apply'. I'll confess, I'm totally fine with being an affirmative action hire. I'm a great candidate for the job, besides.
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Old 01-15-2011, 05:37 PM
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I dont know if this pertains to you exactly, but maybe for people who are photosensitve, they could put films over flourecent lights, give you extra breaks anything like that...
At my old job i got a drs note saying i couldnt do anything involving high temp because it could provoke a seizure. I havent had a seizure ina long time, but i still might tell my new job about my E God forbid something does happen.
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Old 01-16-2011, 04:32 PM
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Ajax, it is still very possible to be considered disabled although you do not collect SSDI. If you are working or attempting to work this is also where the ADA act can come into place, in order to assist with things that may be needed, although it is a very tough situation, especially when first trying to get a job. Epilepsy is considered a disability according to Social Security and with businesses too. If they are able to accomodate you without it causing too much hardship then they are required to, but it requires and ADA accomodation request to be filled out by you and your doctor requesting the specific things needed. An example of this is that after I had my Neuropace RNS implant done, Neuropace did not want me to have a regular headset for the phones like most call centers use, so the company I worked for ordered me a phone set that worked like a small blue tooth. They also accomodated me with extra Time off if I had a seizure, but it was only to a certain extent.
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Old 01-16-2011, 07:04 PM
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In order to collect S.S.D.I. you have to have a note from your dr. stating that your seizures are not under control. If your dr. says your seizures are under control then you can not collect. I have been on it on two different occasions. I was not approved the first time each time I applied. However I wish I could work. I miss it so much.
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Old 01-16-2011, 11:08 PM
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I know exactly what you mean, Kardsharque. I am on SSDI myself since I lost my job back in June. I definitely prefer to work myself. I am going to see what I can do to start some kind of work from home for the time being, I don't care if it reduces my SSDI. Another thing that I do is that I am secretary for the local lodge here, but that is not a paying position. I do have to say, I was lucky myself with SSDI as I was approved the first time I applied and did not have to fight it at all, although Kansas Legal Services was ready to step up and help me at no cost.

SSDI definitely is not easy to live on at all though. Here in Kansas if you are on SSDI, you don't qualify for full medicaid and have a huge spend down until you receive medicare. Plus medicaid refuses to cover alot of meds and Dr. Appts. Life with a job is definitely much easier.
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Old 01-25-2011, 06:02 PM
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motorcycle tech, need dl for job, lost dl cause of epilepsy, lost job. there we go.
computere tech, cant stare at screen, there we go.
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Old 02-01-2011, 07:34 PM
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C0urt, I understand your position. When I first went to college it was for Auto tech. That only lasted a year due to having a seizure. Luckily though, I don't have many problems using computers.

Is it possible that a glare guard may help with the computer issues? I used to have troubles with computer screens if they were not flat screens, but when they got me a glare guard it helped out alot. Another thing that I discovered that helped a little was to turn the screen just a bit to prevent the flashes and glares from catching me right in the eyes. Not certain if these would help you, but it may be worth a try. Most companies are willing to provide glare guards as they are alot cheaper than having to find someone else that can do the job as that would require the cost of training the person. Best of luck to you on that.
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Old 02-04-2011, 12:49 PM
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I believe seizures should only be seen as a disability if they are disabling you from having a life. If they do not, I would not consider it a disability.
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