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Could sleep apnea qualify a New Jersey resident for SSDI?

Some of our readers may know that snoring may be a symptom of some cases of sleep apnea, but the latter is a real medical condition and can have very real effects on a person's health and lifestyle. This is recognized by agencies such as the Social Security Administration, which will consider severe sleep apnea when determining if an applicant qualifies for benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance program.

So, what is sleep apnea? The SSA categorizes it as a "sleep related breathing disorder" in the respiratory section of the blue book. Basically, sleep apnea is a condition in which a person stops breathing periodically while asleep, often either waking that person up completely, or interfering with a normal sleep pattern by rousing the individual out of a deeper sleep mode. While not everyone with this condition will be unable to work, the SSA recognizes that, in some cases, sleep apnea can cause drowsiness during the day, as well as pulmonary hypertension and, potentially, interfere with the function of a person's thinking.

A condition called "chronic hypoxemia" may be created by this periodic sleep apnea, such that a person's blood does not contain sufficient oxygen. This condition is similar to that which occurs when someone has a lung disease, heart disease or other illnesses that affect the pulmonary system. In these cases, the SSA will evaluate the effects of sleep apnea under the criteria for pulmonary hypertension. If there is cognitive disturbance due to the condition, it will be evaluated as if it were an organic mental disorder. Further, the SSA will take into consideration that obesity can couple with a condition like sleep apnea to create a larger effect than either condition by itself.

Those who struggle with sleep apnea are acutely aware of its consequences. The inability to remain cognitively vigilant due to lack of proper sleep, as well as the potential fatigue caused by oxygenation problems, may well render a person unable to work. When substantial gainful activity is precluded by sleep apnea, filing for SSDI benefits may help a person make ends meet. Those in such a situation may want to get more information about Social Security Disability for illness.

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