Secondary Sleep Apnea VA Disability

Do you have a service-connected VA disability that you think is causing your sleep apnea?  If so, you may be able to establish sleep apnea VA disability by your sleep apnea is a secondary disability.

In my last article, I talked about how to prove that your sleep apnea should be service connected on a direct basis.  The basic idea is to show that your disability was incurred or aggravated during service.

Unfortunately, that is often difficult in sleep apnea claims for a variety of reasons.  So, you always need to consider secondary service connection as another alternative.  This article will discuss some ways to show secondary service connection for sleep apnea.

sleep apnea VA disability
You may need a doctor’s help to link your sleep apnea to another of your service connected disabilities.
Sleep Apnea VA Disability on a Secondary Basis

Sometimes, veterans cannot show that they had sleep apnea in service.  They may not have evidence of an in-service diagnosis or in-service symptoms that a doctor says were probably sleep apnea.

That may be your situation.  You may know that you really did not have symptoms attributable to sleep apnea until after your discharge from service.

So, does that mean you cannot receive VA disability for sleep apnea?  Not so fast.  Don’t forget about secondary service connection.  A disability can be service connected on a secondary basis if it is the result of a service connected disability.

Here’s an example to illustrate how this works.  Recently, we helped a veteran who had a broken nose during service.  The break was bad enough to cause a deviated septum, which means that the bone and cartilage dividing the nasal cavity was off center.

A deviated septum condition can obstruct the nasal airway.  That obstruction can cause changes within the body that result in obstructive sleep apnea.

You would first need to make sure the deviated septum was service connected.  This should be fairly straightforward if it was the result of an in service injury.  Next, you would need a current diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea from a qualified doctor.

The veteran we helped had both of those.  But, he was missing the nexus, or link, between the service connected disability and his obstructive sleep apnea.  Through a written report from a qualified doctor (usually an ENT or neurologist in this type of case), he could prove nexus with a detailed explanation of how the deviated septum causes physiological changes in the body that causes apneas during sleep.

Remember, this is just one example.  There are many different types of injuries and disabilities that can lead to obstructive sleep apnea.  If you have a service-connected injury or disability that ultimately caused sleep apnea, your sleep apnea could potentially qualify for secondary service connection.

Medical Evidence to Prove Sleep Apnea VA Disability Is Linked to Another Service Connected Disability

While a veteran or other non-medical witnesses can say what seems obvious (i.e., there were no breathing problems during sleep before the broken nose, so it is obviously related), that is not Doctor with man and woman sufficient to prove nexus to VA.  You, as the veteran, can only report your symptoms as you know them.  You don’t have the medical qualifications to say what caused those symptoms.

That explanation must be in the form of competent medical evidence if you want to have a successful claim for VA disability for sleep apnea.  The doctor will need to explain in writing how your underlying service connected disability (the deviated septum in our example here) obstructed the nasal passages, which decreased oxygen intake and triggered the body to reflexively open the mouth to improve airflow.

The doctors also needs to explain what that does to the airway, increased resistance of airflow, and pressure changes within the body, all leading up to the cessation of breathing for brief periods.  All this is highly technical, so VA requires a medical expert’s opinion.

What You Need to Know About Sleep Apnea VA Disability and How to Prove It

The important thing for you to know is how to recognize when you may have a claim for sleep apnea VA disability and which way you need to try to prove it.  You should not try to win your claim without a medical opinion.

Likewise, it may be a good idea to at least consult with an attorney about sleep apnea VA disability.  A VA-accredited attorney can help you determine which path is your best option or whether you should pursue multiple paths to service connection.  We will talk with you about your VA claim for free.

Travis Studdard is an attorney who focuses on representing veterans in VA disability compensation claims.  He regularly writes about issues that are important to veterans and their families.

You can subscribe to his Veterans Disability channel on YouTube.

Rita BarnesRita Barnes
00:03 20 Jan 22
This is a great group of people who really care about your well being. They all treated me as though I was family and helped me with my work comp case in more ways than the average would have.Thank you Jason and Thank you Tina! For doing an awesome job.
Cortex ButlerCortex Butler
18:09 29 Dec 21
I am a Veteran of United States Air Force and was awarded my first 30% in 1996 and have been fighting for my rating for 26 years I came to Perkins and Studdard in 2019 while my mom was in a terrible incident and was given to much anesthesia and through GODS Grace she was spared her life, She is disabled since 2018 and I have been struggling with my life and issues and yet I didn’t call the law firm every 10 minutes or call being rude anytime, I mentioned this as I got to know Jessica more than just a phone call and Mr Studdard was always available when not working on other cases or in court, They always called back and Never had to do a call back, My Review is Simple in Life there peaks and valleys and it doesn’t stop because you have issues, Perkins & Studdard took my case in 2019 in 2021 I received my 100% from VA, I Was Never Rude, I was Never Promised Success, I Was Never Lied too and I was Always Treated with Respect, Friendliness, and Kindness the Real Stuff not a (Money Thing) If You want a firm that Cares about the Client and will work on your case even through a pandemic, Will not lie, will not promise anything will communicate your case and will Give you their Best ALWAYS THIS IS THE Best Law Firm for VETS HANDS DOWN Perkins and Studdard THERE IS NO OTHER 100% we had 5 calls Total Case That’s Taking Care Of Business
annetteMomma nokesannetteMomma nokes
14:29 12 Sep 16
Jason and his paralegal Lisa were on point and on top of their game when it came to handling my worker's comp. injury case. I tried going it alone and the insurance carrier pushed me around. They denied extra physical therapy. They denied injections the doctor recommended to ease my pain. When I turned my case over to Jason things turned around, QUICK. They were at all times attentive and on top of my case. I cannot recommend Jason and his staff enough. If you are hurt at work, this is the firm you want on YOUR side.
Sheila KirklinSheila Kirklin
23:11 12 May 16
Jason Perkins, was my lawyer in a workers comp. case, my case has settled now, and I am very happy for all Jason and his office hard work on my case, he was always there to help me out with any questions that I had or help I needed. Jason is a excellent lawyer and if I ever need another one I would only go to Perkins,Because I believe they would be able to help me in any situation I am in need of..
Anna PabonAnna Pabon
23:16 13 Sep 15
I recommend Perkins Law Firm. Everyone I came in contact with there was very nice. Kim was very helpful and any time I had a question she made sure I got an answer. Ann Margaret really took the time to explain things to me.

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