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.
Va Disability Conditions Secondary To Sleep Apnea
Berry LawMental Health
Active duty military members have been shown to be more susceptible to sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea. The causes of sleep apnea in military members and Veterans can be related to toxin exposure , trauma, both physical and mental, weight gain secondary to disabilities that prevent exercise, among other things.
We know that sleep apnea can be caused or related to other conditions common to Veterans, but what about the conditions sleep apnea causes? Can a Veteran who is service connected for sleep apnea file a claim for other secondary conditions? The answer is yes, and we will discuss some of the conditions caused by sleep apnea below:
Sleep Apnea Va Disability Benefits For Veterans
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Complications From Sleep Apnea
Although many people are unaware of their sleep apnea, some people have severe cases where they are constantly being awakened by their breathing disruptions and get very little sleep. Even when people with sleep apnea aren’t aware of their disrupted sleep, they often are very tired during the day. People with sleep apnea also may feel irritable and depressed and have headaches in the morning.
But sleep apnea can be much more serious than loud snoring and feeling tired. When you stop breathing during an episode of sleep apnea, the oxygen levels in your blood decrease . This fluctuation in oxygen levels can lead to a condition called pulmonary vascular hypertension , which can lead to an enlarged heart and heart failure.
Tip #3 To Your C& p Exam For Sleep Apnea Secondary To Ptsd: Think Outside The Box
Remember, a showing of causation requires only that the secondary disability be proximately due to, or the result of a previous condition. This means that the condition itself does NOT have to be shown to be the main cause! It simply needs to be connected, which can be done through the side effects of your PTSD condition.
In other words, it is possible to connect your sleep apnea to medications you may be taking for PTSD or other conditions you may have suffered as a result of PTSD .
Side effects from meds can be your nexus
By becoming aware of these other pathways to score a nexus between sleep apnea and PTSD, you will have even more knowledge to bring into your C& P exam! And if youd like more information on how to think outside the box, check out this article HERE.
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It’s Possible A Va Disability Attorney Can Help You Obtain Benefits For Sleep Apnea
Some veteran disabilities are more obvious than others. It is easy for an outsider to understand that an amputation or a head injury was the direct result of a soldiers sacrifices for our country, but other aftereffects of serving in the military are more difficult to understand. One of these afflictions is sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is a breathing disorder in which breaths are missed during sleep, causing a lack of oxygen to the brain and disturbing sleep problems. Sleep apnea has been linked with high blood pressure, heart problems, fatigue, headaches, snoring, daytime drowsiness, and memory problems. While sleep apnea can be caused by obesity, age, or a deviated septum, medical experts believe that sleep apnea can also be caused by long-term exposure to dust, chemicals, and other environments that military men are often exposed to.
Statistics say that up to 20 percent of United States veterans suffer from sleep apnea, while only about five percent of the general population has been diagnosed with the sleep condition. In 2010, over 60,000 veterans applied for disability benefits for their sleep apnea condition. Many predict this number will only go up, both as older veterans age and as more men and women come home from serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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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Sleep Apnea As A Secondary Va Claim
Service connection on a secondary basis requiresa showing of causation.
A showing of causation requires that thesecondary disability be shown to be proximately caused by or proximatelyaggravated by another service-connected disability.
The first part can be satisfied with anyexisting medical evidence in service treatment records, VA medical records, orany private medical records.
The second part can be satisfied with aveterans existing service-connected disability rated at 0 percent or higher.
The third part can be satisfied with a medicalnexus letter from a qualified medical professional.
Did you know there are more than 40+ conditions that can be medically linked to cause or aggravate sleep apnea?
Eligibility For Tdiu Benefits
When fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and excessive daytime sleepiness affect a Veteran’s ability to work, they may be eligible to receive TDIU benefits. These benefits provide compensation at the 100% disability level, even if the Veteran does not qualify for a 100% rating based on schedular criteria. Receiving benefits is an acknowledgment that the service-connected disability or disabilities are serious enough to prevent a Veteran from working.
Veterans with sleep apnea who want to apply for TDIU with two or more service-connected disabilities must have a combined rating of 70% or higher with one disability that is rated 40% or more unless their condition requires frequent and extended hospital stays. To be approved for TDIU benefits, you must submit evidence that your condition leaves you unable to maintain substantially gainful employment that is suited to your education and professional skills. For example, accounting work that requires attention to detail would be difficult to perform if a lack of sleep leaves you unable to concentrate for extended periods of time.
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How Much Do Sleep Apnea Va Disability Benefits Pay Monthly
Veterans that have a service-connected disability might be eligible to receive over $2,900 a month. The Veterans Administration pays monthly compensation to veterans who can service-connect their sleep apnea.
Veterans who have had sleep studies or use a CPAP machine should consider applying for sleep apnea VA disability benefits. If you do not yet have a diagnosis of sleep apnea, you may want to begin treating with a doctor to help prove it is service-connected.
% Va Disability Sleep Apnea Rating
The next rating is the 30% disability rating, and its warranted when theres persistent daytime sleepiness. Veterans that receive a 30% VA sleep apnea rating often have hypersomnolence or hypersomnia fancy words for excessive daytime sleepiness. So if youre waking up in the middle of the night and youre not getting a good nights rest, and thats causing you to need to take several naps during the day, or not to feel well-rested, or to have other signs of constant sleepiness, then you may fit into this category.
Preparation & Medical Appointments
Step 1: Schedule an appointment with a medical professional to discuss your sleep problems and symptoms.
Step 2: Request that the VA schedule a sleep study examination for sleep apnea. Make sure the sleep test is performed at an approved clinic.
Step 3: Obtain the test results from the sleep study along with a nexus letter from a medical professional. The nexus letter contains the professional opinion that sleep apnea is related to your military service and therefore service-connected. This process is referred to as a direct service connection.
Step 4: Consider making your case more persuasive by adding a secondary basis . The secondary service connection, such as linking PTSD to sleep apnea helps add value to the claim that you deserve VA disability benefits. There are several conditions linked to sleep apnea in the military such as asthma, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and mental health conditions.
Veterans And Sleep Disorder Care
Sleep disorders are more common among returning veterans than they are in the general public. One study foundthat approximately 54% of military personnel that have served since September 11, 2001 have reported experiencing insomnia, compared to 22% reported by civilians.
There are a number of contributing factors which makes reports of insomnia and other sleep disorders more prevalent among veterans than civilians such as:
Stress of deployment and combat
Irregular work shift schedules both during deployment and at home
Difficulty adjusting to civilian life once back home
Service related injuries & illnesses including traumatic brain injury
Symptoms of PTSD
Another study published in the scientific journal SLEEP found that active duty military personnel had a high prevalence of sleep disorders and a high rate of short sleep durations. The study was based off of 725 polysomnograms conducted at the Madigan Army Medical Center in 2010. Some highlights from the study show:
85.1% had a clinically relevant sleep disorder
Mild traumatic brain injury
These numbers and statistics show just how critical it is that active duty personnel and veterans seek treatment for sleep disorders. Fortunately, with the Veterans Choice Program, finding quality care that is both timely and convenient is now easier than ever for veterans with sleep disorders.
Recommended Reading: Sleep Apnea Medicare
What Are The Types Of Sleep Apnea
There are three main types of sleep apnea.
Chronic snoring is a strong indicator of sleep apnea is worth having your health professional evaluate. Sleep apnea tends to result in sleep deprivation, so you may notice signs such as tiredness during the day, morning headaches, depression, high blood pressure, and ultimately a stroke or heart attack. Sleep apnea can also increase the likelihood of Type 2 diabetes.
With sleep apnea, its normal to wake up in the morning feeling tired despite having a full nights sleep. This can mean feeling fatigued during the day, having difficulty concentrating or even falling asleep unintentionally. Many people with sleep apnea have even reported falling asleep at the wheel of their car. Since people with sleep apnea wake up numerous times throughout the night they are unable to get the rest they need. Many times these people are not conscious that they are waking up.
Sleep apnea can occur at any age, including infants, although the chances of having sleep apnea increase with age.
How Many Veterans Have Sleep Apnea
A ton According to medical research, military veterans are FOUR TIMES more likely to have sleep apnea than the normal civilian population, a truly staggering number
The major problem for your sleep apnea VA claim, however, is that you probably were NOT diagnosed with sleep apnea on active duty.
Further compounding the issue is there seems tobe resistance among military clinics worldwide from ordering-up sleep studiesfor active duty military members.
But, maybe theres a better way toservice-connect your sleep apnea claim even if youve already filed or beendenied?
Good news, there is a better way and theres a laundry list of possible sleep apnea secondary conditions.
So, heres the opinion of VA Claims Insider: If you did NOT have a sleep study while on active duty and you did NOT get a diagnosis of sleep apnea on active duty, you should attempt to service connect your sleep apnea VA claim secondary to another service-connected disability rated at 0 percent or higher.
Quick note: You MUST have a medical diagnosis ofsleep apnea and that must be confirmed by a sleep study .
Like my comments toward the beginning of thispost, most veterans didnt realize they had sleep apnea while on active duty.
BUT, you must act now, and you must get a sleepstudy from a VA doctor or a private doctor.
Secret hack: You can also order a sleep studyat-home test kit if you dont want to wait for the VA or private doctor.
Okay, lets explore how you can service connect sleep apnea secondary.
Stick To A Regular Sleep Schedule
Going to bed and waking up at roughly the same times every day helps you to get the right kind of sleep. You need to experience the full cycle of deep- and lighter-stage sleep to feel well rested. A regular sleeping schedule also prevents you from getting overtired, which can make sleep apnea symptoms worse.
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.
Types Of Evidence To Submit To Help Prove The Connection
- Doctors Note, or Medical NexusIt can be helpful to have a doctor submit a letter stating that there is a causal relationship between your sleep apnea and your hypertension. Your doctor should state that they believe your hypertension is at least as likely as not caused by your sleep apnea.
- Relevant Medical RecordsRelevant medical records can help show the connection between the two conditions and prove that your hypertension is linked to your sleep apnea.
- Medical ArticlesArticles written for medical journals or other reputable sources can serve as evidence to support the causal relationship between sleep apnea and hypertension.
- Lay EvidenceLay evidence refers to statements that are written by the veteran, the veterans family, or fellow service members, which speak to the veterans medical conditions or their service. Lay evidence can help support a claim for hypertension secondary to sleep apnea, as the veteran can speak to their experience with both conditions. Importantly, however, the person writing lay evidence should only speak to what they know. This means that the veteran cannot necessarily submit a medical opinion saying that their sleep apnea directly caused their hypertension, but they can speak to how both conditions affect them.
Tip #5 For Your C& p Exam For Sleep Apnea Secondary To Ptsd: Prepare To Talk In Detail About Your Life
You are going to want to give the C& P examiner a detailed description of your life before, during, and after service.
Be ready to explain how you noticed the development of your sleep apnea after suffering from PTSD. How was your life different before and after being diagnosed with PTSD?
What was it like from the time you got PTSD to when you developed sleep apnea? Stories can be powerful ways to detail connections. Telling your story to the examiner is a great way to help them understand why you are seeking a rating for a secondary condition.
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What Else Do I Need To Know About Getting Rated For Sleep Apnea
Give the VA a detailed timeline. Spell out when you first started having sleep problems, when youve noticed them grow aggravated, and how you are currently feeling.
Next, be as specific as possible as to what caused your condition. What service injury caused your sleep apnea? Medical evidence proves how it is related to military service. This can come from your Nexus letter or DBQ.
Finally, and very importantly, describe in detail how sleep apnea affects your day to day life. This is where having buddy letters from your spouse, friends, or fellow service numbers can also be very helpful, as they can describe the difference in your life before and after the condition came to be.
Remember, proving a service connection is essential to having your claim approved. This can be difficult with sleep apnea, so be prepared to show records of an in-service injury, illness or event along with the medical nexus linking your sleep apnea to the originating occurrence. The medical nexus will be key to receive from your doctor or medical professional. They must be able to explain how the event you experienced could medically and scientifically cause your condition. This is what is referred to as the medical nexus.
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