Applying for SSDI with Narcolepsy

Cartoon of a worker fall asleep on work desk

A person living with narcolepsy can apply for and receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), but he or she will first need to know whether his or her symptoms qualify for the payments. The Social Security Administration (SSA) does not consider narcolepsy to be a disability. Nevertheless, if the disorder’s symptoms interfere with a person’s ability to work full time, then he or she can still get the benefits.

Qualifying Criteria

Narcolepsy is not listed in the SSA Blue Book. As a result, the SSA looks at whether the symptoms of a person who suffers from narcolepsy are similar to those of a listed condition. Narcolepsy that causes a person to experience sleep attacks frequently can be considered medically equal to dyscognitive seizures, which is under the epilepsy listing

For a person’s narcolepsy to be considered as severe as the epilepsy listing, the person must have one or more episodes of narcolepsy every week, symptoms must persist despite having received treatment for at least three months and the condition has a significant impact on the person’s ability to engage in daily activities, such as understanding, following directions and driving

Evidence to Provide When Applying For SSDI

Providing as much medical evidence as possible helps prove a person’s case for Social Security disability benefits. Before applying for benefits, a person suffering from narcolepsy should make sure he or she has enough medical documentation, including:

  • A formal diagnosis of narcolepsy
  • The tests undergone to confirm his or her narcolepsy, such as a polysomnogram (sleep study), ECGs, EEGs and lab tests
  • When the condition began
  • Symptoms and their frequency
  • All medications taken, and their effects
  • Statements from the treating doctor explaining how the narcoleptic symptoms affect the person’s ability to work and lead and normal life, including activities like sitting, walking, lifting, carrying and understanding and remembering instructions

What Should Be Done if SSDI Application Is Denied?

If an application is denied, the applicant can file an appeal within 60 days of the date on his or her denial notice. In case the appeal is denied, a disability hearing in front of a judge will be the next stage. Statistics show that applicants who work with disability lawyers have higher chances of being awarded benefits than those who choose to represent themselves.

Applying for SSDI can be a confusing process. Applicants can get assistance from local disability lawyers, the SSA’s disability starter kit, and organizations for people with disabilities.


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