Yes, it is possible to get disability benefits for narcolepsy. To qualify for disability benefits for narcolepsy, an individual must meet the Social Security Administration (SSA) criteria. 

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?

Yes, narcolepsy is considered a disability. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in the United States, narcolepsy is recognized as a disability. The ADA prohibits discrimination based on public accommodations, state or local government services, and employment.

Employers must provide reasonable accommodations to employees with narcolepsy to enable them to perform their job duties effectively. 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.

What is 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. 

Narcolepsy is related to certain types of disabilities, such as sleep apnea, neurological impairments, chronic fatigue, 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.

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. 

My narcolepsy meets the criteria. Now what?

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 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 make a determination on your disability claim. This process may take several months.

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 SSDI benefit payment in 2023 is around $3,600.
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI): SSI benefits are need-based and available to individuals with limited income and resources. As of 2023, the maximum federal SSI benefit amount is $914 monthly.

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 taking 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 social security disability attorney can assist you through the appeals process.