Today’s military works in a 24-hour-a-day training and battlefield environment.
When you served, you probably got used to sleep deprivation.
But what happens if, once you leave the service, you still have trouble getting decent sleep at night?
You might have a condition known as sleep apnea, and if it came as a result of your service then the VA can help with a monthly disability benefit for service-connected sleep apnea.
Unlike some other service-connected disabilities that can have disability ratings in 10-percent increments from 0 to 100 percent, VA disability ratings for sleep apnea come in one of four ratings schedules: 0, 30, 50, and 100 percent.
Examples of each sleep apnea rating include:
To determine how much you may receive for your sleep apnea VA rating, check out our VA Disability Calculator.
Whether you are bagging groceries or re-coring a nuclear reactor, if you are employed then your employer expects you to do your job diligently and safely throughout your work day.
But what if – through no fault of your own – the focus, concentration, and sustained energy you need to hold down a steady job just are not there because your sleep apnea condition is holding you back or worse, holding you down?
In some cases, your sleep apnea VA disability claim can combine with another disability to qualify you for 100 percent disability through TDIU eligibility.
Most TDIU disability claims come from a combination of at least two service-connected disabilities. If one VA disability rating is at least 60 percent, or your combined VA disability rating is 70 percent and one of your disability ratings is at least 40 percent, then you may be eligible for TDIU benefits.
The calculation-based formula above to qualify for TDIU is not the only way.
The VA understands that sometimes a one-size-fits-all approach to calculating your VA rating for sleep apnea does not accurately or completely account for how a disability affects your ability to work.
In these circumstances, you might be eligible for TDIU even if you do not meet the criteria above. Contact us to learn more.
Because sleep apnea is a condition that happens when you are either fully asleep or maybe only half-awake, chances are good that you will be unaware of it when it occurs.
Many people learn they have sleep apnea indirectly, either through someone else who witnesses it or from experiencing its lingering symptoms upon awakening. For example, your spouse may complain of having to endure bouts of loud snoring from you, or you may wake up still feeling tired even though you devoted plenty of hours to sleep and don’t recall waking up during the night.
Snoring at night is not by itself proof that you have sleep apnea, but it is a common sign of it. Other indications that you might have a sleep apnea condition include:
Because it is a medical condition, you must have medical evidence of a sleep apnea condition to qualify for disability benefits.
The VA will require you to undergo a sleep study to see if you have a sleep apnea condition. This can be either at a medical facility, or in some cases you can do it at home.
During a sleep study at a medical facility, you will sleep while under a combination of trained medical observation and electronic monitoring of several indicators like heart rate, breathing rate, blood oxygen levels, and more.
A home-based sleep study uses remote monitoring equipment that record or transmit data from their sensors to a medical facility for evaluation.
If the results of your sleep study conclude that you suffer from sleep apnea, then the next thing you must do is to prove that this is a service-connected condition.
The way you trace a sleep apnea connection to your military service is like with other disabilities: the connection can be directly caused by your service, or it can arise as a secondary condition, or it can be an aggravation of a pre-existing condition.
For sleep apnea to be directly connected to your military service, the cause of the condition must be traceable to something that you experienced while in service.
For example, if you developed an asthma condition while serving, and that condition contributed to sleep apnea later on, that can be a direct service connection.
Another example can be if you experience a physical injury like a broken nose (deviated septum) that led to having sleep apnea when you did not have it before.
Sleep apnea often does not manifest itself right away, or during your time in service.
Sleep apnea can also happen to you indirectly as the result of another service-connected disability.
For example, if you experience a service-connected disability that restricts your mobility or contributes to the onset of a condition like diabetes or weight gain that in turn led to sleep apnea, such a connection might support the service connection requirement.
In some cases you may already have a sleep disorder that you had when you entered the service or developed during service that worsened during that time.
For example, you may have had a pre-asthmatic condition that became asthma while you were serving, or you may be undergoing therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder that includes drugs that contribute to weight gain, that in turn leads to the development of sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is a condition that can seriously and negatively affect your health, your quality of life, and your relationships with your loved ones. If you have sleep apnea as a result of serving in America’s armed forces, then you deserve the monthly VA disability compensation that is available to you.
We know that sleep apnea claims and VA rates can be frustrating, confusing, and, at times, scary to navigate.
However, the expert VA disability attorneys at Stone Rose Law are ready and willing to assist you in obtaining all the benefits you qualify for.
Have questions? Don’t hesitate to give us a call for a free consultation.