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Applying for disability with narcolepsy

Narcolepsy is a type of sleep disorder that causes, among other things, excessive daytime sleepiness. Some narcoleptics also experience cataplexy, or a sudden loss of muscle tone that can cause them to suddenly drop over. Combined with the inability to stay awake, the disorder can be quite debilitating.

Does narcolepsy qualify you for Social Security Disability benefits? If you look through the agency's list of "disabling conditions," you won't find narcolepsy specifically listed -- but that doesn't mean you can't win approval for your claim.

Here are some things that may help you get approved:

1. List all your symptoms.

It is never safe to assume that Social Security examiners are actually familiar with your disorder or will take the time to understand your symptoms from the medical reports alone. Don't forget to mention the side effects of the disorder you experience, like:

  • "Sleep attacks" that come out of nowhere
  • The inability to handle strong emotional stress without collapsing due to cataplexy
  • Incidents of sleep paralysis and how they affect you
  • Any trouble with hypnagogic hallucinations that can affect you while you're in a quasi-sleep
  • Problems waking up due to fractured REM sleep periods
  • Restless leg syndrome (which is associated)
  • Obstructive sleep apnea (which can aggravate your other problems)
  • Memory lapses, especially involving times where you were more asleep than awake

2. Keep a log and show your doctor.

A log of incidents related to your narcolepsy can help document your attacks. If you can't keep it yourself, ask a family member to help. Show it to your doctor at each visit so that it gets copied and added to your medical records.

Much of the time, proving that you should be entitled to benefits relies on showing the claims examiner that your symptoms are both severe and frequent.

If you've struggled to get your Social Security Disability claim for narcolepsy approved, maybe it's time to seek experienced assistance.

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