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Is Narcolepsy a Disability?


Narcolepsy is a disorder that causes the sufferer to frequently become very drowsy and even unintentionally fall asleep. Those with narcolepsy often have trouble focusing while they are at work, at school, and can even fall asleep while driving. Because this condition significantly affects the sufferer’s daily life, many patients wonder if their condition is considered a disability.

Is Narcolepsy Recognized as a Disability?

Currently, there is no available cure for narcolepsy. The severity of this disorder varies from case to case, and is treated with a number of medicines, therapies, and lifestyle changes. These medications and therapies include depression medications, stimulants, and light therapies. Many narcoleptic individuals must also take frequent naps throughout the day, which can make it difficult to complete daily activities. Because there is no available cure and the effects of narcolepsy are so inhibiting, it is legally considered a disability.

Can Those Suffering From a Narcoleptic Disability Hold a Job?

Most narcoleptic individuals do not spontaneously fall asleep throughout the day. However, they do commonly feel extremely tired and may find it difficult to function normally. Even while using medicines and other treatments, some sufferers may have trouble keeping up with other workers. Fortunately, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers must try to work with and accommodate disabled employees. Many employers will allow narcoleptic workers to take naps throughout their workday and/or accommodate them in other ways. This makes it possible for many narcoleptic individuals to have jobs and lead a reasonably normal life.

Do Sufferers Qualify for Social Security or Other Aid Because of Their Disability?

In severe cases, a narcoleptic individual will not be able to hold down a job. This may be because of overwhelming drowsiness, uncontrollable sleep spells, or because they are not responding to treatment. Because narcolepsy is considered a disability, these individuals may qualify for Social Security benefits or other programs, like a Supplemental Security Income program. These programs make sure that individuals suffering from severe narcolepsy are financially supported, in the case that employment is impossible.



“Narcolepsy Information Page: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).” National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Nov. 2010.

“Living with narcolepsy.” National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Nov. 2010.

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