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Sleep Apnea and Disability

Can I get Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income for Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea causes a reduction of airflow during sleep. It is common in adults and generally treated through either surgical or nonsurgical means. The most common symptoms of sleep apnea are a break or loss of airflow which causes the sleeper to stop breathing, sometimes for as long as ten seconds.

The lack of oxygen, blood and breathing during sleep can lead to severe health issues. Resulting conditions can include high blood pressure, mood disorders, sleep, daytime drowsiness, anxiety, insomnia and headaches. Sleep apnea, if left untreated, can also lead to chronic heart failure.

How severe does my sleep apnea have to be to get SSD Benefits?

What does it mean to be disabled according to the Social Security Administration? Claimants must prove that they have a condition which is so severe that it does not allow the claimant to work for at least 12 continuous months.

Sleep apnea, although it can be severe, generally on its own does not qualify for disability benefits. What can happen, however, is claimants who have sleep apnea may also have other severe conditions, which in their totality may not allow them to maintain employment and perform what the Social Security Administration considers substantial gainful activity.

What conditions may help me qualify for disability benefits?

Claimants who have sleep apnea should also consider whether they may have additional conditions that contribute to their inability to work. For instance, does the claimant have hypertension, fibromyalgia, diabetes, mental conditions or chronic heart failure? These conditions, in addition to the sleep apnea, may be enough to convince the Social Security Administration that the claimant does not have the residual capacity to work.

Are you seeking the proper treatment for your sleep apnea?

Claimants must also get proper medical treatment for their condition. It will not be enough to claim that you do not have medical insurance or money to pay for a doctor. Claimants who have not been seeing a doctor or who have not followed the doctor’s treatment plan will not qualify for disability benefits. If a claimant does not follow the doctor’s treatment plan the Social Security Administration can very easily argue that if they were, they may be able to work.

Claimants who have sleep apnea must prove that they have tried the various methods of treatment, but these treatments have failed to cure their condition. Claimants need to have tried non-surgical options such as muscle relaxants, specialty sleep pillows, devices which help a sleeper avoid sleeping on their backs and weight loss (considered one of the most successful treatments for overweight claimants who have sleep apnea). Other more advanced treatment options may also need to be attempted including a CPAP, BIPAP, APAP or VPAP machines.

Hiring a Disability Lawyer

Claimants with severe sleep apnea, which has not improved after medical treatment, combined with other severe health conditions may be able to prove that they do not have the ability to work.


Claimants who do not understand what needs to be included on their Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance application should talk to a disability lawyer for more information.
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