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Keefe Disability Law
Social Security Disability & Supplemental Security Income
Toll Free 888-904-6847
Call 508-283-5500
Fax 508-309-6954

Sleep Disorders and SSDI: Get the Facts

Sleep apnea is an interruption in breathing that occurs when a person is asleep. This interferes with a person’s ability to get a good night’s rest and can cause headaches, moodiness, depression, trouble concentrating, memory loss, confusion and daytime sleepiness. It can also cause insomnia. Many people with sleep apnea experience microsleep during the day. Microsleep is a brief loss of consciousness that lasts from two seconds to two minutes.  

Constant exhaustion can make it difficult to focus on work. Microsleep can make some jobs dangerous. Imagine the consequences of falling asleep while driving a large truck on a busy highway or operating dangerous machinery. 

The Social Security Administration uses a five-step process to determine if an applicant with sleep apnea or another sleep disorder qualifies for Social Security Disability benefits (SSDI):

  • The applicant must not earn more than $1,040 a month as an employee.
  • The condition must be expected to last at least a year.
  • The sleep disorder meets the criteria in Respiratory System – Medical Listing 3.10.  The applicant must provide medical evidence that he has a severe sleep disorder and that it has resulted in chronic cor pulmonale disorder (an enlarged right heart ventricle caused by hypertension in the pulmonary veins) or an organic mental disorder.
  • If the sleep disorder does not meet the criteria of Medical Listing 3.10, the sleep disorder must be severe enough to prevent you from doing any type of work you have done in the past.
  • The sleep disorder must prevent you from seeking another type of work because of its impact on basic work activities, such as standing, walking, sitting, carrying, lifting, pushing, pulling, handling, reaching, seeing, hearing or speaking, understanding or carrying simple instructions, remembering instructions, responding to co-workers and supervisors, or dealing with changes in routine.  

It can be difficult to prove that a sleep-related breathing disorder is preventing you from being able to work. Your doctor should keep accurate and detailed records about your condition. You should also keep a record of your disorder, including a sleep log and any effects that you experience during the day.

Most people who file a Social Security Disability claim based on a sleep-related breathing disorder are denied benefits after the initial application. Don’t give up. About 70 percent of those who are qualified for SSDI must go through the disability appeal process before being awarded SSDI. 

Learn more about the mistakes that can keep you from getting the Social Security Disability benefits you are entitled to in New Hampshire disability attorney John Keefe’s book, 7 Costly Mistakes that can Ruin Your Social Security Disability Claim. Order your free copy by clicking the link in the side bar.

To schedule an appointment with a Manchester SSDI attorney, contact Keefe Disability Law at 888-904-6847.


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