Insomnia VA Rating
If you are a veteran suffering from service-related insomnia, your insomnia VA rating determines your eligibility for VA disability benefits. These benefits include coverage for medical and mental health treatments to address your symptoms and, if you receive a VA disability rating of 10 percent or higher, monthly tax-free payments to replace lost earnings that result from your condition.
In order to be eligible to apply for VA disability benefits, it is necessary that you have a current diagnosis for a condition that the VA recognizes. That condition must have been caused by an event, injury, or illness that you experienced during qualifying active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces or other covered organization. For the VA to accept your claim and provide you with an insomnia VA rating, you’ll also need to provide proof in the form of medical evidence and expert opinions that your current condition is linked to your active service. The process can take quite a bit of time, and a VA disability lawyer is extremely helpful every step of the way.
To receive the VA disability benefits you are entitled to, you’ll first need to file an application. The process can be complex and time-consuming and requires that you assemble extensive evidence to ensure that you receive an accurate insomnia VA rating. The VA disability attorneys from our law firm can help if you have had your initial claim denied and need to appeal.
An Overview of Insomnia
As explained by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), insomnia is a common sleep disorder that is experienced by a great many individuals. While it is normal to occasionally experience difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or getting good quality sleep, when this difficulty persists, you could be suffering from insomnia. A key aspect of insomnia is having the time and opportunity in the form of a good environment to have quality sleep, but being unable to do so.
Insomnia is more than simply experiencing difficulty falling asleep, and some of the most common symptoms include:
- Lying awake for a substantial amount of time prior to falling asleep
- Being able to sleep for only short periods of time
- Waking too early in the morning preventing you from getting sufficient rest
- Poor quality sleep that leads to you feeling sleepy
- Feelings of anxiety, repression, or irritability
The way in which your insomnia manifests itself will, in turn, determine its impact on your day-to-day life and your ability to work. When your service-connected insomnia is chronic and begins to impact your life, your insomnia VA rating also increases, and with it, the amount of benefits that you are eligible for.
The causes of insomnia can vary and depend upon the type of insomnia being experienced. Short-term insomnia can be a result of stress or changes to your environment or schedule, like your work. Short-term insomnia may last for a few days or weeks but resolves itself when the period of stress also ends. If you receive a 0 percent insomnia VA rating, it does not entitle you to tax-free payments–although it will be considered service connected.
Common causes of insomnia include:
- The use of drugs or medications
- Chronic or significant stress
- Various mental disorders
- Experiencing significant life changes or events, whether planned or not
- Chronic pain that is a result of other disabilities
When insomnia happens 3 or more nights weekly, continues for over 3 months, and cannot be explained by a different health problem, then your insomnia is considered chronic or long-term. Long-term insomnia can have a direct and significant impact on your lifestyle and cognitive performance due to a significant impact on your memory and concentration. In addition to mental issues, chronic insomnia can also result in an increased risk of high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
Veterans who have encountered traumatic events during their active services are particularly predisposed to insomnia and conditions that might cause it, including posttraumatic stress disorder and PTSD. It is also possible to qualify for an insomnia VA rating when your insomnia was aggravated by your active service. This is when you already had a diagnosis for insomnia prior to your active duty, and an event, injury, or illness during your active service made it worse.
Document Your Insomnia for Your Doctor and For the VA
Keeping a sleep diary and journal of your sleep habits provides helpful evidence for your healthcare professionals providing treatment and for the VA when determining your insomnia VA rating. A sleep diary keeps track of when you begin trying to go to sleep, when you go to sleep when you wake up, and also any naps that you take each day. It is also helpful to keep track of your levels of sleepiness throughout the day and activities that can impact your wakefulness like exercising or drinking alcohol or caffeine.
Your sleep diary can be an important piece of evidence for the medical professional considering your situation. They will review the event, injury, or illness during your active service that may have caused your insomnia alongside your current diagnosis of insomnia when determining if your condition is service-related. The VA then takes this medical opinion into account when deciding if you are eligible for disability benefits and at what rate.
The Impact of Insomnia on Your Sleep
Insomnia results in difficulty falling and staying asleep. This in turn reduces the amount of restorative sleep that your body experiences, which has a negative impact on your overall cognitive functioning and general health. As noted above, restorative sleep is essential, and due to a lack thereof, insomnia can lead to high blood pressure, cardiac issues, and other serious health problems.
Sleep Studies Help Diagnose Insomnia and Other Sleep Problems
If you have been experiencing difficulty falling asleep or feeling restless despite having a full night’s sleep, it is important that you undergo a sleep study to collect evidence. A sleep study is also called polysomnography, which measures how well your body sleeps and also how your body responds to sleep problems.
Sleep studies monitor and record your brain waves and also other body functions like your heart rate, breathing, as well as the oxygen levels in your blood during sleep. Sleep tests are helpful in the diagnosis of a variety of sleep disorders, including insomnia, as well as sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is when breathing issues during sleep cause multiple awakenings throughout the night that may not be noticed but result in a lack of restorative sleep. A sleep study provides you and your doctor with important evidence to incorporate into your VA disability application.
VA Disability Criteria for Insomnia
The criteria that the VA applies to insomnia are similar to those applied to mental health disabilities, and the measurement is achieved through the use of the Schedule of Ratings for Mental Health Disorders 38 CFR. The extent to which your condition impacts your daily life and ability to maintain steady employment determines what your rating percentage is. In our experience, insomnia is most often addressed as part and parcel of a PTSD or other psychiatric claim. Usually, the approach is to get the psychiatric condition service connected and use the severe insomnia as a means to achieve the highest possible rating. In other words, viewing the insomnia as symptomatic of underlying mental health issues.
VA Disability Rating Percentages for Insomnia
The VA uses the DSM-5, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition, in defining the condition of insomnia. As defined by the DSM-5, insomnia is a “dissatisfaction with sleep quantity or quality, associated with one (or more) of the following symptoms”:
- Difficulty initiating sleep
- Early awakening, including the inability to get back to sleep
- Experiencing difficulty maintaining sleep as a result of frequent awakenings
- Problems falling back asleep following awakenings
It is necessary that your insomnia is not caused or can be explained by another sleep disorder. Sleep apnea, for example, causes multiple awakenings that result in a lack of restorative sleep, but is generally due to physical issues with breathing as opposed to the causes of insomnia. Your insomnia must be chronic, and when these criteria are met, the VA will assign you a disability percentage based on your symptoms.
The disability percentages assigned to insomnia (based on the General Rating Formula for Mental Disorders) are:
- 0 percent – At 0 percent, you have a current diagnosis of insomnia, but your symptoms do not impact your daily life or work and do not require medication.
- 10 percent – this disability rating means that your insomnia has a mild impact on your life but is manageable and may require medication such as sleep-assisting drugs to address and improve the symptoms.
- 30 percent – 30 percent is the level at which your ability to be productive at work or maintain steady employment is impacted. 30 percent is the start of an insomnia VA rating at which you are eligible to receive compensation payments. You may experience occasional difficulty concentrating and cognitive deficits but can maintain work with proactive management of your symptoms, including the use of medication.
- 50 percent – receiving a 50 percent disability rating for insomnia as a mental health condition means your everyday life is significantly impacted by your insomnia. You are largely unable to maintain productive employment, and as a result, may be able to maintain only part-time employment even with proactive management of your condition.
- 70 percent – day-to-day life is significantly impacted by your insomnia at this rating, and you are unable to perform normal activities or work. Medication and management may allow some level of social life, but at this percentage, you could still qualify for 100 percent compensation through TIDU.
- 100 percent – a mental health condition with a 100 percent disability rating is difficult to achieve as it means that the veteran is unable to leave their home or experience day-to-day life without assistance in their home. While a single condition may not result in his rating, multiple mental health conditions can combine to reach 100 percent.
You become eligible to receive tax-free monthly payments when your disability rating is at or beyond 10 percent, generally. Under 2023 compensation rates issued by the VA, a single veteran with a 30 percent rating receives $508.05 each month. A single veteran with a 100 percent rating is eligible to receive $3,621.95 in tax-free income per month, in addition to other benefits. Receiving an accurate insomnia VA rating depends upon the quality of the evidence that you submit with your claim.
Filing an Insomnia Claim
Filing for VA disability requires, first and foremost, that you are eligible, which requires that the following are true:
- You have a current diagnosis for a current condition from a healthcare professional, whether your own or one provided through the VA
- Your current condition was caused by an event, injury, or illness that occurred during qualifying active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces, and
- You must have a medical opinion that links your current condition to your active service.
It is necessary that your discharge status was not dishonorable and that you meet certain other criteria. If you meet the general eligibility criteria for VA disability benefits, then you’ll file the general disability application and any others that are relevant to your claim.
Required Forms to File Your VA Disability Claim for Insomnia
While you may be eligible for interim medical coverage while awaiting a decision on your VA disability application, you are not able to begin collecting tax-free payments and other compensation until you are approved. To receive approval on your VA disability application, you must submit VA Form 21-526EZ, and you may submit additional supporting evidence to assist in the approval of your application.
The required forms to receive an insomnia VA rating to quality for disability benefits include:
- VA Form 21-526EZ – Application for Disability Compensation and Related Compensation Benefits – This is the primary application to determine your eligibility and coverage through VA disability, and providing enough evidence to be approved is essential to avoid being denied and having to go through a lengthy and time-consuming appeal process
- VA Form 21-4138 – Statement in Support of Claim – This form is helpful when you have additional information to include to help you receive an accurate insomnia VA rating and include your nexus letter, buddy statements, statements from coworkers and employers, and other parties who are familiar with the symptoms of your insomnia or their service-related causes
In addition to these required forms, it is also essential that you provide additional medical evidence in support of your claim linking your insomnia to your service. Statements from peers in the military and your family who might be familiar with how your condition impacts your life may also submit statements. When your insomnia has negatively impacted your work, statements from coworkers and employers can also be helpful to add to your claim.
We recommend that people file a claim for a psychiatric disability, to include insomnia.
Nexus Letters and Medical Evidence
Providing sufficient medical evidence that clearly demonstrates that your insomnia is service-connected is essential for your application to be approved. To qualify for VA disability benefits, a nexus letter is often an essential piece of evidence, which is the opinion of a medical professional that clearly links your condition to your active service.
Buddy Statements and Other Supporting Information
Buddy statements are feedback from individuals who have direct experience with the symptoms of your insomnia, submitted through VA Form 21-4138 linked above. These may come from family members who witness your day-to-day life and observe the impact of your insomnia on your ability to function. These letters can also be the feedback of coworkers and employers who have witnessed firsthand the impact of your insomnia on your productivity at work.
Determining what information to include with your VA disability application can be difficult, and working with a VA disability attorney from our VA benefits law firm can help to ensure the success of your initial application or appeal, as necessary.
Impact of Insomnia on Daily Life and Overall Well-Being
Veterans suffering from insomnia can experience an overall reduction in well-being due to the cognitive deficits and behavioral outcomes that insomnia can lead to. Sleep disorders lead to both psychological and physiological problems, and it is important to seek out immediate medical attention if you are feeling the symptoms of poor sleep or insufficient restorative sleep.
An additional issue that can develop as a result of insomnia is depression. Experiencing an ongoing lack of restorative sleep has a negative impact on mental health and cognitive functioning and can lead to depression. Depression is a condition that can be secondary to service-connected insomnia.
When your primary condition of insomnia results in other problems, your VA disability percentages are added together to determine your overall disability rating.
The Negative Impact of Insomnia on Workplace Productivity
Research published by the National Institute of Health (NIH) notes that there can be a significant reduction in your workplace productivity when you suffer from insomnia. The purpose of VA disability payments is in part to cover the loss of your ability to maintain steady employment. The symptoms of chronic insomnia can impact your workplace productivity due to a lack of concentration, inability to focus, and absenteeism. Statements from your coworkers and employers can be of value in supporting your claim.
Get Help with Your Insomnia VA Rating and Your Disability Claim or Appeal
If you are a veteran experiencing insomnia and need to apply for your insomnia VA rating, if you need to add a supplemental claim for your insomnia, or if your claim has been denied, we can help. Our in-house physician and network of mental health and medical experts are on demand to generate evidence on your behalf and move forward with your claim. Our VA benefits lawyers have decades of combined experience helping Veterans like you receive an accurate rating so they can collect the benefits they deserve. To get started, call toll-free at 888-915-3843 or visit our site to schedule a free case evaluation.
What is the average VA rating for insomnia?
Insomnia is rated as a mental health disorder by the VA, and the evidence that you submit of your current diagnosis, its symptoms, and its connection to your active service will determine whether or not you are eligible. While each individual case is unique, one of the most common VA ratings that veterans receive concerning their service-related insomnia is 30 percent.
How much does VA disability pay for insomnia?
The amount that you receive in VA disability compensation depends upon your insomnia VA rating. As noted above, 30 percent is the most common. At this disability percentage, a single veteran is eligible for medical and mental health coverage through the VHA, as well as $508.05 per month in tax-free income, whereas a single veteran with a 100 percent disability rating would be eligible for $3,621.95 each month, based on 2023 rates. When you have a spouse, dependents, including children or dependent parents, and other obligations, the amount of compensation that you are eligible for may also increase once you hit the 30 percent combined rating level.
Is insomnia considered by the VA to be connected to PTSD?
The VA recognizes that insomnia may be a secondary condition to a primary condition experienced during your active service. PTSD can lead to the need for medications, which in turn can cause insomnia or aggravate pre-existing insomnia. In our experience, sleep difficulties are a very common symptom affecting our PTSD clients. To determine what VA disability benefits you may be eligible for, it is essential that you receive a thorough medical assessment of your current condition and a review of your military history and records to determine if it is service-connected.
If you have multiple disabilities, your percentage ratings are combined to determine your total disability rating. For example, if you have a 40 percent disability rating for PTSD, and a 30 percent disability rating for insomnia, your total rating is 70 percent. A VA disability rating of 70 percent can qualify you to collect compensation at the 100 percent rate through TIDU. Working with a VA disability lawyer is the best way to ensure that you receive an accurate insomnia VA rating and overall disability percentage.