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Sleep apnea has become a serious medical problem in our nation. Many individuals are affected ranging from young people trying to make a living for a family to the elderly. Doctors often simply prescribe sleep medications which generally do not work very well or cause serious side effects.  Inability to have a good night’s sleep can cause daytime fatigue, poor concentration,depression and decreased inability to perform daily activities. 

There are two types of sleep apnea: obstructive and central.

In obstructive sleep apnea the tissues and muscles in the back of the throat collapse or relax which results in your airway narrowing as you breathe causing less oxygen to be present in your blood. A bed partner may notice that you might make a snoring or gasping type sound followed by no sign of breathing for 20 to 30 seconds. This pattern of breathing is repeated throughout the night which interferes with restful sleep causing you to feel tired and sleepy the next day. Individuals who are overweight with a large neck may suffer from this conditon, but others without any obvious medical problems may also experience obstructive sleep apnea.

Central sleep apnea is not as common as as the obstructive type. It is seen in those where an area of the brain does not send the proper signals to muscles involved in breathing.This type of apnea can affect anyone, but is generally seen in those who have certain medical problems. It can also be seen in combination with  obstructive sleep apnea. It is best to see a neurologist who specializes in this disorder to diagnose and treat the condition. If the problem is not treated, one is at risk for serious medical complications such as high blood pressure, a stroke or heart problems.

Fortunately, there is treatment for this condition primarily using a CPAP machine which connects to a facial mask when going to bed.  Basically, air is forced through the narrowed portion of the back of the throat into your airway keeping it open while you sleep.  CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure. The condition requires long term treatment, but can be of great help.

However, if despite all measures, you are still suffering from symptoms of sleep deprivation causing daytime fatigue, mental fogginess and depression consideration should be given to applying for Social Security disability. Individuals seeking benefits can get application forms at the local Social Security office or forms can be obtained online at www.socialsecurity.gov. the form is entitled 3368. The phone number is 1-800-772-1213. On this form you state the reason for your disability and the date it began.

                    THE STATE DISABILITY OFFICE   

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The decision as to whether you are allowed benefits is made by disability specialists at your state disability office. They will want to obtain all medical records related to your problem which includes your physician’s progress notes and test results. This information is very important and should be obtained as soon as possible. Otherwise, a long delay in their decision is likely. Also, it is a good idea to keep a copy of these records yourself.

In addition, using a attorney who is familiar with disability cases can greatly help explaining and speeding up the entire process. Applying for Social Security disability can be a confusing and frustrating experience. A letter from your treating doctor can be of great help. He can explain how you are not responding well to treatment and how it affects your ability to do your job from a physical and psychological aspect.

I hope this information helps you in understanding the process of applying for Social Security disability and improves your chance of success.