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Too Sleepy To Work: What To Know About SSDI And Sleeping Disorders

by Maurice Moore

When you don't get enough sleep, it can affect every aspect of your health. In some cases, the inability to get a good night's sleep can be attributed to any number of sleep disorders. For workers unable to do their job due to a persistent lack of sleep, you may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. Read on and learn more about proving your disability to the Social Security Administration (SSA).

The Need For Oxygen

Breathing while sleeping is one of those things many take for granted. As part of the autonomic system, our brain takes control of our breathing sometimes – including while we sleep. Unfortunately, being in a prone position and having certain other medical conditions may put breathing at risk and that leads to a pattern of restless nights with little to no sleep. Sleep apnea is the most well-known sleep disorder but there are others. Sleep disorders will lead to problems staying awake at work and with concentration, memory, and more. More serious problems like heart trouble are also possible.

Getting Approved for SSDI

The SSA uses a multi-pronged approach to evaluate applicants. First, the applicant has to have worked and earned enough money to qualify for SSDI. If they have not, they may be eligible for the other SSA program, Social Security Income (SSI). The second part of the process is the most challenging. You have to prove that your sleep disorder makes it impossible to work at your most recent job.

The Level of Work Required

Different jobs require different levels of exertion. For example, desk work is not nearly as physical as construction work. The level of exertion required to perform the tasks of your former job is defined and compared with what you can do given your sleep disorder disability. There are few jobs that won't be negatively impacted by a sleep disorder since the condition can cause widespread problems with brain functions and the ability to remain awake during the performance of a task. Many people suffering from sleep disorders are told not to operate vehicles or heavy machinery by their doctors. These factors go into the evaluation known by the SSA as residual functional capacity (RFC).

Getting Approved for Benefits

Just because the SSA recognizes sleep disorders doesn't mean you are automatically approved and many applicants are almost routinely turned down when they apply. Don't be discouraged after you are denied benefits and take advantage of the appeal hearing opportunity. Be sure to talk to Social Security attorneys before your appeal date, however. They know what is needed at the meeting and how to argue for the benefits you need. Speak to a lawyer and find out what can be done to get you the help you need.