Sleep Apnea in Veterans – VA Benefits Are Available

If you are a veteran and have sleep apnea, you may be entitled to VA disability benefits.  Of course, many people who have sleep apnea have not been diagnosed and don’t know that they have symptoms that are attributable to this sleep disorder.  Before you can decide whether you may have a good VA disability claim for sleep apnea, it is important to understand exactly what it is.

VA Disability for Sleep Apnea
If you are a veteran with Obstructive Sleep Apnea, you may be entitled to VA disability compensation.

What does sleep apnea do?

There are really three kinds of sleep apnea based on the cause.  All three types have a similar result – a sleep disorder resulting in the disruption of a person’s breathing during sleep.  That means the person stops breathing.  This sometimes happens hundreds of times a night and sometimes as long as a minute or longer.

When breathing stops, the brain and the rest of the body do not get the oxygen they need.  The brain then signals the body to wake up.  This awakening is a sudden, violent waking unlike usual awakening in the morning after a full night’s sleep.  In fact, the person suffering from sleep apnea often does not even realize he or she woke up during the night.

How do I know if I May Suffer from This Condition?

So, how do you begin the process of determining whether you have sleep apnea?  If your spouse or family members complain about your snoring and waking during the night, you probably want to consult with your doctor.

Although a medical professional will be the one to make an official diagnosis after a sleep study, you can do a few quick self-assessments to get started before scheduling an appointment with your doctor.  One of the simplest checklists is the American Sleep Apnea Association’s Snore Score, which asks the following questions related to the most common type, Obstructive Sleep Apnea:

  1. Are you a loud and/or regular snorer?
  2. Have you been observed to gasp or stop breathing during sleep?
  3. Do you feel tired or groggy upon awakening, or do you awaken with a headache?
  4. Are you often tired or fatigued during the wake time hours?
  5. Do you fall asleep sitting, reading, watching TV or driving?
  6. Do you often have problems with memory or concentration?

If you answer “yes” to one or more of the above questions, you may have a form of sleep apnea.

Some other self-assessments for sleep apnea are the Epworth Sleepiness Scale and the Berlin Sleep Questionnaire.

Can I receive veterans disability compensation if I Have Been Diagnosed?

There are a lot of myths about this particular form of sleep disturbance.  Many think that they cannot receive  veterans disability benefits for it.  That is simply not the case.  Many aspects of a veteran’s military service can lead to the development of this very serious condition.  Sleep apnea can also lead to a host of other medical problems and even death .  In later blogs we will discuss other aspects of sleep apnea, including the different causes and serious consequences of this sleep disorder.

Unfortunately, VA raters often fall into the trap of believing the myths surrounding sleep apnea.  That means many veterans are denied VA disability benefits that they deserve under the law.  In fact, currently only 1 out of every 4 veterans with a sleep apnea claim is granted benefits by VA.  If you are one of those 75% who have been wrongfully denied, you should consult with a qualified veterans benefits attorney.

Questions about veterans benefits

If you have any questions about possible VA benefits available for sleep apnea or another disability, Perkins Studdard has veterans disability attorneys dedicated to helping veterans and their families receive the VA benefits they deserve.  It can be helpful to talk to them about your questions. You can set up a free consultation about your claim. Simply call the phone number or complete the “Need Help” form on the right side of this page to schedule one.