If you are struggling with sleep apnea, you may qualify for benefits if your medical condition is impacting your work. In 2022, the percentage of disability recipients who qualified for disability benefits with respiratory disorders was 2.7%. 

The SSA has included sleep apnea as one of the respiratory disorders. To qualify for benefits, you need to show evidence that your medical condition is deteriorating and preventing you from working. In this article, you will learn the eligibility requirements and how to proceed with the disability claim for sleep apnea.

Can You Get Disability For Sleep Apnea?

If you are struggling with complications from sleep apnea and cannot engage in day-to-day activities, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability Benefits. The application procedure may take a long and can be challenging too. 

In case you are struggling with multiple disabling conditions you may qualify automatically for the benefits. If you are a veteran, you may also be eligible for the VA disability benefits. 

Is Sleep Apnea A Disability?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) does not specifically list sleep apnea as a disability. However, if your sleep apnea is severe enough to prevent you from working, you may be considered disabled. To qualify for the disability benefits, you must meet the SSA’s definition of disability.

To apply for disability benefits, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You must have a medically determinable impairment that has lasted or is expected to last for at least 12 months.
  • Your impairment must prevent you from doing substantial gainful activity (SGA).
  • Your impairment must be severe enough that you cannot adjust to other work.

The SSA will consider your symptoms, how they affect your ability to work, and your medical history when deciding.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which breathing is repeatedly interrupted during sleep. This can happen when the airway becomes blocked or narrowed, preventing you from getting enough oxygen. 

Sleep apnea can cause several health problems, including daytime sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, irritability, and mood swings. It can also increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, and other health problems.

What Are Sleep Apnea Symptoms

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by interruptions in breathing during sleep. Common symptoms of sleep apnea include:

  • Loud snoring
  • Episodes of breathing cessation during sleep, often witnessed by a bed partner
  • Gasping or choking sensations during sleep
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness or fatigue
  • Morning headaches
  • Difficulty concentrating or memory problems
  • Irritability or mood changes
  • Dry mouth or sore throat upon waking

If you have sleep apnea, it’s important to speak with a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Types Of Sleep Apnea That May Qualify For Disability Benefits

There are mainly three types of sleep apnea that may qualify for benefits: Central Sleep Apnea (CSA), Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), and complex sleep apnea (CompSA). However, it will vary depending on the severity and other factors whether or not you may qualify for the benefits or not.

  • In Central apnea, the brain stops sending signals to the muscles that may stop your breathing. It is a less commonly found type of sleep apnea. 
  • Obstructive sleep apnea is one of the commonly found types. It occurs when your airway has physical blockage while you are sleeping.
  • In complex sleep apnea, symptoms of both central and obstructive apnea occur. 

These types of apnea may have certain long-term consequences if not treated at the proper time. Furthermore, it may also lead to high blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease. Therefore, medical treatment is essential.

Sleep Apnea And The SSA Blue Book

The SSA Blue Book is a listing of medical impairments that are considered severe enough to qualify for Social Security disability benefits. Sleep apnea is not specifically listed in the Blue Book, but several other impairments are associated with sleep apnea that can qualify for benefits.

For example, if you have sleep apnea and one of the following conditions, you may be able to get disability benefits:

If you have sleep apnea and another condition that is listed in the Blue Book, you may be able to get disability benefits. However, you will need to show that your sleep apnea is severe enough to prevent you from working.

Eligibility Criteria To Get Disability With Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea may make you eligible for benefits if you prove that your medical condition prevents you from holding employment. Moreover, medical records and other treatment records may make your sleep apnea disability claim stronger.

  • The medical evidence includes documentation of the severity of symptoms, physical exam findings, pulmonary function tests, imaging results, and other lab test reports. 
  • Treatment reports may include detailing of your responses and descriptions of your treatment taken. 

Furthermore, the SSA will also analyze your medical condition based on pulmonary function tests, whether your forced vital capacity (FVC) is less or equal to ideal values according to your age, height, and gender.  

  • Other proofs including FEV1 (forced expiratory volume in the first second of a forced expiratory maneuver) are equal to or less than the ideal values according to the SSA based on your height, age, and gender.
  • Chronic impairment proof stating your approved measurement of your gas exchange. 
  • Proof that you have been experiencing exacerbations or complications based on your sleep apnea. For this, you require 3 hospitalizations in at least 30 days or more and you must have stayed for at least 48 hours or more. 

How To Proceed If I Meet The Sleep Apnea Criteria?

If you meet the sleep apnea eligibility criteria of the SSA, you may begin the application process as soon as you can. You must keep in mind the following guidelines while applying:

  • Apply now if you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea and your medical condition is not allowing you to work. 
  • Consider applying later if your symptoms are mild or moderate and you can hold a job and earn.
  • You must not apply if you are earning more than $1,550 and your symptoms are not severe enough to prevent you from engaging in day-to-day activities.

How To Proceed If I Do Not Meet The Sleep Apnea Criteria?

If you do not meet the eligibility criteria of the SSA for sleep apnea, you must apply under the medical-vocational allowance (MVA). you need to prove that you are unable to earn substantial gainful activity (SGA). A disability attorney may also help you to file an appeal if your initial application gets rejected. 

In 80% of initial application cases, the claim gets denied owing to various factors such as misleading information or no medical records. Therefore, in the appeal process, a legal professional may help you gather all the necessary documentation required by the SSA.

Contact Disability Law Firm For Sleep Apnea Disability Claims

If you are considering filing a disability claim for sleep apnea, you may want to contact a disability law firm for assistance. They are experts in assisting individuals in navigating the intricate application and appeals process for benefits.

A Social Security disability lawyer can provide a range of services, including helping you gather the necessary medical documentation to support your claim, assisting with the completion of application forms, and representing you in any appeals or administrative hearings.