Back in 2006, I wrote a blog post entitled “Narcolepsy as a Basis for Social Security Disability.” In that post, I noted that there is no “listing” for narcolepsy, meaning that a successful claim would have to rely on a “functional capacity” argument and that you may need more than strictly medical evidence to persuade your judge.
Recently, I received an email from a gentleman named Michael who asked for some additional information:
I have narcolepsy and even the maximum doses of medications don’t help. I keep losing jobs and will be losing my current job due to this. I do exceptionally well at my job when I feel alright, but I spend at least twenty hours of the day not functional. I’m currently telecommuting full-time and I still can’t stay awake and clear long enough each day to do my work. When I work on-site at a job, people accuse me of being an alcoholic or drug addict because I look terrible and slur my words and fall asleep several times per day. The only thing that prolongs my jobs is that when I’m feeling alright, I am sharper than most and unusually productive. So, they smell my breath and check my arms for tracks and I try to convince them that I’m just tired and that usually suffices for a while, but once again I’m losing my job. I am getting worse as I get older and I can’t maintain myself or watch my own child or regularly brush my teeth, etc. It’s a horrible situation and I’m looking at losing everything (job loss) and I don’t think I will be able to recover my finances this time because my narcolepsy is getting so bad. How could I get disability for this? What happens if a treatment comes around that works, can I get back off disability? If I can somehow start a business and hire other people to do the work in order to get off disability, would I be penalized for trying to get off disability? Even working full-time telecommuting, I get accused of being drunk or using drugs because I randomly sound drunk or on drugs even over the phone. It is so frustrating. Please advise as to what options I have, if any, and thank you for writing something up on the web about this.
Here are my thoughts: Yes, narcolepsy can be the basis for a Social Security disability claim. Please refer to my August, 2006 blog post referenced above. If a new treatment is developed, you may absolutely terminate your disability – in fact, if you return to work you are required to notify the Social Security Administration. Continue reading →