Sleep Apnea and Social Security Disability

Sleep Apnea is a condition characterized by periods of complete inability to control respiratory muscles while sleeping. This inhibits the ability to breathe. Sleep apnea can occur due to a rare disconnect between the muscles and the brain, or due to an obstruction of the windpipe during sleep.

Symptoms of sleep apnea include:

  • Sleepiness or low energy
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Recurrent awakenings throughout the night
  • Sore throat upon waking
  • Sleepiness while driving
  • Loud snoring
  • Forgetfulness or change in mood

Applying for Social Security Disability with Sleep Apnea

Living with severe sleep apnea can be quite difficult. Because sleep apnea can affect both your sleep and your breathing, it can lead to serious health problems. Not only can this condition cause you to feel a lack of energy after a poor night’s sleep, but it can also lead to cognitive impairment and put you at a higher risk of developing serious heart conditions. In order to receive financial assistance through Social Security Disability, you must be able to prove that your condition is severe enough to keep you from working. While this can be difficult, it is possible to qualify for disability benefits with sleep apnea.

SSD Approval Requirements for Sleep Apnea

In the Social Security Disability Blue Book, sleep related disorders are evaluated under chronic Cor Pulmonale or organic mental disorders. If you are considering filing for Social Security Disability benefits, consider the following:

Cor Pulmonale – Sleep apnea can cause an enlarged right heart ventricle due to hypertension in the pulmonary veins. To qualify under this requirement, you must demonstrate that your sleep apnea has caused:


  • Oxygen levels in your blood reach levels at or below the values listed by the SSA as chronic pulmonary insufficiency


Cognitive Impairment – Sleep apnea can affect your mood, intellectual ability, and memory. You may qualify for disability benefits if you have suffered from any of the following:

  • A loss of 15 or more I.Q. points
  • Emotional instability
  • Mood changes
  • Memory problems
  • Personality changes
  • Cognitive disturbances (delusions or hallucinations)

Medical Documentation

When applying for SSD on the grounds of Cor Pulmonale, you will need to provide lab results and any other documentation of your pulmonary function testing. If you are applying because of cognitive impairment, you will need to prove the severity of your condition by providing:

  • Medical history
  • Summary of any treatments
  • Letters from physicians
  • Any further documentation illustrating your condition and response to treatments

Hiring Representation for Your Social Security Disability Case

Receiving SSD to assist with sleep apnea can be somewhat difficult because you must prove that your condition is causing complications that inhibit you from working. In order to access the assistance you need, it is wise to enlist the help of a qualified and experienced Social Security Disability Attorney. They will understand all of the requirements and ensure that you submit a complete and accurate application.