Social Security Disability (SSD) is a program that helps thousands of Americans with severe disabilities continue to receive a living wage and help afford medical care associated with their disabilities, even if they are no longer able to work. Getting this help requires proving you have a disability that the Social Security Administration (SSA) acknowledges, and proving that you cannot work.
While sleep apnea is not listed as a disorder in the SSA’s “Blue Book” of disabilities, you may still be able to seek disability payments because of your sleep apnea. For help applying, or for help dealing with a denial, talk to a Social Security attorney in Arkansas today. Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, has been practicing law for decades, helping disabled Arkansans get the disability payments they need.
Does Sleep Apnea Qualify for Social Security?
In order for your disability to qualify for SSD, you need to meet a few criteria. First, your disability must be severe enough that you will be out of work for a year or more – or the disability is expected to end in your death. Second, you are only “disabled” under the SSA’s definition if you are unable to work. That means that you cannot perform a previous job or any other work activity that can provide a living wage. As long as your disability prohibits you from “Substantial Gainful Activity” that pays at least $1,170 per month (for 2017), you may qualify as “disabled.”
The Social Security Administration lists conditions that it considers “disabilities” in its “Blue Book.” For adults, there are 14 categories of disability, including cardiovascular disorders, neurological disorders, mental disorders, and more. One of the five steps the SSA uses to determine whether you have a “disability” is checking if the disability is on this list – or “medically equals” a listed condition.
Unfortunately for those suffering from sleep apnea, “sleep apnea” is not a listed condition. However, sleep apnea is often associated with other disorders, some of which may qualify you for disability. Sleep apnea has two types: obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), where the airway closes while you sleep, causing an interruption in sleeping and breathing; and central sleep apnea, where the brain does not signal your muscles to breathe, causing potential breathing and sleep interruption. Some of the biggest risk factors for sleep apnea are being overweight and over 40 years old. These coincide with the risk factors for cardiac disorders, which may qualify for SSD.
Though you may not be able to collect SSD directly because of your sleep apnea, if it causes or coincides with another condition, you may be able to collect for that disability. Some related conditions listed in the SSD’s disabilities include:
- Various types of heart disease
- Peripheral arterial disease
- Chronic respiratory disorders
- Chronic pulmonary hypertension
- Respiratory failure
If you have any of these disorders, or another disorder alongside your sleep apnea, you may qualify for SSD.
Sleep Apnea Disability Benefits
Social Security Disability pays applicants so they can continue to receive income when they are unable to work. Similar to how the SSA also provides benefits to retired individuals, it can provide wages to disabled individuals, too.
These benefits are only available to those who are unable to work because of their disability. Just because you have bad sleep apnea, which leads to another qualifying disorder, does not automatically mean you can receive benefits. You must first prove to the SSA that you are unable to work due to your disability. If you can still go to work and perform a job – even if it is not your desired job – the SSA will say you do not need SSD payments.
This means your disorder must be quite severe before you can receive benefits. Often, proving the severity of your disorder means seeking medical testing and letters from your doctor verifying your condition. The SSA might also ask you to explain, in your own words, how the disorder affects your day-to-day life. They might even require their doctors to examine you to verify your condition’s severity, or give you a trial work period where you prove yourself incapable of working.
Receiving benefits can be the difference between maintaining normalcy and struggling to make ends meet when struggling with a disability. Since sleep apnea does not directly qualify for SSD benefits, finding a qualifying condition that you do have may be difficult. A Social Security attorney can help explain your condition, why it should qualify, and why you need disability payments in terms the SSA understands.
Our Arkansas Disability Lawyers May be Able to Help
To best ensure your application is full, complete, truthful, and provides enough evidence of your disability, have a disability attorney review your application. If you have been denied, we can also fight to try to get the denial overturned. Call Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, today for a free consultation on your Social Security application. Our number is (479) 316-0438.