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Is Sleep Apnea A Disability For Social Security

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Is Sleep Apnea Considered A Disability

Sleep Apnea and Social Security Disability

Sleep apnea can certainly be considered a disabling condition, depending upon the type and severity of sleep apnea you have. Sleep apnea in general is a sleep disorder where breathing repeatedly starts and stops at night. There are three types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea which is the most common type, central sleep apnea and complex sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the muscles in your throat temporarily relax narrowing or blocking your airway, effectively cutting off your breathing for periods of time. Central sleep apnea occurs when your brain fails to send proper signals to the muscles that control your breathing. And complex sleep apnea is a combination of both obstructive and central sleep apnea.

If you find yourself struggling to work because of the symptoms related to sleep apnea, filing for social security disability is more than likely the right step for you. The social security disability program is a mandatory federal program set in place to assist injured workers in the event they are unable to work. Anyone who works and pays taxes on their income is required to pay taxes into this disability program. Disability insurance coverage is not automatic. To have this coverage you need to have paid taxes on your working income for the past five out of ten years. Assuming that is the case then you will be able to apply for disability benefits.

Applying For Disability Benefits For Sleep Apnea

When you apply for SSDI, the Social Security Administration will conduct an assessment of your residual functional capacity, or RFC. Your RFC details what you are capable of doing despite your impairment and is used to determine what kind of work you can do. It will include your doctors opinion of your capabilities and restrictions, including comments on how the sleep apnea affects your mental abilities. You should document any other health problems in your application. Your RFC considers ALL your disabilities.

If you have questions about your own situation, please contact the Boston SSDI attorneys at Keefe Disability Law at 888-904-6847.

Sleep Apnea And Long Term Disability Benefits

Some individuals with sleep apnea may qualify for long term disability benefits due to a reduced Residual Functional Capacity, or RFC.

You can quantify your RFC for the insurance company by asking your doctor to fill out an Attending Physician Statement form or RFC. The answers on an APS or RFC form will help establish that you are not able to work due to your sleep apnea, its symptoms, and the effects of those symptoms in your life.

For example, those who suffer from sleep apnea may show up to work more tired than other employees and will therefore have a higher risk of mistakes and incidents. This type of fatigue should be taken into consideration when filling out the form.

Sleep apnea could especially affect those who work in the transportation field, such as truck and bus drivers, as well as with train conductors and others who need to be alert to transport people and items safely.

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How Sleep Apnea Could Link To Military Service

There are a number of ways military service can lead to developing Sleep Apnea. It can also happen from routine injuries during the course of performing ones military duties. This can include: broken legs, ankles, back injuries, and the list goes on. The military is a very physically demanding work environment, and sometimes injuries happen.

Sleep Apnea in the workplace injuries can lead to a loss of mobility and activity, which can lead to a person developing risk factors for Sleep Apnea, such as weight gain due to decreased mobility. Its a VA requirement that a veteran demonstrates the disability claim for Sleep Apnea be the result of military service, so its important for the link to be demonstrated as part of the VA disability claim.

What Are Other Criteria Must I Meet For Disability Benefits

Pittsburgh Sleep Disorders Lawyers

For all types of physical and mental conditions, including sleep disorders, there are several general criteria you must meet to obtain disability benefits:

  • You must meet the SSAs definition of disabled, which means either having a listing-level condition , or having a low RFC that prevents you from engaging in substantial gainful activity or SGA. The SSA defines SGA as having an income over a certain threshold.
  • Your condition must have lasted or be expected to last a year or more or result in death.
  • You must meet either financial or work history requirements, depending on the disability program you are applying for:
  • Supplemental Security Income applicants must prove that their income and the value of their assets fall below a certain amount. For individuals, your income must be below $735 and you must have less than $2,000 in assets. Note, however, that the SSA excludes a good portion of your income and assets when determining if you qualify, so these figures are somewhat misleading at first glance.

    Social Security Disability Insurance applicants must have earned enough work credits by working and paying into the Social Security system. The number of credits needed depend on your age.

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    Look At Options With A Professional

    If you think your sleep apnea or its side effects are inhibiting your work, consult a physician to see if you qualify for disability due to an aspect of your disorder. They can help assess your residual functional capacity by monitoring your daytime sleepiness and oxygen levels. They can also provide ideas of how to restore your functionality through the addition of a CPAP machine, an Oral Appliance, or if surgery would be beneficial in your case. Usually, they have enough experience to also aid you by providing a diagnosis and reviewing your options for what to claim on a disability form. The professionals at the Michigan Head and Neck Institute have extensive experience diagnosing and treating sleep disorders and a consultation is the natural first step towards recovery or disability assistance.


    Most Applicants Will Find It Difficult To Qualify For Social Security Disability Benefits Automatically With A Diagnosis Of Sleep Apnea Unless They Can Prove Their Disability Is Related To Heart Failure Chronic Pulmonary Hypertension Or A Neurocognitive Disorder

    If you have sleep apnea, but your disability does not match one of Social Securitys impairment listings, you may still be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits if you have another impairment for example, high blood pressure or diabetes. Applicants often have more than one illness or injury that prevents them from working full time. By itself one disorder may not meet the requirements of an impairment as stated in Social Securitys Blue Book. However, if an applicant has multiple medical conditions, Social Security must consider how those health issues, combined together, limit an applicants ability to hold a job and perform necessary daily tasks. In any case, you must have an actual diagnosis confirmed by a polysomnogram and statements by medical providers detailing your capabilities and limitations. For example, because of sleepiness during the day, you may not be able to operate machinery. Social Security will also evaluate how your limitations affect your ability to work , taking into account whether or not you are able to drive, your age, and level of education. They will test your residual functional capacity which is a measure of how the disease affects your everyday job performance. The fatigue associated with sleep apnea, particularly chronic or severe sleep apnea, can lead to physical and cognitive impairment.

    The first category is the Work Requirements which has two tests.
    The second category is the Medical Eligibility Requirement.

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    Va Disability Ratings And Sleep Apnea

    To qualify for VA benefits for sleep apnea, veterans must first be diagnosed with the condition. This is typically done through a sleep study, either at a clinic or at your home. In addition, there must be evidence that this diagnosis either began during active military service or was made worse during service. In other words, there must be a current diagnosis, an onset, event or cause in service, and a link or nexus between those two.

    Even if Sleep Apnea did not specifically begin in service, other conditions may be related. For example, some studies have found a link between Post-traumatic stress disorder and sleep apnea. Other conditions may also be related, but ultimately, only a doctor can offer a medical opinion to link a separate service-connected condition with sleep apnea.

    An individual with sleep apnea may be eligible for VA benefits. Under the VA Ratings Schedule, a veteran with sleep apnea may be entitled to 0%, 30%, 50% or 100% benefits for sleep apnea, as follows:

    • 0% Sleep Apnea Rating: asymptomatic, but with documented sleep disorder breathing
    • 30% Sleep Apnea Rating: persistent daytime hypersomnolence
    • 50% Sleep Apnea Rating: requires use of breathing assistance device such as continuous airway pressure machine
    • 100% Sleep Apnea Rating: respiratory failure with carbon dioxide retention or cor pulmonale or requires tracheostomy.

    How Sleep Apnea Affects You

    Social Security Disability Claim Base On Sleep Apnea

    Sleep apnea is a disability in which breathing stops repeatedly during sleep. In a regular six to eight hour period of sleep, someone with sleep apnea will stop breathing for a period of time, possibly up to a minute. This is due to air passages becoming blocked, many times due to a collapse in tissue in the back of the throat.

    After a while, breathing will start again, often with a loud noise, known as snoring. While the brain tries to get air flowing again, the body is deprived of oxygen and the person may wake up or have shallow sleep.

    Because the quality of sleep is drastically reduced and the individual may have been awakened several times, those with sleep apnea may still feel tired after a nights sleep. In addition, the person may fall asleep during waking hours as a result of not getting sufficient rest due to the condition.

    The three major types of sleep apnea are:

    • Obstructive sleep apnea. This is the most common type. Muscles in the back of the throat will relax and block the air passage.
    • Central sleep apnea. With this type, the brain stops sending messages to breathe during sleeping. Usually, this results from illness.
    • Complex sleep apnea syndrome. In this type, obstructive and central sleep apneas combine.

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    The Inability To Sleep Due To Severe Sleep Apnea May Affect Your Work Activity Causing Disability

    The Social Security Administration evaluates sleep apnea under the Respiratory Disorders section of the Blue Book listing of impairments. The complications of sleep-related breathing disorders are evaluated under the listing for the body system that is affected. For example, if your sleep apnea has caused chronic pulmonary hypertension, it will be evaluated under 3.09: Chronic pulmonary hypertension due to any cause. According to Omaha disability lawyers at Cuddigan Law, this listing is seldom met by applicants because of its significant requirements. However, many applicants are awarded benefits who have severe sleep apnea as one of their impairments, along with a showing that sleep apnea in combination with the other impairments, such as a heart condition or obesity prevents or significantly limits their ability to work.

    For more information about this disorder and Social Security contact us. For our free brochure Give Yourself the Best Chance of Winning Your Social Security Disability Case contact Omaha Disability Lawyerby calling or email us at

    Qualifying For Disability For Sleep Apnea

    The Social Security Administration no longer has a disability listing for sleep apnea, but it does have listings for breathing disorders, heart problems, and mental deficits. If you meet the criteria of one of the listings due to your sleep apnea, you would automatically qualify for disability benefits. Some ways to meet the listings for complications caused by sleep apnea are having severe cognitive deficits, mood disturbances, and/or behavioral issues chronic pulmonary hypertension or chronic heart failure/cor pulmonale .

    Listing 3.09 states that chronic pulmonary hypertension can qualify automatically for disability benefits if mean pulmonary artery pressure is equal to or greater than 40 mm Hg . Listing 4.02 has lengthy criteria for when chronic heart failure will qualify for disability, and finally, listing 12.02, which covers organic mental disorders, discusses the criteria needed to qualify for disability based on mental issues like intellectual difficulties, memory problems, depression, and/or anxiety. To qualify for benefits under this listing, you must be able to show that you have either:

    The majority of people with sleep apnea will not qualify under one of the listings discussed above, but there is another way to qualify for disability.

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    Learn More In A Free Consultation

    The Law Offices of Sheryl Gandel Mazur represents clients throughout North and South New Jersey. Offices are open weekdays from nine to five, and your phone call will be promptly returned, to get you the answers you need.

    Call in North New Jersey or in South New Jersey or use the email contact form to arrange a free consultation.

    With offices in both Essex County and Atlantic County, we are able to conveniently serve people from throughout the state.

    Treatment Of Sleep Apnea Combines The Use Of Specially Designed Devices And Home Treatment

    Can I Apply for Social Security Disability with Sleep Apnea?

    The most common treatment is CPAP, Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. This treatment involves wearing a mask that is connected to a machine that delivers a constant flow of air to the nose, keeping the airways open so that the individual can breathe normally. Surgery may be recommended for patients with enlarged tonsils or a deviated septum.

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    If You Have Sleep Apnea And It Has Impacted Your Ability To Work And Hold A Job You May Be Eligible For Social Security Disability Benefits But Because It Is Difficult To Qualify You Should Consider Consulting A Qualified Disability Attorney

    Disability benefits are an important source of income for those who are unable to work. If you are not able to work due to accident or illness, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability or Long Term Disability benefits. If you have applied for benefits and been denied, contact the attorneys at Bemis, Roach and Reed for a free consultation. Call 512-454-4000 and get help NOW.

    Sleep Apnea Long Term Disability Claim Attorney

    If you suffer from sleep apnea and were denied long term disability benefits by your insurance company, Social Security or the Department of Veterans Affairs, Marc Whitehead & Associates can help you win the benefits you deserve.

    When you live with sleep apnea, you experience repeated, significant interruptions in breathing while sleeping. Some individuals stop breathing for up to two minutes. This stop/start cycle of breathingnot breathing may occur hundreds of time each night.

    Besides a terrible lack of sleep, fatigue, anxiety and other side effects of sleep disorders, chronic sleep apnea can result in hypoxemia, which is the lack of oxygen in the arterial blood. This is a serious condition where the brain and body do not get enough oxygen.

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    No Matter What Type Of Sleep Apnea A Person Has They Stop Breathing For Short Periods Of Time During Sleep

    When a person stops breathing, the brain and rest of the body do not get enough oxygen. These stoppages occur repeatedly, sometimes hundreds of times and often for one minute or longer. If untreated, sleep apnea can cause daytime fatigue, memory problems, weight gain and headaches. The condition can also adversely impact job performance and carries the risk of heart disease, diabetes, liver problems and auto accidents. Sleep apnea can affect anyone, even children, but men and people who are overweight are more at risk than others.

    What Conditions Automatically Qualify You For Disability

    What You Need To Know About Applying For Social Security Disability Benefits For REM Sleep Disorders

    Some conditions automatically qualify for disability benefits if you have a confirmed diagnosis. The Compassionate Allowances List Acute leukemia . Lou Gehrigs disease Stage IV breast cancer. Inflammatory breast cancer. Gallbladder cancer. Early-onset Alzheimers disease. Small cell lung cancer. Hepatocellular carcinoma.

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    What If I Dont Qualify

    Not everyone will qualify based on the criteria mentioned above. However, you may qualify based on your Residual Functional Capacity, or RFC. An RFC assessment determines what type of work you are still able to perform in spite of the limitations imposed by your condition. The SSA will look at how your symptoms and other conditions affect your job performance. For example, if you have heart problems as a result of your sleep apnea, you should not be lifting heavy objects. If you struggle with excessive daytime sleepiness, you should not be operating heavy machinery. The SSA may assess your mental RFC too if you have difficulty thinking, concentrating, remembering, or do not work well with others. You will qualify for benefits if your symptoms are severe enough that you are unable to work.

    Filing For Va Disability Benefits We Can Help

    Sleep apnea can affect every aspect of your life, from your ability to work to your overall health. Even if your sleep apnea was not directly caused by your military service, you may still be able to receive benefits for this condition if it is linked to a service-related disability. Working with a New Jersey veterans disability benefits attorney can increase the chances of being approved for a combined rating based on your primary condition and sleep apnea.

    At Bross & Frankel, we are proud to help the men and women who have served our country. We offer a range of legal services for veterans, including assistance with filing for VA disability benefits. Contact us today at , or online to schedule a free initial consultation.

    Speak with an experienced disability lawyer about your claim today.

    • Social Security Disability / SSI Claims
    • Veterans Disability Compensation & Pension
    • Long Term Disability Claims / ERISA Benefits
    • Workers Compensation Claims

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