Narcolepsy is a potentially debilitating condition that can impact nearly every aspect of a person’s life. In some cases, the condition is so severe that it impairs a person’s ability to hold steady employment. For these individuals, Social Security disability is a crucial source of monetary support.

Currently, there is no official impairment listing for narcolepsy in the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Blue Book manual. Because there is no predefined listing, the process of applying for disability benefits for narcolepsy can be difficult to navigate. However, by understanding the requirements for benefits and obtaining the necessary documentation, many people with narcolepsy can obtain the disability benefits that they need.

Qualifying for Social Security Disability with Narcolepsy

Because narcolepsy is not listed as a potentially disabling condition in the SSA’s Blue Book manual, individuals with this condition can only qualify for Social Security disability benefits if they can show that their condition impacts their residual functional capacity, or ability to work and perform activities of daily living. Such activities include driving, cleaning, bathing, going to the store, cooking and generally caring for oneself and any dependents.

If the individual cannot perform past work because of their narcolepsy symptoms, the SSA will determine if there is other work that the individual can perform based on their age, education, past work experience and work limitations caused by narcolepsy symptoms.

Necessary Documentation

SSA applications for narcolepsy disability benefits must paint a complete picture of the severity of the individual’s narcolepsy symptoms, and demonstrate the necessity of Social Security disability benefits.

These applications must contain detailed medical records that show:

  • A formal narcolepsy diagnosis
  • The frequency, type and duration of narcolepsy symptoms
  • Persistence of symptoms, even after following prescribed medical treatments
  • Severe disruption of the ability to function personally and professionally due to symptoms

Each application comprises a wide range of personal information, medical evaluations and clinical assessments, including:

  • Diagnostic tests, such as sleep studies and EEGs
  • Detailed statements about the patient’s condition, outlook and progression of symptoms over time
  • Information about therapies or medications prescribed for symptoms
  • Feedback from a reputable, treating physician about the individual’s functional capacity

While the SSA accepts statements and feedback from any licensed physician who has treated the individual, this information tends to have more weight and credibility if it comes from a doctor who specializes in narcolepsy.

Disability Benefits Help. “Tips on Applying for Disability Benefits with Narcolepsy.” (n.d.) Accessed February 20, 2019.

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