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Sleep Related Breathing Disorders and Social Security Disability

Sleep Related Breathing Disorders – Condition and Symptoms

Sleep related breathing disorders, the most common of which is sleep apnea, are disorders which cause breathing problems while a person is sleeping. In the case of sleep apnea, a person can actually stop breathing for as long as a minute or two, hundreds of times per night. This results in broken sleep and all of the side effects associated with lack of sleep. More importantly, especially in the most severe cases, it can lead to hypoxemia, the lack of oxygen in the arterial blood.

Lack of oxygen in the blood can, in turn, affect many of the body’s functions. Most notably, lung function and heart function are affected, though virtually all bodily (and most mental) functions rely on the transfer of oxygen from the blood stream, causing conditions like sleep related breathing disorders to have far reaching consequences.

Some of the more common work-related symptoms and effects of sleep related breathing disorders include:

  • Lack of memory
  • Disorientation
  • Negative effects on personality
  • Hypertension
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Disturbance of cognitive abilities due to fatigue

Sleep disorders are typically caused by an actual physical blockage of the airflow. Other cases of sleep related disorders are caused by the body’s not attempting to breathe, which is believed to have psychological roots. In some cases, both types of sleep disturbances affect the same individual.

Often, sleep related breathing disorders can be treated. The results are mixed, but the more effective treatment methods include surgery and the use of constant positive air pressure (CPAP) masks for sleeping. Surgery is designed to remove obstructing tissue in order to ensure that the airway remains clear and open. The use of CPAP is designed to keep the airway open by using a constant stream of positive air pressure blown into the airway (usually through the nose).

Filing for Social Security Disability Benefits with a Sleep Related Breathing Disorders Diagnosis

Sleep related breathing disorders are listed in the Social Security Administration’s Listing of Impairments Manual (The Blue Book) in Section 3.10 Sleep-related breathing disorders. While they are given their own listing, however, the condition is evaluated based on one or two other related conditions, depending on the circumstances, including:

  • Chronic Cor Pulmonate. Chronic Cor Pulmonate has to do with the obstruction of blood flow from the right side of the heart into the lungs. It is a common, medically verifiable and measurable effect of sleep related breathing disorders, caused by the lack of oxygenation in the blood. The specifications for evaluating Chronic Cor Pulmonate are found in Section 3.09 of the Blue Book.
  • Organic Mental Disorders. When the cause of breathing cessation during sleep is deemed to be entirely or partially due to psychological issues, or when the psychological effects of sleep apnea are believed to be behind behavioral issues causing inability to function on the job, sleep related breathing disorders can be evaluated using Section 12.02 of the Blue Book.

Regardless of the cause of your sleep related breathing disorders, it is important that you follow all treatment regimens prescribed for you. You will need thorough documentation of all attempts to treat your sleep related breathing disorders, along with the results, in order to qualify for Social Security disability benefits.

In most cases, to qualify for disability benefits based on sleep related breathing disorders, your medical records will need to show that cor pulmonate has occurred and is irreversible. This can be shown using a number of medical imaging tests, spyrograph tests (which measures lung capacity and breathing), or a heart catheterization. The more medical evidence of the effects of your disabling condition, the better you will be able to make a case for disability benefits.

To qualify for disability based on the mental effects (or causes) of sleep related breathing disorders, you must show that you have been undergoing treatment for over a year without the situation improving enough to allow you to return to working. Again, it is imperative that you continue under your mental heath professional’s care and follow all treatments prescribed.

Your Sleep Related Breathing Disorder Disability Case

The process of applying for disability benefits can be a long one. All too often, after spending several months waiting, claimants are denied and faced with the choice of whether or not to pursue the matter through an even longer appeals process. While some claims will need to go to appeals to be successful despite representation, many of the claims which are denied would have been approved if they had been filed using the best practices.

A Social Security Disability lawyer knows how to present your claim in a manner which gives the SSA everything they need to give you an approval. Often, the difference between approval and denial is in the way medical documentation is phrased rather than in the actual substance of medical reports. Your disability attorney knows what the SSA is looking for and can do what it takes to give your claim a fighting chance.

To have your Social Security disability claim examined by an experienced disability lawyer, fill out the request for a free evaluation today.