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Getting Social Security Disability benefits for narcolepsy is challenging, but possible

On Behalf of Christian Ayers
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Narcolepsy is a chronic sleep disorder. Its best-known symptom is excessive sleepiness in the daytime. People in the Charlotte area with narcolepsy can fall asleep at virtually any time. Other symptoms include hallucinations, changes in REM sleep, sleep paralysis and, in some cases, sudden loss of muscle tone (known as cataplexy).

Because patients can have great difficulty staying awake during the day, it can make working and earning an income very difficult. Nevertheless, the Social Security Administration (SSA) does not automatically grant Social Security Disability benefits based on a diagnosis of narcolepsy because the condition is not on the agency’s list of qualified disorders. But this does not mean that your narcolepsy is not a disability or that you cannot be granted SSD benefits to make up for your lost income.

Proving SSD eligibility based on narcolepsy

To qualify for SSD based on a narcolepsy diagnosis, you must meet these criteria:

  • Generally, you must have worked full-time at least five out of the past 10 years
  • You must have at least one narcolepsy-related episode per week
  • You must have been in treatment for narcolepsy for at least three months but still be experiencing symptoms
  • The condition must significantly impact your ability to perform daily activities

You will also have to provide detailed medical information in your application. Typically, you will need to describe your symptoms, when they began, the tests your doctor conducted, and the medications you are on. Your doctor should also provide a letter detailing how narcolepsy affects your ability to work.

A challenge worth taking

An SSD claim for narcolepsy or another condition not on the SSA’s list of qualified disorders can be complicated. But it can still be successful, or you can prevail on appeal. Your best chance of obtaining benefits is to work with an experienced SSD attorney.