Two years ago, Mack learned the reason he was so tired during the day – sleep apnea. This serious disorder causes a sleeping person to briefly be unable to breath. Though only age 52, he began falling asleep at work. Since he worked as a truck driver, his daytime drowsiness was a hazard to him and to the general public. Mack was forced to give up truck driving, the only job he’d ever had. A friend told him to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. He wondered if a sleep disorder was really a disability.
Sleep Disorders – Disability or Inconvenience?
Insomnia, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, and sleep terrors are just a few of the known sleep disorders. Many people don’t realize they have a sleep disorder. Sometimes the disorder is so mild it doesn’t cause disruptions in their daily lives. Other disorders cause extreme discomfort, life disruptions, and bring on other serious conditions. Sleep disorder can be a disability in some circumstances.
Social Security Disability Insurance 101.
Social Security Disability Insurance, also known as SSDI, provides monthly benefits to qualified disabled persons. The recipient must be unable to work due to a major medical condition that will last at least a year or cause the recipient’s death with a year.
Disability benefits vary based on how much the disabled worker earned before becoming disabled. For example, someone who made $20,000 a year before becoming disabled could be eligible for about 61% of that amount, or $12,288.
Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits for Sleep Disorders
During the application process, the Social Security Administration (SSA) assesses the applicant’s “residual functioning capacity” (“RFC”). This shows them what the disabled worker is still able to do despite their condition.
For someone who suffers from a sleep disorder, the SSA may look at how fatigue affects their ability to work. For example, Mack’s fatigue made it dangerous for him to operate heavy machinery, including semi-trucks.
In addition, the SSA will look at other medical conditions caused by or affected by the sleep disorder. So, if Mack’s doctor may diagnose him with pulmonary hypertension or congestive heart failure that was caused by his sleep apnea, the SSA might consider Mack eligible for SSDI because of the sleep apnea.
Also, the SSA looks at how the medical condition hinders the applicant’s ability to work. In some cases, the SSA may recommend the applicant find a job that is not affected by the disability. In Mack’s case, he has always worked as a truck driver and does not have a high school diploma or additional training. It may difficult or impossible for him to find a new career.
So, What’s the Final Word on Sleep Disorders?
SSDI provides coverage for some sleep disorders, but not all. If you or a loved one suffers from a sleep disorder that affects the ability to work, Social Security Disability Insurance may be able to provide some much-needed income.
The attorneys at The Law Offices of Martin Taller have more than 50 years’ legal experience, much of it involving Social Security disability claims. Find out where you stand. Call us at 714-385-8100 for a free consultation. Though our office is located in Anaheim, we assist clients throughout Southern California.