Sleep Apnea and Disability

Posted February 6, 2023 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

What is sleep apnea?

Do you snore? Are you unusually tired during the daytime and yearn to take a nap? You may have sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a common medical condition and potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts while you are sleeping. Each pause can last for a few seconds to a few minutes and can occur multiple times throughout the night. Symptoms include snoring loudly and feeling tired even after a full night’s sleep. Sleep apnea is often diagnosed with an over-night sleep study.

What is a sleep study?

A sleep study is a non-invasive, overnight exam that allows doctors to monitor you while you sleep to see what’s happening in your brain and body. For this test, you will go to a sleep lab that is set up for overnight stays—usually in a hospital or sleep center. While you sleep, an EEG monitors your sleep stages, to identify possible disruptions in the pattern of your sleep. A sleep study will also measure things such as eye movements, oxygen levels in your blood (through a sensor—there are no needles involved), heart and breathing rates, snoring, and body movements.

The data from your sleep study will usually be taken by a technologist, and later evaluated by your doctor. This may take up to two weeks, when you’ll schedule a follow up to discuss the results.

How can sleep apnea be disabling?

Each time an obstruction occurs, the oxygen circulating in our bloodstream decreases and triggers our brains to send out signals that wake us up. Waking up, even for a split second, is enough to clear the blockage and we fall back asleep. However, this brief interruption to our sleep also disrupts our natural sleep patterns. Due to this, we can feel unrested, tired, and sleepy the next day, because we didn’t get as good sleep the night before.

Physically, sleep apnea can increase your risk of falling or motor vehicle accidents, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, heart attack, stroke, atrial fibrillation, insulin resistance, cancer, and mental decline. Having sleep apnea can make these illnesses worse, which can impact your ability to perform the physical demands of your job, such as walking, standing, and lifting and carrying tasks.

Mentally, sleep apnea can leave you too tired to pay attention to your work. Being tired can impact your relationships with your co-workers and supervisors, as well as customers or the public at large. Your ability to persist through tasks and keep pace with your co-workers may be impacted negatively. Other mental conditions you may have could be exacerbated by lack of sleep, further impacting your ability to perform work tasks. Extra breaks or extra time may be required for you to perform work tasks due to your tiredness caused by your sleep apnea, and that could impact your ability to find work in a competitive work setting.

If you are regularly tired during the daytime or suspect you may have sleep apnea, discuss with your doctor steps you can take to diagnose and treat your condition. It is a serious chronic condition and if allowed to progress, can cause serious health defects. Treatment often includes lifestyle changes, such as weight loss, and the use of a breathing assistance device at night, such as a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine.

Contact our office to see if you qualify for Social Disability benefits!

By: Devon Brady of Premier Disability Services, LLC®

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO “PAY INTO SOCIAL SECURITY”?

Posted January 31, 2023 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

Social Security disability benefits are primarily broken into two types: Title II (SSDI/DIB) and Title XVI (SSI/DI). The latter isn’t employment-based. However, for this discussion, we’re dealing entirely with the former, or Title II, claims.

Title II benefits function as a form of retirement, and both your initial eligibility and your total benefits are tied to your earnings history. Specific eligibility requirements and overall benefits calculations are outside the scope of this discussion. However, this is the link to your paycheck, and it’s important to understand that each time you “pay into Social Security” this way, you’re impacting both your eligibility for Title II benefits as well as your overall benefits following a successful Title II claim.

First, making these payments for a full quarter (three months) earns you a “credit” toward eligibility. To be eligible, you must have accrued credits in 20 of the last 40 quarters immediately preceding your application. In other words, you must have worked and made payments across enough three-month periods to equal five out of the last 10 years immediately prior to your application date.

Second, the more you’ve paid into Social Security, the greater your benefits are likely to be following a successful Title II claim. This is because Title II functions as a form of retirement by replacing a percentage of your pre-retirement income. Generally speaking, Social Security is based on your highest 35 years of earnings, provided you still meet the eligibility requirement. Again, specifics on how the percentage is calculated are outside the scope of this conversation. However, it’s easy to see how making higher and/or additional payments could increase your future benefits following a successful Title II claim.

Please contact us for a free, no-obligation evaluation!

By: Devon Brady of Premier Disability Services, LLC®

I Was Sent an AOD Amendment Request: Now What?

Posted January 13, 2023 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

Occasionally, administrative law judges will send what’s called an “AOD Amendment Request”. Essentially, they are indicating that if you are willing to adjust your alleged onset date to a date they specify, they will award you either a partially or fully favorable decision. Both the date and whether the decision will be partially or fully favorable will be specified in the request.

            This request is optional. You may choose to proceed with your original alleged onset date, and your claim will proceed to the next stage as planned. However, before you make your decision, it’s important to understand how each option impacts your claim and your potential benefits.

            If you choose to accept the request, the largest—and likely most important—impact it will have on your benefits is a possible reduction in backpay. Whether it will result in a reduction, and if so by how much, depends on what type of benefits you applied for and the new alleged onset date (after accepted the amendment request). Partially favorable decisions will still follow the analysis below for whichever benefits would be awarded in the amendment request.

If you had a Title II (SSDI/DIB) claim for which benefits would be awarded, you will still be eligible for up to 12 months of backpay. The exact amount you receive depends on your new alleged onset date: the farther it is from your application date, the more backpay you’ll receive, up to a maximum of 12 months. Unfortunately, if your new alleged onset date isn’t prior to your application date, you won’t be eligible for backpay.

If your claim was for Title XVI (SSI/DI) benefits only, or if you are accepting an amendment request resulting in only Title XVI benefits, you will need to compare your original application date with your new alleged onset date. Title XVI claims are only eligible for benefits beginning on their application date. However, if your new alleged onset date falls after your original application date, benefits will begin as of your new alleged onset date.

If you accept the amendment request, a decision will be rendered, and then the Social Security Administration will contact you to collect any necessary details and arrange payment. However, if you deny the amendment request, your claim will proceed to the next stage as planned, whether that’s the initial hearing or, if an unfavorable decision was received, an appeal. Denials simply communicate that you feel confident the medical evidence supports a disabled finding as of the original alleged onset date.

Regardless of your decision, you should communicate it as soon as possible to ensure you don’t exceed any filing deadlines. If you have legal representation, you should inform them of your decision first, even if you’re planning to deny the request. Beyond that, nothing else is required!

Contact Us today for a free disability evaluation!

By: Devon Brady of Premier Disability Services, LLC®