Is Sleep Apnea a Disability?

Sleep apnea is a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most prevalent form of the condition, which occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat fail to keep the airway open during sleep. The resulting pauses in breathing can lead to chronic pulmonary hypertension, which can have a severe impact on an individual’s ability to function during the day.

Many people with sleep apnea may wonder if their condition qualifies them for Social Security Disability benefits. In this article, we will examine the criteria the Social Security Administration (SSA) uses to evaluate sleep apnea claims and discuss the types of benefits available.

To qualify for disability benefits for sleep apnea, an individual must demonstrate that their condition has a severe impact on their residual functional capacity (RFC), which is the ability to perform physical and mental tasks. The SSA will consider the individual’s symptoms, such as excessive daytime sleepiness, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating. The SSA will also examine the individual’s medical records, including the results of sleep studies, to determine the severity of the condition.

Untreated sleep apnea can lead to a variety of health problems, including high blood pressure, heart conditions, and cor pulmonale. Central sleep apnea, which is less common than obstructive sleep apnea, can also cause breathing disorders and lead to organic mental disorders.

To qualify for social security disability benefits, the individual must meet specific criteria outlined in the Blue Book, which is the SSA’s official list of medical conditions that qualify for disability benefits. Sleep apnea is not a separate listing in the Blue Book, but it can qualify under other listings, such as respiratory disorders or cardiovascular impairments.

If an individual’s condition does not meet the criteria listed in the Blue Book, they may still qualify for disability benefits if they can demonstrate that their condition has a severe impact on their RFC. In such cases, the SSA will evaluate the individual’s condition on a case-by-case basis.

In conclusion, sleep apnea can qualify an individual for Social Security Disability benefits, but it must be severe enough to impact their RFC. The SSA will examine an individual’s symptoms and medical records to determine the severity of their condition. If you believe you qualify for benefits for sleep apnea, it’s essential to speak with a Social Security Disability attorney who can help you navigate the complex application process.


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