Veterans Disability Info Blog

Types and Causes of Sleep Apnea Impacting Veterans

If you or a loved one is suffering from sleep apnea as a result of an event, injury, or illness during qualifying active service or due to a primary service-related condition, you are eligible to receive VA disability benefits. The sleep apnea VA rating that you receive will determine whether you are eligible for VA-covered medical care, and the amount if any in tax-free monthly VA disability payment that you are eligible to receive.

Below we’ll explore what sleep apnea is, how it is caused, and how a VA disability benefits attorney can help ensure that you receive the benefits that you deserve. 

What is Sleep Apnea? 

Sleep apnea is a relatively common condition in which your breathing stops and restarts multiple times while you sleep. Sleep apnea can prevent your body from receiving enough oxygen and results in less restful sleep due to ongoing wakings throughout the night. 

Types of Sleep Apnea

There are two primary types of sleep apnea: 

  • Obstructive sleep apnea – the most common type of sleep apnea, which occurs when your upper airway is blocked repeatedly while you sleep, which reduces or stops airflow
  • Central sleep apnea – this type happens when your brain does not send sufficient signals to your body to breathe

The way in which you experience sleep apnea is influenced by a variety of factors and causes. 

Causes of Sleep Apnea

The most common type of sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea, is caused by any condition that results in a narrowing of the airway, including: 

  • Large tonsils
  • Changes in hormone levels
  • Obesity 

Central sleep apnea is caused by health conditions that impact the way in which your brain controls your airways and the chest muscles needed for breathing. 

The VA Requires a Sleep Study to Diagnose Sleep Apnea

Determining the cause/s of your sleep apnea is important to ensure that you receive an accurate sleep apnea VA rating. In proving your sleep apnea to the VA, you’ll need to provide the results of a sleep study with your application, appeal, or supplemental claim to collect VA disability benefits for your sleep apnea. To be eligible for benefits, you’ll need to establish that your sleep apnea is service related, and present proof of a current diagnosis of sleep apnea confirmed by a sleep study. 

Sleep apnea VA disability ratings are as follows:

  • 0 percent – this is when you have a documented sleep disorder, but are asymptomatic 
  • 30 percent – at this sleep apnea VA rating you experience persistent daytime hypersomnolence, or daytime sleepiness that does not improve even with enough sleeping time
  • 50 percent – you need to use a breathing assistance device, like a CPAP machine
  • 100 percent – you suffer from chronic respiratory failure with carbon dioxide retention, or need a tracheostomy 

The evidence you submit determines your rating, which in turn impacts whether you are eligible for only medical care as with 0 percent rating, or also tax-free disability payments which begin at a 10 percent VA disability rating.

The VA Recently Proposed Updated Disability Rating Schedules for Sleep Apnea

The VA in February of 2022 reported proposed changes to the VA Schedule for Rating Disabilities (VASRD), particularly concerning conditions related to auditory and respiratory body systems as well as mental disorders. The proposed changes in the VASRD take into account medical advancements in terms of the treatment of certain disabilities in addition to more current knowledge to provide for greater accuracy in the compensation of veterans.  It is our professional opinion that the proposed new changes will result in less favorable ratings for service connected sleep apnea.  

The VASRD is the scale used to determine your sleep apnea VA rating, which measures your disability on a scale of 0 to 100 percent. So long as you have a percentage of 0 percent or greater, you will qualify for VA disability medical care for any related medical treatment/s that you require. Once your VA disability rating reaches 10 percent, you qualify for tax-free monthly VA disability payments. 

The Accuracy of Your Sleep Apnea VA Rating Determines Compensation 

The amount you receive depends upon the impact that your disability has upon your day-to-day life, your ability to maintain steady gainful employment. The amount you are eligible for also varies depending on the number of dependents in your household including a spouse, and any minor children or dependent parents.  

Get Help with Your Sleep Apnea VA Rating Appeal

There is free help available from the VA and other VA-accredited sources in the filing of your initial VA disability application. They will help guide you through the applications and paperwork and also help ensure that you provide sufficient medical information in support of your service-related diagnosis. You are able to pursue your own independent medical examination and submit that evidence alongside your application to help with your VA disability rating. 

If your initial claim was denied, or if you have developed new conditions linked to your service, or conditions have worsened, a VA disability lawyer can help. If you’ve been denied, we can handle the entire appeals process on your behalf from start to finish. When a veteran already has a rated VA disability and later develops a related condition, they can file a new claim for the secondary condition to update their VA disability rating by adding the new condition. 
To discuss how we can help you collect the compensation you deserve through an accurate and complete sleep apnea VA rating, give us a call at 888-878-9350 or visit our site to schedule your free initial consultation.

We are Here to Help

If you are having trouble obtaining benefits, contact us online or at 888.878.9350 to discuss your case.