Almost every one of us has suffered from insomnia at some point in our lives. In fact, according to statistics, about 1 in 3 adults are currently dealing with it.
But is insomnia a disability? Can you claim benefits if you’re having a hard time sleeping?
No, insomnia in itself isn’t considered a disability by the SSA. But you may be able to claim benefits if your insomnia is accompanied by other disabling medical conditions.
If you’re suffering from insomnia and are curious about your chances of getting benefits, here’s a quick guide for you.
As mentioned, insomnia is a common sleep disorder. People who suffer from it usually have a hard time falling asleep or staying asleep despite having the time and the right environment for sleeping.
The severity of insomnia can vary from one person to another. Some may only experience it for a few days or weeks. But for others, it can be chronic, lasting for months or years.
Because of this, the effects of insomnia can vary widely too. For some, the lack of sleep can cause mild symptoms like:
- tiredness or drowsiness during the day
- difficulty staying focused
- clumsiness or delayed responses
If insomnia is severe, it can also lead to severe symptoms like depression and memory problems. Some cases of chronic insomnia can even impact your ability to work and do other activities. Very severe cases can also lead to coma and eventual death.
Insomnia can also be primary or secondary. Primary insomnia means it happens on its own. While secondary insomnia is when it’s caused by another condition or situation.
Why It’s Hard to Get Disability for Insomnia
As I said, getting disability benefits for insomnia is not impossible, but it won’t be easy either.
For one, insomnia symptoms can vary widely. For some, it might just cause tiredness or irritability. But for others, it can impair their ability to do things and even lead to death.
Obviously, mere tiredness and irritability cannot be considered a disability. But if it’s already affecting your capacity to work and do things or if the symptoms are already fatal, it could be disabling enough for the SSA to grant you benefits.
The challenge, however, is proving that your condition is severely impacting your way of life. I mean, it’s easy to claim that your insomnia is disabling. But the SSA will need medical evidence to back up your claim.
This is why I said that insomnia alone isn’t a disability. It must come with other disabling medical conditions.
Another reason why it’s hard to get disability benefits for insomnia is the diagnosis process itself. Since insomnia isn’t a disease, there’s no standard test to determine it. Besides, each of us has different sleep patterns. So “normal sleep” can differ for everyone.
Because of this, insomnia is often diagnosed as a symptom of an underlying medical condition rather than a single disorder.
When is Insomnia a Disability?
As per SSA guidelines, a condition can only be considered a disability if it prevents you from working, is expected to last for more than 12 months, or result in death.
That said, your insomnia can be considered a disability if:
1. The condition causing your insomnia is listed in the SSA’s bluebook.
The SSA’s blue book is a listing of impairments that it considers a disability. Conditions that are included in this list are automatically considered a disability by the SSA.
So if the underlying cause for your insomnia is listed in the blue book, it will count as a disability.
Some of the disabling medical conditions often associated with insomnia include:
- heart disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
- post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
2. The conditions caused by your insomnia are listed in the SSA’s bluebook.
While insomnia usually has underlying causes, sometimes it is the underlying cause of various diseases. Some of the most common disabling conditions caused by insomnia are:
- memory disorders
- immune system disorders
3. Your insomnia prevents you from working
The SSA has a strict definition of disability and working capacity. To be considered a disability, your insomnia and underlying conditions must prevent you from:
- going back to the work you previously did
- engaging in another line of work due to your age or education
- engaging in a substantial gainful activity (SGA)
Substantial gainful activity refers to the level of work activity and earnings. To qualify for disability, you must not earn more than the monthly SGA amount set by the SSA, which changes each year. For 2023, the SGA amount is $1470 for non-blind and $2,460 for blind individuals.
Should You Hire a Lawyer?
While you’re not required to hire a social security disability lawyer, having one is a huge help.
An experienced disability attorney like Victor Malca knows the SSA’s rules and processes like the back of his hand. He knows what the SSA wants to see and hear. So he can help you gather the right type of evidence to support your claim, increasing your chances of getting approved for disability benefits.
VICTOR MALCA – Florida Workers Compensation & Social Security Disability Attorney
Victor Malca P.A. has over 27 years of litigation experience in Workers Compensation and Social Security Disability lawsuits. His experience and continued success when fighting for his clients puts him among the most trusted workers’ compensation attorney’s in Florida. He specializes in representing injured workers on compensation benefit cases and disabled individuals claiming lost social security disability benefits.
Book a free consultation today. Our unwavering advocacy for employee rights and privileges are recognized by our past clients across South Florida.
About The Author
Judy Ponio is a writer and editor for the Victor Malca Law P.A. website and blog. She enjoys helping people in need with questions about social security disability and workers compensation law. She has a passion for helping those in need and the elderly with accurate legal information that can make a positive difference in their lives.