Is Sleep Apnea a Disability?

Is Sleep Apnea a Disability?

Is sleep apnea a disability?

Sometimes the guidelines regarding whether you qualify for SSI or SSDI can be confusing.

Some disabilities, Sleep Apnea, for instance, are not always straight to the point.

Is Sleep Apnea a Disability?

Sleep Apnea happens to be one of those disabilities that can fall into different categories.  In particular, the aspects surrounding severity and cause.  Either or both of these could be relevant to your disability case, even minus the apnea.

Sleep apnea is a disorder that causes momentary loss of your ability to breathe properly or to use respiratory muscles while you are asleep. This can happen from ten to thirty seconds at a time and can happen many times throughout the night. 

Sleep apnea often causes those who suffer from it to lose countless hours of sleep and wake in the morning still feeling tired. This may seem minor; however, can cause serious hazards if it goes undiagnosed. Not only will sleep apnea affect your mood, memory, and alertness, but you are also at greater risk of falling asleep at awkward or even dangerous times, such as while in conversation or while driving.

Moreover, chronic sleep apnea is often a contributing factor to high blood pressure, heart attacks, stroke, and heart disease.

There are two types of sleep apnea:

Obstructive: When your airways are being blocked. Airways can be blocked when the body is relaxed by your throat muscles, tongue, tonsils, uvula or fatty tissue.

Central: This is a more rare form of sleep apnea and is caused by the central nervous system and when the proper signals aren’t sent from your brain to the muscles in control of your breathing.

How Will I Know if My Sleep Apnea Qualifies?

When you apply for social security, your disability will be evaluated under a five-step process to determine if you are eligible or not. An examiner will work with a physician and at the hearing, a decision will be made.

  1. The first step is to meet the nonmedical thresholds.  You cannot even be considered to receive benefits if you do not meet these criteria. Basically, if you make more than a certain amount of money in employed work, you will not be approved.
  2. Second, the SSA via a medical professional will determine if your sleep apnea is considered severe, or otherwise detrimental to your ability to do employment type activity. Your attorney can help with this part as you may need to gather all medical evidence as well as fill out any questionnaires
  3. Third, your sleep apnea will be evaluated to see if you land under social security’s “listing of impairments”. There are fourteen separate categories, and sleeping disorders typically land in the third “respiratory system impairments.”
  4. Fourth your work history will be looked into, and it will be determined if you can perform at any of your previous jobs.
  5. Finally, your age, work experience, and education will be considered to see if any other jobs would be available to you.

In Brief Summary..

Is sleep apnea a disability? Technically yes, but how it affects you on a day to day basis is every bit as important (perhaps more so) than the diagnosis in the first place.  

If you believe you have sleep apnea, or you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea and are applying for Social Security disability benefits, contact us for help today. 

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