A If You Were Diagnosed With Sleep Apnea During Military Service:
This is the quickest path to gaining service connection. It is also the rarest. In a war zone, sleep disorders are the last thing on a soldiers mind; a veterans focus is on enemy fire and survival, not sleep studies. Many veterans are unaware they suffer from sleep apnea; all they know is, due to the rigors and demands of military service, they cant sleep, they are exhausted, and are unable to stay awake or function at 100% during the day. Still others do not report their problems as to avoid a diagnosis that might adversely affect their military career.
If you do have an in-service diagnosis of sleep apnea, and now you are disabled, you are likely well on your way to winning your claim.
So what do you do if you have sleep apnea but did not get an in-service diagnosis, or never reported it? Perhaps now, after 20 years have passed, you wish to file a disability claim for sleep apnea with VA. How do you connect your claim to your military service?
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Sleep Apnea Rating Schedule For 2020
Sleep apnea is becoming a bigger problem in the United States Armed Forces.
According to the Veterans Benefits Administration , the three types of sleep apnea lead the way in terms of service-connected respiratory disabilities.
Sleep apnea VA disability claims account for nearly 1 in 4 respiratory claims.
According to the VBA, there were over 282,300 service-connected sleep apnea claims that were awarded in 2017.
The number of VA disability ratings that are awarded for sleep apnea is on the rise, however, it still fails to address the entire issue.
The U.S. Armed Forces utilize VA disability ratings to determine the severity of sleep apnea and these types of claims are notoriously hard to receive approval.
Consequently, the VA denies the majority of sleep apnea claims.
Part of the problem is the VA has altered its rules for assigning sleep apnea disability ratings and providing benefits over the years.
Therefore, many service members are subject to misinformation or interpretation when filing a VA disability claim.
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Sleep Apnea Secondary Conditions: How To Service Connect Your Va Sleep Apnea Claim
Veterans, in this post I list more than 40+ possible sleep apnea secondary conditions so veterans can win, service-connect, and rate your sleep apnea VA claim in less time.
Many veterans attempt to service-connect sleep apnea as a primary disability condition and cant seem to figure our why the VA keeps denying your sleep apnea claim.
The main problem is that you didnt get amedical diagnosis of sleep apnea while on active duty and you never did a sleepstudy.
I can literally read the VAs denial letter now:There is no evidence in the veterans service treatment records of any sleepapnea condition or subjective complaints of sleep apnea.
Of course there isnt VA!
Because you didnt go to the doctor enough whileyou were on active duty, and furthermore, you probably didnt even know whatsleep apnea was during you service.
Youre not alone here veterans!
When I was on active duty, I had a ton of sleep issues, but I never realized those symptoms might have been due to an underlying sleep apnea condition.
I chalked it up to long work hours, stress from the job, a deployment, and various mental health issues.
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Secondary Basis Medical Conditions
Fortunately, there are several medical conditions that service members may cite on a secondary basis like:
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Traumatic Brain Injury
It is recommended that you meet with a medical professional if you have symptoms of sleep apnea.
The medical condition is serious and you may be entitled to VA disability benefits as a result.
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How Does Va Diagnose Sleep Apnea
VA requires that a sleep study be conducted before confirming a sleep apnea diagnosis.; Even if a medical professional has previously diagnosed a veteran with sleep apnea, VA will not consider this sufficient evidence without a sleep study.
Veterans who have already been granted VA disability for sleep apnea based on their service connection, but did not undergo a sleep study, will likely be required to undergo one to maintain their benefits.; On the other hand, those who have maintained a VA rating for at least 10 years do not need to partake in a sleep study as their diagnosis and disability rating are protected.
Can I Claim Sleep Apnea Disability On A Secondary Basis
Various conditions are medically linked to sleep apnea. So yes, it may be possible to claim SA as a secondary disability to an already granted service-connected condition.
For any secondary basis claim, establishing service connection requires evidence sufficient to show that:
- a current disability exists ; and
- the current disability was either: proximately caused by, or proximately aggravated by a service-connected disability.
You have been diagnosed and awarded a VA rating for service-connected asthma. To link your sleep apnea to your asthma you would do the following:
- Obtain a current sleep study-based diagnosis for sleep apnea.
- Provide evidence of nexus between the first service-connected condition and the sleep apnea. You are making the case that your sleep apnea is a secondary or residual effect of your service-connected This requires giving VA credible medical and lay evidence, with a medical statement from a qualified doctor stating how and why the sleep apnea is more likely than not a secondary disability that occurred because of the asthma.
While always important to a sleep apnea VA claim, lay evidence and witness statements alone are often not enough to gain secondary service connection.
Various conditions have been shown to have causative connection resulting in sleep apnea, such as:
- allergic rhinitis
|Asymptomatic but with documented sleep disorder breathing
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Get Your Va Disability Rating For Sleep Disturbances
Sleep disturbances can have a serious impact on every area of your life, from your relationships to your career. Getting the right VA disability rating for sleep disabilities can help get you the compensation you deserve. Talk to your doctor about getting a diagnosis and start the process of applying for VA disability.
If youd like help submitting or appealing a VA disability claim, get in touch with us at Woods and Woods, The Veterans Firm. We fight for veterans every day, and you dont pay unless we win.;Contact us today;to start getting the compensation you deserve.
Veterans’ Claims For Sleep Apnea Soar
WASHINGTON Veterans’ claims for sleep apnea a common, treatable ailment often associated with obesity and aging have spiked nearly 150% since 2009, driving compensation for the disorder likely over $1 billion per year, according to government data and interviews.
Nearly nine of 10 veterans receiving compensation are considered 50% disabled by the condition, in which breathing ceases during sleep. For a single veteran without dependents, the monthly payment is $822.15 for a disability rating of 50%.
About half of Americans who suffer from it are overweight, according to the National Institutes of Health. Aging is also a contributing factor. Untreated, sleep apnea can lead to serious health problems, including heart disease.
Veterans Affairs officials attribute the surge in claims more than 94% of them from veterans of Gulf War I or the Afghanistan and Iraq wars to greater awareness of the condition. With that awareness comes treatment and appropriate care, they say.
“Sleep apnea has become more and more known as a disease,” said Bradley Flohr, senior adviser for compensation service at the Veterans Benefits Administration. “It can be quite severe. You can die from it.”
USA TODAY first reported on rising sleep apnea claims in June 2010, when only 63,118 veterans were receiving benefits for the condition.
The rating system for all disabilities, including sleep apnea, is under review; new rules could be in place within two years, Murphy said.
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Heres Why Most Veterans Are Not Proving Sleep Apnea Is Service Connected
From 2013-2014, the VA and BVA denied VA;;benefits for sleep apnea in 76% of the appeals. ;Most Veterans are not proving sleep apnea is service connected. ;Honestly, they are just saying it.
Heres what I mean in BVA decision after BVA decision, I saw examples of;;Veterans that ;take a look at the VA Ratings Tables, see that they can get a 50%;VA;rating for sleep apnea with CPAP.
They then tell the VA that they have sleep apnea and a CPAP and hope that service connection for sleep apnea is granted.
Heck, I get an email or more a day from a Veteran that says this:
My Sleep Apnea claim;;was not granted. ;I have a diagnosis and a CPAPwhy arent they granting my claim?
Some Veterans are taking it a little further and going to the VA with this:
I have had problems breathing and sleeping since I was stationed near burn-pits in Iraq and now I have sleep apnea. ;
Even with that little bit of extra information, almost all;Veterans are still being denied service connection for sleep apnea.
Supporting Evidence For Sleep Disorder Claims
A former servicemember would need to show that they have a current diagnosis of a sleeping disorder, whether sleep apnea, insomnia, or some other sleep disturbance diagnosis, in order to qualify for disability benefits. They should include medical records and doctors notes with any sleep disorder claims to establish the severity of their condition.
It is also necessary to prove entitlement to service connection, which means establishing a relationship between a veterans sleep disorder and his or her active duty service. Service records from an applicants time on active duty may indicate an incident which caused or contributed to their disorder or any documented symptoms of sleep irregularity.
Lay statements from a veteran, spouse, or anyone else who can attest to nighttime symptoms which began on active duty can be very helpful in proving entitlement to service connection for sleep disorder claims. It is better for veterans to be over-prepared when it comes to gathering evidence, which can be made easier with the advice of an attorney from our firm.
The Vas Three Categories Of Sleep Disorders And Which One Pays Out The Most
Being a veteran can mean all kinds of problems with sleep. Some of those sleep problems might qualify for VA disability.
Do you find that, no matter how much coffee you drink, you just cant stay awake during the day? Do you lie awake at night wishing you could fall asleep or terrified to close your eyes because you have such terrible nightmares? Do you find yourself dozing off at random intervals, including at work or while driving?
If any of this sounds familiar, you may be living with a sleep disorder. Read on to learn how to get the right VA disability rating for sleep disturbances and start getting the compensation you deserve.
Three Elements Of A Successful Va Sleep Apnea Rating Claim
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Va Ratings For Disability
The VA is responsible for compensating veterans for disabilities earned during their time in the service. To determine how much money an individual will receive, they use a percentage-based rating system ranging from 0-100 using increments of 10 . VA ratings depend on the severity of a disability, which part of the body is affected, and how much of a hindrance the disability is to an individuals daily duties.
Sleep Apnea And Secondary Service Connection
Many veterans with Sleep Apnea, especially those who were diagnosed long after leaving the military, might still be eligible if medical evidence shows your Sleep Apnea is proximately due to or aggravated by another service-connected disability such as musculoskeletal conditions and/or mental health conditions.
Service connection on a secondary basis requires a showing of causation.
A showing of causation requires that the secondary disability be shown to be proximately due to, or the result of, a service-connected disability.
The first part can be satisfied with any existing medical evidence in service treatment records, VA medical records, or any private medical records.
The second part can be satisfied with a veterans existing service-connected disability rated at 0 percent or higher.
The third part can be satisfied with a;Medical Nexus Letter, aka, Independent Medical Opinion ;from a qualified medical professional.
Did you know there are more than 50 conditions that can be medically linked to cause or aggravate sleep apnea?
Why Is Sleep Apnea Considered A Disability
Awareness is on the rise, and increasing numbers of people are learning about sleep apnea and how vital it is to be treated and appropriately diagnosed. Since the patient can stop breathing anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes numerous times per hour during the sleep cycle, many are unable to perform regular work duties where they draw a paycheck.
Where Are These Changes To Va Sleep Apnea Rules
If you have been through the VA disability process before, you probably know that VA decision making;seems random with different VA personnel deciding the same types of claims very differently. ;The process is often filled with delays and errors that could be avoided.
It may surprise you to learn that the VA actually has a series of written policies on how to decide VA disability claims. ;This huge document is a playbook for VA personnel to use in deciding every type of VA claim.
That playbook is M21-1MR Adjudication Procedures Manual. ;The M21-1MR is constantly being updated in a piecemeal fashion. ;One of those most recent updates was the section dealing with the adjudication of VA sleep apnea disability claims.
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Getting A Secondary Service Connection For Sleep Apnea
It is possible to establish a connection on a secondary basis. In which case the link must be established between a previously accepted service-connected condition. A couple of conditions sleep apnea has been secondarily rated for are PTSD and asthma, for example. There are quite a few conditions that have been proven to lead to the development of sleep apnea, so this might be a good course for you to choose.
Studies have shown that there is an especially significant link between PTSD and sleep apnea. Many factors overlap in both disorders that can aggravate each other. Some of these may have begun during active duty, such as excessive sleep deprivation, hyperarousal, and chronic stress.;
These studies have shown that if PTSD increases in severity, the chances of sleep apnea increase as well. So if you have PTSD, it is recommended that you get screened for sleep apnea.;
Do I Get A Sleep Apnea Rating When Va Gives Me A Cpap
Unfortunately, VAs disability rules are not easy to understand. ;This often means that veterans are not sure whether VA is handling their claim correctly or not.
Many veterans have questions about VAs rules, and I try to answer many of those in the articles I write on this blog. ;In this article, I would like to discuss an issue that pops up quite frequently when I talk to veterans about sleep apnea.
Here is a fairly common situation. ;A doctor at a VA medical center recommends a sleep study for a veteran. ;After the sleep study, the doctor prescribes a CPAP. ;But, VA does not assign a rating.
If you have a service connected sleep apnea disability, then a CPAP would usually entitle you to a 50% rating. ;So, many veterans wonder why they do not necessarily get that rating when a VA medical center prescribes a CPAP. ;They also wonder why VA denies them when they file their claim for sleep apnea.
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