By Lisa Giorgetti
If your narcolepsy interferes with your ability to work, you may be eligible for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). There are several ways to qualify for these benefits:
- Matching a listing corresponding to your condition in the SSA’s Blue Book.
- Equaling the listing for another condition.
- Through a medical vocational allowance.
In order to qualify, the SSA must first consider you disabled with a long-term condition. The SSA utilizes its Blue Book to determine which conditions are eligible, as it’s a guidebook of all disabling medical conditions and what symptoms you need to have in order to meet the requirements.
While there’s no Blue Book listing specifically for narcolepsy, many people with the condition are able to qualify under Section 11.03, Non-convulsive Epilepsy. This listing requires:
- Evidence of narcoleptic events happening more than once each week.
- The events persist despite at least three months of treatment.
- You are unable to perform daily activities as well.
You will need to supply any medical records that demonstrate that your case fits the parameters. This could mean doctors’ notes, records of medical visits, and proof of any treatments for narcolepsy. A diagnosis will help, but this alone will not be enough to qualify. www.disability-benefits-help.org/disabling-conditions/narcolepsy
In addition, you will need to select one of the two main disability benefits programs offered by the SSA:
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is intended for working adults who have become disabled. You will need to provide a substantial employment record demonstrating that you have worked long enough to qualify.
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI), geared to those with low income, requires that individuals submit their finances for evaluation. You have to meet the specified asset and income limits set by the SSA in order to qualify. www.disability-benefits-help.org/content/social-security-programs
When you’re ready to start the application, you may begin by filling out the forms online or in person at an SSA Office. Bring all of the medical and financial documentation required of you. Expect to wait a month or longer for a decision. If you’re denied, there’s an appeals process that must be initiated within 60 days.
If you get stuck, there are disability advocates you can hire to help prepare and present your claim. The application process may seem confusing, but the benefits provided are well worth the effort.
If you think your or a loved one might have narcolepsy, learn more about symptoms and treatment at www.wakeupnarcolepsy.org/about-narcolepsy/could-i-have-narcolepsy.