Can I receive VA Disability for Sleep Apnea?

Can veterans receive VA disability benefits for sleep apnea? Under direct or secondary connection to their military service, the answer is yes. This article spells out the VA disability process and how the VA evaluates and rates sleep apnea claims.

The VA Disability Rating process

The VA disability process includes assigning a percentage number to each granted disability claim. This rating number, whether for an individual disability or compiled together with “VA math” to reach a combined or overall VA disability rating, determines the amount of monthly benefits.

Federal laws and regulations provide the VA guidance on assigning ratings to hundreds of types of disabilities, usually comparing your diagnosis and symptoms with these rating schedules. As discussed below, sleep apnea claims are rated as 0%, 30%, 50% or 100%.

Frequently the VA makes a ratings decision on a veteran’s claim that the veteran disagrees with. These underratings (a rating decision that appears to be lower than it should be) are frequently appealed and often successful. If you want to increase your VA disability rating, you will likely want to hire an experienced VA disability attorney to assist you.

Common Sleep Apnea issues for veterans and how the VA rates them  

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. The sleeper may not even be aware of what is happening, even if they stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times. When you have sleep apnea, the brain — and the rest of the body — may not get enough oxygen. 

There are two types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and central sleep apnea. The first is caused by a blockage of the airway, such as when the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses during sleep. The latter is caused by the brain failing to signal the muscles to breathe due to instability in the respiratory control center. Determining which you might have requires testing and a medical opinion.

VA disability claims for sleep apnea can sometimes be directly related to service, but more often, sleep apnea is claimed as a secondary condition related to another service-connected disability. Either way, the VA rates a sleep apnea claim on the same rating scale.

The VA rates sleep apnea on a range of 0% for a documented sleep disorder that is asymptomatic, 30% for persistent day-time sleepiness, 50% with the required use of a breathing device such as a CPAP machine, or 100% with chronic respiratory failure with carbon dioxide retention or cor pulmonale (abnormal enlargement of the right side of the heart); or requires tracheostomy (an incision in the windpipe).

What should you expect monetarily for Sleep Apnea? 

As of December 2022, the VA disability benefits rate amounts for a single veteran with only a sleep apnea claim above 0% would result in the following base payment amounts:

  • 30% disability rating – $467.39/mo
  • 50% disability rating – $958.44/mo
  • 100% disability rating – $3,456.30/mo

At those rating levels, a veteran is eligible for added compensation if they have a spouse, dependent children, or dependent parents. Also, if the veteran has other claims besides sleep apnea, those separate claims would be combined into an overall VA disability rating number that could result in higher payments.

Can you receive TDIU for Sleep Apnea? 

Technically, yes. The criteria for TDIU (Total Disability Individual Unemployability) is not based on any particular type of disabling condition. It’s based on the ratings level of individual and overall ratings, as well as the inability to work. Read more about TDIU claims here.

How can you appeal your VA Disability rating?

You can appeal any VA disability benefits decision within one year of the date of your decision letter. VA disability appeals sometimes are pursued multiple times until the VA gets your claim decided right. A VA disability ratings dispute is done through one of three different types of appeals. The three types are Higher Level Review, Supplemental Claim, and Board Review. The best type of appeal is a decision made between you and a VSO or experienced VA disability claim attorney.

VA claim appeals can be complicated, so don’t do it alone. 

Are you unhappy with a VA disability benefits decision for your sleep apnea? Would you like to receive a free review of your case to see if an appeal is a good choice? Veterans Law Group has helped thousands of veterans like you. Our team doesn’t charge you any fees until the money is awarded to you. Request your complimentary case review now. 

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