Sleep apnea affects more than 200,000 people in the United States per year. It is a serious sleeping disorder than affects your breathing while you are asleep. You can get disability benefits for sleep apnea, but check with your physician to get medically tested before you try applying for the disability assistance.

Disability Benefits for Sleep Apnea

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep Apnea is a sleeping disorder that interrupts a person’s breathing during sleep. Usually, they stop breathing multiple times during sleep, meaning the brain and the rest of the body is not getting enough oxygen. There are two types of sleep apnea:

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA): This sleep apnea is generated by something blocking the airway, usually the soft tissue in the back of the throat. It is the more common of the two types of sleep apnea.
  • Central Sleep Apnea: This sleep apnea occurs when the brain fails to tell the muscles to breathe.

Adults age 40 and over typically have a higher chance of getting sleep apnea. Some symptoms of sleep apnea are disturbed sleep, excessive sleepiness during the day, high blood pressure, heart attacks, congestive heart failure, cardiac arrhythmia, strokes and depression.

A popular treatment for sleep apnea is a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine. Whether you have a mild or severe case of sleep apnea, you should go to your physician to get a medical diagnosis, which often includes a sleep test (where you will stay overnight at a sleep center) and to find out about other treatments.

Does Sleep Apnea Qualify for Disability Benefits?

According to the Social Security’s Office’s Listing of Impairments, sleep apnea is covered in section 3.10 titled “Sleep Related Breathing Disorders.” They are also covered in section 12.02, which deals with mental illnesses. You can quality for ss benefits if your pulmonary artery pressure is greater than 40 mm Hg. Go to your local physician and have your blood pressure checked. Blood pressure is often affected by sleep apnea. You can also qualify if you have chronic pulmonary disease. Again, your physician can test you for that. Section 12.02 also covers the emotional and psychological effects of sleep apnea, including memory loss, disorientation and changes in personality and mood. You can see the full catalog of impairments the Social Security Office covers on the official Social Security Administration website.

How Do I Qualify?

You have three options to see if you qualify for ss benefits:

  • Call the Social Security Office. Their phone number is 1-800-772 1213.
  • Apply online at
  • Visit your local Social Security Office and physically fill out the paperwork. An appointment is required. You can visit to find the nearest office.
  • Seek the help of an experienced disability attorney to guide you through the application so that you have the highest possibility of your application being accepted.

You will get a decision to see if you quality for ss benefits within three to five months. If they reject your application, you have a couple options. You can appeal the denial, which can be a lengthy process, but it will be worth it in the end. Do not try to re-apply because there is a good chance that you will be rejected again. You can also seek out legal help. Hiring a Social Security Disability attorney can help your case during both the application and the appeal process.

If you think you have sleep apnea, go to your physician immediately. Sleep apnea is covered by the Social Security Office and you can get benefits. If the application process seems overwhelming and you’re not sure how to prove your sleep apnea, contact us at Clauson Law Office today.


Back injuries and problems can leave anyone unable to do their job. However, not everyone qualifies for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) on their back problems alone. Back problems are the most cited disability the Social Security Administration will see cross their paths but not every back problem qualifies under the SSA’s definition of what it means to be disabled. Before applying, make sure to know if you qualify and everything you’ll need to prove your back problems qualify.

What type of back problems qualify for disability

How to Qualify

First, you need to make sure you qualify for SSDI to apply. The Social Security definition of disability states that you have to be unable to execute the work you did before, unable to adjust the kind of work you previously did because of your condition, and has lasted for or is expected to last at least a year or until your death. You also need to have built up a number of work credits over your working lifetime in order to be eligible for benefits. You can find the information for how many credits you need and have on the SSA website. Know what age you were when you became disabled to figure out your work credit. After that, you can begin gathering the information you need to apply.

What Back Problems Qualify?

Not all back problems will qualify for SSDI under the SSA’s definition of disability. Most of the disorders that qualify are spinal-related injuries. The SSA website lists herniated nucleus pulposus,, spinal stenosis, spinal arachnoiditis, degenerative disc disease, osteoarthritis, facet arthritis and vertebral fracture as examples of what qualifies. Chances are if you haven’t heard of these, you don’t have them.

With any back injuries, you still need to fit into the SSA guidelines of what it means to be disabled. Be aware that proving some of these like Nerve Root Compression might be harder than others. While these are some of the injuries listed as SSDI back disorders, there are also others that you can apply for. Things like spinal fusion, back surgery or paralysis also fall under the category of back injuries and problems you can apply with.

However, you still need to fall into the SSA definition of disability and have ample evidence of your issues. Documentation like X-rays, MRIs and doctor’s notes in your file will all help your claim for SSDI. It is important to remember that back issues are the most cited reason for people to apply for disability benefits, and the benefits are only granted to the most severe of cases. You must be able to prove that your back problems make your ability to function extremely limited, that you fall into their categories of spinal disorders and that your credibility can’t be called into question.

How to Apply

The SSA website offers a checklist when getting ready to apply. Having the most information possible on yourself, your work history, tax history from your accountant and medical information. The more documents, facts and information you come armed with about yourself and your medical history, the more likely you’ll get through the process quickly. Also have any banking information ready if you’d like to set up direct deposit. A disability attorney can successfully navigate you through the entire application process if this already seems overwhelming to you.

What Happens Now?

The wait time can be between three to five months for the application to be processed. If you are unable to work during that period of time then make sure that you figure out short-term income solutions for yourself while you wait for your application to be processed through the SSA. You will receive an email or letter in the mail with your approval or denial. If you are approved to receive SSDI, your first payment from the SSA will be for the sixth full month after the date that your disability benefits began. Payments are then sent the month afterwards so benefits for July would be paid in August. You can calculate how much you’ll receive on the SSA website.

Because the SSA gets so many back problem applications, be aware that a denial is highly possible. But it isn’t the end of the world. Your denial email or paperwork will come with information on how you can appeal the decision. Be sure to read everything thoroughly so you know exactly why they denied your claim (don’t qualify under their definition or is it because of a non-medical reason) so you can fight the decision to the best of your ability.

Applying for SSDI due to back issues won’t be easy but it’s possible. The SSA needs to be convinced that you cannot work with your back problems, and that burden falls on you. When applying, go in with as much information on your condition as possible. To find out exactly what you need to do to apply, visit us at Clauson Law Firm today.


Suffering from a disability is one of the most difficult things any person can endure. While the Social Security Administration (SSA) can help provide support, it’s not easy to know exactly what that benefit will be. If you need Social Security disability income, how do you know what the SSA will be paying?

How is the social security disability income amount determined

Determining What the SSA Pays for SSDI

If you’re eligible for Social Security Disability Income (SSDI), which means having paid into Social Security for long enough while employed, then here’s a brief breakdown of how payments are calculated. First, the SSA determines what your Average Indexed Monthly Earnings are, or would be over 35 years. This can be a bit confusing to calculate if you became disabled before actually completing 35 years of work.

The way it’s calculated for those that don’t have 35 years of work experience is as follows:

  • Take the age you were at the onset of the disability
  • Subtract 21 from that age
  • Subtract either 5 from that number of years, or 1/5th of that difference.
  • For example, if you were 36 when the disability set in, then you would subtract 21 from 36, giving you 15.
  • Then multiply 1/5th by 15, which is 3 years.
  • Since 3 years is less than 5, subtract the 3 from the 15 for a total of 12 years. The SSA will then only make the average monthly income based on the highest 12 years of earning you received.
  • If you were 46 or older at the onset of disability then you’ll be subtracting 5 from the difference between that age and 21.

Next is determining what your Primary Insurance Amount would be. This is the most complex aspect of the calculations. The SSA breaks down your average monthly earnings into three sections, then adds those three pieces together and that equals your monthly benefit payment. The three sections are broken down into brackets that are used for everyone.

  • $1 to $885 equals a benefit equal to 90%
  • $886 to $5,335 gets 32% as a benefit
  • $5,336 and above gets only 15%

For example, if you made $6,000 as the monthly average, then you’d receive $796.50 for the first $885, plus $1,424 for the amount between $886 and $5,335 of your average wages, then an additional $99.60 for the remainder. That would mean your total benefit should equal $2,320.10 per month.

Benefits for SSI

If you will receive Supplemental Security Income instead, then the calculation is more straightforward. SSI is based on your income, not your work history. The maximum payable amount is set by Congress, and half of any earnings you are likely to make over $65 per month, are deducted from that. If you need help making more sense of what you can receive for your Social Security disability income then contact a certified Social Security attorney to help determine what you could be paid.


If someone is denied to receive Social Security disability benefits, it is highly recommended to appeal these denials. Some may continue filing separate claims each time, but that can hurt your case. The decision would not change if you file separate claims each time because it would continue to be sent to the same agency that denied your first claim instead of moving to another agency, which is likely that it will be denied for the same reasons. Though a reconsideration appeal — which is the first appeal — has approval rates of roughly 15 percent, that direction is more successful than reapplying every time.

Social Security Disability after being denied 3 times

Reconsideration appeals are also sent to be furthered review for a medical decision. This difference between this is that the disability agent takes the time to review the file and they make the decision. Generally speaking, unless a mistake was made by the initial examiner or there have been some new medical evidence, the appeal may still be denied for the same reasoning as before. Though, based on the actuality of the situation, the reconsideration appeal may not seem like a better option, it is a better option than filing another initial claim because it can be a step closer to appearing in front of an administrative judge.

If your claim gets denied three times, there are other options that you can take:

Give up on your claim: Of course, this option isn’t recommended, especially after all of the appeals you’ve already went through to get this far. Those who are persistent with this, at likely to win their claim once they keep trying. Your probability has increased just by the amount of attempts you have gone through and also having a representative in the presence as well. Your representative will have vital information to plead your case, such as medical records and statements from medical professionals.

File an appeal with the council: An appeal council is a group a judges who review your disability case and based on all information provided, make a decision.

Filing an appeal with the council and also a new disability claim: After being denied three times, at this point, you are able to take both actions. Generally, a decision on a new claim will be determined before the appeal council makes a decision. It makes the most sense to file a new claim during this process because by the time a case has gotten this far, there should be more medical evidence to support your claim to come up with a new decision.

If you are denied for Social Security disability benefits, especially multiple times, it is natural to want to give up. If you have a lawyer with you, they will make sure you don’t lose hope and continue fighting. A lawyer will want to maximize your success by taking chances on your claim and doing what they need to do so you can receive your benefits.


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