More than 3 million people in the US deal with narcolepsy and many of them are veterans. Narcolepsy is a condition that can cause you to fall asleep at the drop of a hat. This can be super inconvenient, as you might imagine. But is narcolepsy a disability?
If you are applying for a VA Rating for narcolepsy, make sure you know what the VA is looking for. Keep reading to learn more about narcolepsy, its signs, and whether you can receive VA disability benefits.
Table of contents
- What is Narcolepsy and What are Some of the Signs?
- Is Narcolepsy a Disability?
- How Can You Qualify for Disability Benefits?
- How to Proceed With a Claim
- Get Assistance With Your Narcolepsy Claim
What is Narcolepsy and What are Some of the Signs?
Narcolepsy is a condition in which a person loses control over their sleep cycles. This often involves a person falling asleep at inopportune moments in the daytime or having their sleep rhythm thrown out of whack.
Here are some of the major signs that you’re dealing with narcolepsy.
1. You Get Frequent Sleep Attacks and Have Trouble Staying Awake
You’ve likely felt the feeling of intense drowsiness that comes about when your body is letting you know it’s time to go to bed. This usually happens after a long day of expending energy.
However, people with narcolepsy experience this heavy and intense feeling in the form of “sleep attacks” at all hours of the day. You might be going about your everyday activities when suddenly you’re overwhelmed by a huge rush of drowsiness.
When you’re chronically struggling to stay awake even after getting 8 to 10 hours of sleep, narcolepsy could be at the root cause.
2. You Suffer From Hallucinations
Hallucinations are also common for people who experience narcolepsy. You dream when your body goes into Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep.
People with narcolepsy might experience this sensation during their waking life, so these dream images and visuals happen right before their eyes. These hypnagogic hallucinations happen as you subtly slip into unconsciousness, and thus, experience the effects of a dream.
You can see why a veteran would want to seek a VA rating for excessive daytime sleepiness!
3. You Regularly Experience Sleep Paralysis
If you’ve ever experienced sleep paralysis, you know how frightening it can truly be. Many people that suffer from narcolepsy deal with sleep paralysis often.
With sleep paralysis, your body can’t move even though you’ve awakened from sleep. Being fully conscious and unable to wake your body up to move is frightening in itself. This fright is multiplied if you’re seeing images from a dream during a sleep paralysis episode.
4. You Flat-Out Fall Asleep During Activities
Falling asleep during activities is the symptom that most people associate with narcolepsy. When you immediately drift into sleep it can cause you to fall and badly hurt yourself. This can also post danger when you’re in the middle of an already dangerous activity.
Imagine how dangerous driving a car or operating a fork truck can be if you suffer from narcolepsy. This symptom alone makes narcolepsy an arduous condition to deal with.
5. Your Sleep Patterns are Erratic or Dangerous
People with narcolepsy often experience sleep patterns that are erratic or even dangerous. For example, you may have extreme insomnia that takes a toll on your health.
You might also experience some form of sleep activity, such as sleepwalking or acting out in bizarre behaviors. Sleep apnea is also a common issue that people suffering from narcolepsy deal with.
In this video, one of our certified VA disability lawyers discusses how sleep disorders can be connected to military service:
Is Narcolepsy a Disability?
Yes, the VA considers narcolepsy a disability!
This condition ranks highly on the physical ailments that can immediately make your job dangerous. The danger of falling asleep while you work can pose huge risks no matter what line of work you’re in.
However, these dangers are multiplied when your job requires you to handle heavy machinery, dangerous tools, or otherwise put your health and livelihood at risk.
It is for this reason that the office of Veteran’s Affairs classifies narcolepsy as an 80% disability.
So you might be asking, is narcolepsy a physical or mental disability?
It’s a neurological condition, so it affects the system of nerves that communicates with your brain. This compromises your sleep-wake cycles, which can have both physical and mental repercussions.
The VA rating formula for mental health conditions like PTSD, depression, and other mental health disorders is explained by one of our veterans’ disability lawyers in this video:
How Can You Qualify for Disability Benefits?
If you’re dealing with narcolepsy, you will want to take advantage of as many disability benefits as you can. This is a matter of caring for yourself financially if you aren’t able to work.
Here are some tips that will help you get the benefits that you are entitled to.
1. Get a Physician’s Diagnosis
Start by visiting the doctor for an accurate narcolepsy diagnosis. Your doctor will rule out other milder problems and will diagnose the likelihood and severity of your condition.
In most cases, your primary physician will refer you to a specialist for further review and testing.
Keep in mind that there are multiple different kinds of narcolepsy. Type 1 and Type 2 are the current versions of narcolepsy that people contend with.
With Type 1, you frequently experience daytime drowsiness due to the lack of production of certain brain hormones. This low hormone production leads to muscle weakness that can compromise your health and safety. Type 2 narcolepsy refers to a condition that is less severe and without the accompanying muscle weakness.
Going to the doctor will give you an idea of which version of narcolepsy you are dealing with.
2. Go Through Several Rounds of Treatment
If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, expect several rounds of treatment to get your sleep apnea under control. Aside from the health factors, you will also need to go through treatment to prove your VA disability case.
The office of Veteran’s Affairs says that you need to undergo an examination at a Regional Office (RO) for another doctor to validate your claim. Keep the documentation from this treatment so you can prove your case.
Here are some tips on your C&P exam from one of our VA disability lawyers.
3. Make Sure Your Condition Meets the Qualifications
To receive a disability rating, you need to prove that your condition is significant enough to prevent you from working. Your narcolepsy condition must cause at least one episode each week for you to meet the qualifications.
This makes the condition unpredictable enough to put your employment situation at risk. Verifying your eligibility will make it easier for you to move forward with your claim without any sort of setback.
4. Undergo Sleep Studies
There are several official sleep studies you can undergo that will help you with your claim. Some examples of narcolepsy sleep tests include the Multiple sleep latency test (MSLT) and Polysomnogram (PSG).
You’ll get raw data on the quality of sleep and what happens when you go through sleep cycles.
5. Figure Out Your Medical Options and Quality of Life Changes
You need to undergo treatment to validate your disability claim. There are several medications you can take to treat your narcolepsy symptoms. This could involve taking stimulants or a series of anti-depressants.
Your medical professional may also require you to cut out coffee and other forms of caffeine and other habits like smoking. They may also suggest naps and daily exercise so that you have a better handle on your body’s energy levels.
Talk to Us About Your Claim: (866) 232-5777
How to Proceed With a Claim
Once you know that your narcolepsy condition warrants a disability payout, it’s time to proceed with a claim. This requires an understanding of disability laws and the assistance of some pros.
Here are the points that will help you most:
1. Enlist the Help of a VA Disability Attorney
Hiring a disability attorney is crucial whether the case goes to court or your application goes through without setbacks. Look into the help of a disability lawyer that understands narcolepsy and the effect it can have on your livelihood.
There are several mental conditions that also make a person eligible for disability. Anxiety, depression, and PTSD are all issues that might come with benefits payouts.
These sorts of issues might also happen in conjunction with narcolepsy. Since close to 14% of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans suffer from PTSD, this is an issue worth considering.
You work with disability lawyers on a percentage basis, rather than paying upfront. When you pay a percentage, your lawyer will get paid after you receive your disability payment or settlement. The legal limit for VA disability lawyers is 30% of your back pay, but we only take 20% of your back pay. You don’t have to make any more payments, and your ongoing disability payments are all yours.
Choose an attorney that specifically works VA disability cases, rather than just social security disability cases. They’ll be more familiar with the process and can get you the payout that you need.
Having the help of someone that understands the law and the process will bode well for you.
A behind the scenes look at who works for you at Woods and Woods, The Veteran’s Firm
2. Put Together all the Evidence That You Need
Your VA disability lawyer will assist you with every portion of your case.
You and your lawyer should acquire copies of sleep tests and physicians’ diagnoses, sleep journals, genetic tests, and lists of the medications that you take. We can also acquire some expert witnesses that can speak to your condition before a panel or judge.
To qualify for VA disability benefits, your physician will need to write a nexus letter stating that your time in the service caused these symptoms.
The sooner you begin acquiring evidence the better chance you’ll have of getting a quality payout. Make the free call to ask us how to best prepare your case.
Talk to Us About Your Claim: (866) 232-5777
3. File a VA Disability Claim
Set aside some time to give us a call and answer the questions for your VA disability case. We’ll send you a complete packet with the most up-to-date forms for the VA.
You and your case manager, lawyer, and the rest of our team will go through every facet of the application to make certain that each detail is filled out correctly. In most cases, you can expect a disability claim to take several months to resolve.
You might be waiting for as long as 4 months before you experience a resolution to your case. Take the time to file a claim as early in the process as possible in order to get your benefits ASAP. It’s also important to take extra care when filling out your forms so that mistakes don’t set you back.
If there are any mistakes in your application, we want it to be on the part of the VA and not us. Any sort of setback can prolong the process and make it more difficult for you to receive the payments that you are entitled to.
4. Have Your Attorney Assist You With Any Next Steps
If you’re dealing with any sort of VA disability case, we will advise you on the best way to proceed. This might involve simply helping you through some applications and hearings.
If your claim is denied, we can also help you with an appeal. We’ll let you know the next steps and which strategies are worthwhile based on the conditions that you are dealing with.
Since you’re going to be living with the ramifications of narcolepsy for some time, choosing the best attorney is essential. We’re the professionals that you’ll need to lean on for answers and to guide you through the process for the long term.
There’s always the possibility of getting a denial, so you’ll want the help of a VA disability lawyer that can assist you through all of the twists and turns that come with the claims process.
Here one of our VA disability lawyers goes over the questions Woods and Woods, The Veteran’s Firm, is often asked about veterans’ disability claims and appeals.
5. Understand the Law and How it Applies to These Claims
There generally isn’t a statute of limitations with veteran’s disability cases. However, you’re more likely to recoup costs when you file as quickly as this becomes a medical issue for you.
Speaking to your attorney regularly will help you get to know this area of law and what changes might affect your payments at a later date. You’ll need to always look at the big picture so that you can get a payout that takes care of your lifestyle.
Get Assistance With Your Narcolepsy Claim
There are no two ways about it — narcolepsy is a scary condition to live with. On top of the physical factors, you will also have to deal with the potential that you can’t work and earn a living in the way that you used to.
If you ever feel like you need legal representation for this kind of situation, we’re the law firm that you should touch base with. We work on disability claims and VA benefits appeals every day.
Our attorneys have years of experience and can assist you with any kind of claim you have.
Fill out our online form or call us toll-free at (866) 232-5777.