Getting Disability for Insomnia and Other Sleep Disorders
For individuals that suffer from insomnia, the disease creeps into every aspect of their lives. When you cannot sleep or do not sleep well, you are more irritable and less productive. When it is hard to get sleep, stay asleep and then wake up unrefreshed from a night of tossing and turning, problems ensue. Focus, concentration and executive functioning skills are the first to plummet. More than 60 million people in the United States currently struggle and suffer from insomnia.
People often find they can no longer perform the important duties of their occupation or provide for their family due to insomnia and other sleep disorders. Unfortunately, seeking relief from insomnia is usually not a quick or cheap process. Due to the severity of sleep disorders, you may qualify for individual or group disability benefits, depending on your specific circumstances. Speaking with a trusted disability lawyer may be the start of finding your solution.
Types of Sleep Disorders
While insomnia is the most common and well-known sleep disorder, it is not the only one.
Some other common sleep disorders include:
- Sleep apnea;
- Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA);
- Restless Legs Syndrome; and
- REM sleep behavior disorder.
Getting treatment for your sleep disorder depends greatly on an accurate and thorough exam leading to a diagnosis. Each of these types of sleep disorders have different causes and different treatment options. Getting back to work often requires an intense investigation into the cause of and solution to your specific sleep disorder.
Symptoms of Insomnia
All sleep disorders share some symptoms, including:
- Inability to fall or stay asleep;
- Waking up frequently;
- Not feeling rested;
- Extreme fatigue during the day;
- Focus, concentration and decreased executive functioning
- Inability to concentrate;
- Memory loss;
- Persistent headaches;
- Stomach aches; and
Treating insomnia and other sleep disorders often requires long periods of medical evaluations and testing, including overnight and repeated sleep studies, followed by CPAP use and medications. Most sleep disorders have variable causes. Finding the root cause of your insomnia is vital to not only getting a good night’s sleep, but also to getting back to work.
Long-Term Health Effects of Sleep Disorders
Not getting enough sleep for one night may leave you feeling tired, but it likely won’t change your life. When sleep disorders move into your life and cause a regular and disturbing disruption to your sleep cycle, that’s when you will experience negative consequences due to your lack of or poor quality sleep.
When you do not sleep well, you are less able to focus properly and often you may be unable to react quickly to hazards. Driving when you have not slept well, for example may impair your ability to react to situations in the same way that driving legally drunk does. Fatigue is a common cause of many car accidents. Ensuring that you get proper restorative sleep will keep you and everyone around you safer.
When you do not sleep well, you are more likely to suffer from depression. Insomnia and depression feed off one another because sleep loss often makes you more anxious, and depression makes it harder to fall asleep.
Serious Health Problems
More than anything, sleep disorders can cause serious health problems. This snowball effect often leads to:
- Heart attack;
- Heart disease;
- Heart failure;
- Irregular heartbeat;
- High blood pressure;
- Stroke; and
Sleep is vital to your overall health so it makes sense that not sleeping well can cause a ripple effect of health and lifestyle problems. That’s why you need a medical professional to help you diagnose, treat and overcome your sleep disorder before it develops into a serious disabling problem.
You know that your lack of sleep may hurt your ability to perform the important duties of your occupation with reasonable continuity and in the usual and customary way you performed your work before the problem. Unfortunately, proving the extent and severity of your restrictions and limitations can be difficult without skilled disability counsel.
To qualify for private or employer- sponsored disability benefits, you must meet certain criteria to show that you cannot perform the important duties of your occupation because of your lack of sleep.
- You can meet the definition of disability by using insomnia, objective testing with sleep studies, CPAP machine usage and medications.
- You may meet the definition of disability because you have additional health conditions caused by your insomnia or other sleep disorders.
- You may meet the definition of disability because your insomnia has caused heart, blood pressure, stroke or depression issues that co-morbidly disable you.
Clearly, insomnia is not by itself a recognized disability but obstructive sleep apnea can be. That’s why you need an experienced disability attorney to help you through the legal process. To ensure that you receive the individual or group disability benefits to which you are entitled, your lawyer will examine your situation and help you apply for disability benefits by providing full and comprehensive medical information and evidence that proves your policy covers your disability.
Steps to Securing Private or Group Disability Insurance Benefits
Once you and your lawyer have determined that you qualify under your policy’s disability definition, then you begin the paperwork. This is often time consuming and complicated. Your insurance provider wants to deny your claim. The sole goal of insurance companies is to retain as much of your premium paid as possible. Accepting your disability application without a fight would severely cut into the disability insurance company’s profits.
Working with a skilled disability insurance lawyer is your best chance for overcoming this challenge. Together with your long-term disability legal representative, you can build and submit a solid claim for your disability benefits.
Gather Medical Evidence
The first step to ensure that your sleep disorder is a covered disability is to outline the onset of the medical problems and who has treated, tested and medicated you. Your lawyer will review all your medical records and may even speak with medical experts to determine how your insomnia causes a ripple effect on your health. By compiling all of this medical, financial and occupational information, your lawyer can build a strong legal claim to get you paid.
File a Disability Insurance Claim
Many individuals believe that they can file a claim on their own. Unfortunately, that often results in a swift denial from the provider. Fatal claimant claim mistakes are often uncorrectable so be very careful. Denials may happen because you filed your claim too late or failed to provide sufficient evidence of why you were covered or you failed to provide restrictions and limitations showing why mentally and physically you are unable to do your occupation. With a knowledgeable disability attorney at your side, you do not have to worry about these small but often costly mistakes.
Even with a disability lawyer guiding you through this process, the provider may still deny your disability insurance claim outright. If you have legal representation, however, your attorney can prepare for this outcome and ready your case for an immediate appeal. Remember delays in filing can cause you to miss out on potential benefits.
The type of appeal will depend on the type of disability insurance you have. If you bought an individual plan from an agent or broker, you can generally avoid an appeal and file suit against your disability insurance company.
If you have a group disability plan through your employer, you must follow a much more complicated process. Claimants often believe they can do their appeal on their own, that’s a huge mistake that will leave you without the benefits you need and deserve. Make sure you hire an experienced long-term group disability lawyer who understands ERISA law to file a comprehensive administrative appeal with your insurer and lay the groundwork for a federal ERISA lawsuit if necessary.
Partner With a Trusted Disability Lawyer
Insomnia and other sleep disorders can wreak havoc on an individuals’ health and financial well-being. The disability claims process is intentionally complicated and full of traps that may steal your benefits. An experienced disability lawyer will improve your chances of securing disability benefits so that you can get the medical attention you need and get healthy.
Speak with a disability insurance lawyer today to find out how to successfully claim disability benefits for your insomnia or other sleep disorder. Your ability to recover disability insurance benefits may depend on the legal advisor you choose, so select the right one.