Many people take sleep for granted but others are not so lucky. Sleep disorders have received more attention in recent years because medical professionals have learned how detrimental these can be to our health. In fact, sleep disorders are now taken so seriously that some of them qualify as Social Security disability diseases, entitling sufferers to compensation due to their inability to work.
The specific types of disabilities that qualify for Social Security disability income (SSDI) within this category are sleep-related breathing disorders such as sleep apnea. These medical conditions are listed as respiratory system impairments for SSDI purposes. A sleep-related breathing disorder is caused by the periodic cessation of respiration that is associated with frequent sleep arousals and hypoxemia, a medical term for low blood oxygen pressure.
This disturbed sleeping pattern and chronic nocturnal hypoxemia associated with it cause sleepiness during the daytime, cognitive functioning disturbances, and possibly, chronic pulmonary hypertension. Personality, orientation, and memory may be affected by sleepiness during the daytime, requiring a lengthy record of treatment to evaluate the mental functions of the sufferer. Daytime drowsiness can also be associated with disturbances in cognitive functioning, which qualify the condition for evaluation using criteria for organic mental disorders.
A sleep-related breathing impairment may have a physiologic foundation. In this case, documentation must be provided to indicate right ventricular failure or overload that is irreversible and chronic. In all cases, the disorder must limit the ability to perform the basic work activities required in most jobs. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will review the ability of the sufferer to perform work following diagnosis of the disorder. If the individual is unable to perform past work or other work based on age-related medical-vocational rules, the person may be declared disabled.
Sleep disorders can be difficult types of disabilities to prove and the SSA requires an abundance of medical documentation. An SSDI lawyer will help an individual determine what paperwork should accompany the disability claim. A client may authorize an attorney to discuss the condition with a treating physician to determine its length and severity.
As with most Social Security disability diseases, it is important to prove that the condition meets the SSA definition of a disability in this category. If sufficient information is not provided at time of application, the claim will be denied. The claimant should then request assistance from an attorney to file an appeal because this process can be long and complex.