Is Sleep Apnea A Disability? (2021)

Updated March, 2021
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Sleep apnea isn't considered a disability. However, serious conditions as a result of sleep apnea generally grant instant disability qualification. These conditions include high blood pressure, heart failure, and cognitive issues. In extremely rare cases, you may be granted disability through an assessment, but this is not common.

Can I still apply for disability benefits?

Although sleep apnea itself is not a medical disability, conditions that arise as a result of sleep apnea are. Generally, to get benefits you'll need to apply for Social Security, and your sleep apnea needs to affect you in one of the following ways:

  • Chronic heart failure
  • Chronic pulmonary hypertension
  • Cognitive or behavioral issues

If you have any of these conditions as a result of your sleep apnea, you may be eligible for disability benefits. Additionally, you can take an assessment to determine your ability to work. In general, however, disability is rarely granted without one of the previously mentioned conditions.

What do I need to apply for sleep apnea disability benefits?

There are two methods when applying for disability benefits as a result of sleep apnea.

1. Take a Residual Functional Capacity assessment

If your sleep apnea hasn't resulted in any additional issues, then taking a “Residual Functional Capacity” assessment (also known as an RFC) can get you disability. The likelihood of qualifying for disability after this assessment is difficult to attain, so your best bet is to talk to your employer.

2. Medical diagnoses of an issue caused by sleep apnea

The second way to qualify for disability is to be diagnosed with a medical condition that is caused by your sleep apnea. Conditions that occur as a result of sleep apnea are severe and generally allow immediate qualification for disability. The only thing you'll need is a diagnosis from your doctor.

Should I tell people at work I have sleep apnea?

The decision to reveal your sleep apnea to your co-workers is personal and has both pros and cons. Most pros are the accommodations your employer may make to keep you healthy.


  • Healthier relationships - By letting your co-workers know you have a sleep disorder, you create an open line of communication essential for building relationships.
  • Flexibility - If possible your employer may offer a more flexible schedule to accommodate your extenuating sleep needs.
  • Shift change - If you work on a shift that makes it difficult to sleep, your employer may allow you to switch to a better shift.
  • Optimized breaks - Your employer may offer you an optimized break schedule with shorter brakes at a higher frequency.


  • Co-workers may not understand - Your co-workers may not understand the effects of sleep apnea, and it may cause resentment, especially if your employer grants special accommodations.

Can you cure your sleep apnea with a new mattress?

The short answer is no; a new mattress can't cure your sleep apnea. The good news? It can help—a lot.

One of the most overlooked changes you can make toward improving your sleep apnea continues to be a new, hypoallergenic mattress (with an adjustable base to elevate your body, like a Saatva). A new mattress not only can help you breathe better, but it serves to create a more relaxed, conducive sleep environment.

Devices, surgery, better eating, and a healthier lifestyle all contribute toward improving your sleep apnea. But if you have the money and your mattress's lifespan is teetering on 7+ years, we recommend replacing it.

The #1 Best Mattress For Sleep Apnea

Saatva is our top pick for the #1 best mattress for Sleep Apnea in 2021! They're a luxury hypoallergenic mattress shipped directly to your door (with full-service white-glove delivery). They have over 50,000 reviews and continue to be one of the most reputable, established brands in the industry (founded in 2009). Check their price, here.

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