We see a lot of Veterans with sleep apnea. This usually occurs in one of two circumstances. Sometimes, the Veteran will have a long history of tiredness, including during service, and will often have buddies or friends who said something like “Hey you snored a lot during service.” Believe it or not, those types of statements can be extremely helpful to a sleep apnea appeal. More commonly, sleep apnea develops after service, but is almost always accompanied by a severe mental disorder such as depression, PTSD, or anxiety.
VA Sleep Apnea Denial
VA almost always denies claims for sleep apnea on initial submission. We’ve seen dozens of VA examiner reports that all say the same thing: Either there was no diagnosis during service, or, that sleep apnea is caused by excess tissue in the throat and not caused by mental disorders. So you probably shouldn’t be surprised if you apply for it and get one of those responses. VA almost never disputes that the Veteran in fact has sleep apnea. Current technology includes sleep studies, and the results are almost indisputable. If VA denies your sleep apnea claim, it almost certainly won’t be on the basis that you don’t have sleep apnea.
Success With VA Sleep Apnea Appeals
The good news is we have experience with these claims and have helped many Veterans obtain sleep apnea benefits on either a direct (i.e. the condition arose during the time of service) or secondary (i.e. was caused by a mental disorder) basis. These benefits can be desirable. VA rates sleep apnea 50% if the Veteran was assigned to use a C-PAP machine, regardless of whether it is actually used. Veterans who are already service-connected for a mental disorder may be sitting at 70%, 80%, or 90% overall, and a 50% rating may be just what’s needed to reach 100%. It is our pleasure to try to help you get there.
Sleep Apnea Success
“R” was a Navy Veteran with around seven years of service. He was already service connected for major depression, but was denied when he filed a claim for sleep apnea secondary to his mental conditions. We were able to help him develop medical evidence to support his claim, resulting in a 50% rating for sleep apnea that generated three years of retroactive benefits.