Yes, it is possible to get disability benefits for narcolepsy if you can prove your narcolepsy prevents you from holding a job and your medical condition is worsening for at least one year or more. To qualify for disability benefits for narcolepsy, an individual must meet the Social Security Administration (SSA) criteria mentioned in the Blue Book. 

The SSA evaluates narcolepsy under the listing for sleep-related disorders. To be eligible, an applicant must provide medical evidence that confirms the diagnosis of narcolepsy and demonstrates the severity of their symptoms has been lasting for at least 12 months or more.

Is Narcolepsy a Disability?

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Narcolepsy is a recognized disability.  According to this law, you will get reasonable accommodations such as taking rest breaks or adjusting your schedule to help deal with the symptoms of Narcolepsy.

Individuals with narcolepsy may be eligible for disability benefits such as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The only condition is that their condition prevents them from engaging in substantial gainful activity.

How Does SSA Define Narcolepsy?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) defines narcolepsy as a neurological disorder characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness and recurrent, uncontrollable sleep attacks. To qualify for narcolepsy disability benefits, an individual must provide medical evidence of a diagnosis from a qualified medical professional, such as a neurologist or sleep specialist. The SSA considers narcolepsy as other neurological disorders such as severe migraine or epilepsy disability.  

Narcolepsy is related to certain types of disabilities, such as sleep apnea, neurological impairments, chronic pain, depression, and anxiety, impacting an individual’s daily life and ability to work. 

What Are The Types Of Narcolepsy?

There are two primary types of narcolepsy:

  • Type 1 Narcolepsy: Also known as narcolepsy with cataplexy, this type is accompanied by excessive daytime sleepiness. In this type, individuals may also experience sudden loss of muscle tone, known as cataplexy. Cataplexy is often triggered by strong emotions such as laughter or surprise.
  • Type 2 Narcolepsy: This type, also called narcolepsy without cataplexy, involves excessive daytime sleepiness but does not have cataplexy as a symptom. Instead, individuals with type 2 narcolepsy may experience other symptoms such as sleep paralysis, hallucinations, and disrupted nighttime sleep.
  • Secondary Narcolepsy: When your narcolepsy occurs as a result of brain injury, it is known as secondary narcolepsy.  

What Are The Symptoms Of Narcolepsy?

The symptoms of narcolepsy disability include:

  • Excessive Daytime Sleepiness: Overwhelming and persistent sleepiness, leading to sudden sleep attacks during the day.
  • Cataplexy: Sudden loss of muscle tone, often triggered by emotions like laughter or surprise, causing weakness or even temporary paralysis.
  • Sleep Paralysis: Temporary inability to move or speak while falling asleep or waking up.
  • Hallucinations: Vivid and often frightening dream-like experiences that occur when falling asleep or waking up.
  • Disrupted Nighttime Sleep: Frequent awakenings during the night and difficulty staying asleep.

Questions To Ask Yourself Before Applying For Narcolepsy Disability Benefits

Before applying for disability benefits for narcolepsy, consider asking yourself the following questions:

  • Do I Have a Confirmed Diagnosis of Narcolepsy? 
  • How Do My Symptoms Affect My Daily Life? 
  • Have I Tried Appropriate Treatments? 
  • Can I Provide Sufficient Medical Evidence?
  • Am I Unable to Engage in Substantial Gainful Activity? 
  • Are My Symptoms Expected to Persist Long-Term? 
  • Can I Comply with the Application Process? 
  • Am I Ready to Seek Professional Assistance? 
  • Have I Exhausted Other Employment Options? 
  • Can I Maintain Regular Medical Follow-Ups? 

Asking these questions will help you assess your eligibility and readiness to apply for narcolepsy disability benefits. 

How To Apply For Narcolepsy Disability Benefits

After you meet the eligibility criteria, the next step is to apply for narcolepsy disability benefits. Some of the steps to be followed are:

  • Gather Medical Documentation: Collect all relevant medical records, including your narcolepsy diagnosis, treatment history, and any documentation of its impact on your daily life and ability to work.
  • Check Eligibility: Review the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) eligibility requirements for disability benefits to ensure you meet the criteria for narcolepsy.
  • Apply Online or In-Person: You can apply for Social Security disability benefits online through the SSA website or by visiting your local Social Security office to complete an application in person.
  • Complete the Application: Provide accurate and detailed information on the disability application form, including your personal information, work history, medical condition, and treatment details.
  • Provide Work History: Detail your work history, including the types of jobs you performed and how your narcolepsy symptoms impacted your ability to work.
  • Wait for Decision: The SSA will review your application and medical evidence to decide on your disability claim. This process may take several months.

SSA’s Eligibility Criteria For Getting Disability With Narcolepsy

Fundamentally, an applicant needs to provide the medical documentation of narcolepsy diagnosis. It may include X-rays, CT scans, sleep studies, lab reports, or MRIs. Mainly, you need to prove that your condition is getting worse even after continuous medical treatment. Some medical tests that may be considered by the SSA when they review your narcolepsy are:

  • Multiple sleep latency test (MSLT): This test measures an individual’s daytime sleepiness level and how fast they fall asleep.
  • Spinal tap: It is used to measure the amount of the brain hormone hypocretin-1. If the levels of this brain hormone are low, it indicates narcolepsy
  • Polysomnogram, or sleep study: This study will gather reports of your overnight brain and recording will be done including muscle activities

There must be other medical records showing the effects and symptoms of your narcolepsy. Individuals may also struggle with memory issues and they may show cognitive test reports and other doctor’s notes to make their claim stronger.

What If My Narcolepsy Meets The Criteria?

If your narcolepsy meets the eligibility criteria of the SSA, you must fill out the disability application form as soon as possible. This is because the application process is lengthy and complicated. Therefore, it is advisable that the sooner you apply for the benefits, the sooner your benefits will get approved.  You need to prove to the Social Security Administration that your medical condition prevents you from holding a job for at least one year or more. 

The SSA has strict criteria and you need to provide all the essential documentation such as medical documentation that must not be misleading. You can even consult a disability lawyer who will help you gather medical evidence and will also strengthen your disability case by filling out the application form appropriately.

What If My Narcolepsy Doesn’t Meet The Criteria?

If your disability doesn’t meet the criteria of Social Security disability benefits for narcolepsy, you may consider seeking legal help. However, you may explore other options, such as seeking reasonable workplace accommodations or alternative treatments to manage your symptoms effectively. 

If your narcolepsy disability claim is denied, you can appeal the decision. A disability attorney can assist you through the appeals process.

Tips To Be Considered Before Applying For Narcolepsy Disability Benefits

Always maintain a journal in which you must state how your Narcolepsy is impacting your day-to-day activities and preventing you from completing your projects at work within the deadline. Along with these, write the symptoms you are experiencing, medications you are taking, and if anything is helping to relieve your symptoms. 

Ask your healthcare provider to give detailed records stating your Narcolepsy symptoms and what difficulties you are facing in sitting, lifting, or other cognitive functions. 

You must meet the following 3 essential conditions:

  • Your narcolepsy is not improving even after taking medications for 3 months
  • Your medical condition is impacting your occupation and daily duties
  • You have been missing from work for at least 4 days in one month due to your narcolepsy

You must review your short-term and long-term disability policies and whether you meet the above-mentioned tips before applying for the benefits.

How Much Is a Disability Check For Narcolepsy?

The amount of disability benefits for narcolepsy varies based on several factors, including the type of disability benefits you receive and your work history. However, the average Social Security disability check for narcolepsy is approximately $1377.36 monthly.

 There are two main types of disability benefits available through the Social Security Administration (SSA) for individuals with narcolepsy:

  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI): SSDI benefits are based on the individual’s work history and the amount paid into the Social Security system through payroll taxes. The average monthly Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefit payment in 2024 is around $3,822.
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI): SSI benefits are need-based and available to individuals with limited income and resources. As of 2024, the maximum federal SSI benefit amount is $942 monthly.

How Can a Disability Law Firm Help With Narcolepsy Disability Benefits?

If you are experiencing excessive daytime sleepiness or brain fog owing to your narcolepsy which is preventing you from work, you must work with a disability lawyer. These symptoms will have devastating effects on your well-being and overall health.  

A Social Security disability lawyer may guide you in the appeal procedure that requires additional medical documentation and other evidence. They will represent you in front of the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) and will fight for your rights.