VA Disability for Sleep Apnea: Proving Service Connection

Are you a veteran who suffers from sleep apnea?  If so, you may be eligible for VA disability for sleep apnea if you can show a nexus to your military service.  Nexus is simply a connection or series of connections linking two or more things.  Here, nexus is the connection between your service and the current diagnosis of sleep apnea.

How do you prove nexus in a sleep apnea claim?

Sleep apnea is a medically complex disorder.  In fact, there are three distinct kinds of sleep apnea – obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea, and complex sleep apnea.  We can’t possibly cover each of those and the ways to service connect all of them in this one article.  Instead, let’s focus on one type of sleep apnea claim our firm has recently worked on to illustrate just one of the ways to prove service connection of obstructive sleep apnea.

Patient laying down wearing an oxygen mask
If you are a veteran with Obstructive Sleep Apnea, you may be entitled to VA disability compensation.
VA Disability for Sleep Apnea through Direct Service Connection

One of the most straightforward ways to achieve service connection of a particular disease or disability is to show that you had that disease or disability while in service.  So, if you developed sleep apnea while in service and still carry that diagnosis, you should be granted service connection.

Sounds easy enough, right?  The problem is that many disabilities that arise in service are not actually diagnosed in service.  We see that quite often with sleep apnea claims.  While you may have been a loud snorer or had other sleep difficulties in service that are normally associated with sleep apnea, if you are like most service members you probably did not undergo a sleep study and get a formal diagnosis before your discharge from service.  Most of the time, a person just “deals with it” for many years until they eventually go to a doctor and undergo testing.  This may be 20 or 30 years after the problems started.

Lay Evidence + Medical Evidence = VA Disability for Sleep Apnea

If that is similar to your situation, how do you show that link (nexus) between what was going on with you during service and the actual diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea you now have?  With lay evidence AND medical evidence.  You will need strong lay evidence that establishes what symptoms you were having in service – loud snoring, apneas (stopped breathing) followed by gasps for oxygen, dry mouth upon waking, daytime fatigue, etc.  You will then need an expert medical opinion that shows these symptoms back then in service were probably sleep apnea even though you had not been diagnosed at the time.  If you get that, then you should be able to establish direct service connection and receive VA disability for sleep apnea.

 Many Roads to VA Disability for Sleep Apnea

If your situation is not like the one above, remember that this is only one of the ways you may be able to win VA disability for sleep apnea.  If you have central sleep apnea or complex sleep apnea, the approach will be a little different since the science is different as well.

Even if yours is obstructive sleep apnea like we discussed here, there are still other ways to service connection other than proving you had sleep apnea in service.  In my next article, I will explain another road to service connection: obstructive sleep apnea as a secondary disability.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that, no matter what the VA may tell you, the law does allow for VA disability for sleep apnea.  You will need to follow one of the paths to service connection, which will likely require lay evidence and expert medical evidence.

Unfortunately, VA does not always apply the law correctly.  Many veterans receive wrongful denials when they apply for service connection for sleep apnea.

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.

I recommend Travis for an Veteran that has been dealing with constant denial with claims. He also , cover cost for my nexus letter when I ran into financial troubles , that helped me win my case.edwin Cook
I highly recommend Travis Studdard to represent anyone looking to help with VA claims. The VA is very difficult to deal with when attempting to get benefits from service connected injuries, at least that's my experience. Travis and his team knows the VA system and the legal procedures to help you get what you deserve. Travis was kind and passionate with me throughout this process and therefore, I highly recommend this law firm to represent DAV's.Terry Hembree
Such an awesome team. They spoke to me like a person and helped me through every decision with knowledge.Kevin Collett
Highly recommend this firm. Did exactly what they said they were going to and fairly timely. The VA is sometimes extremely difficult to navigate but this took all the leg work away from me and got me the result I thought was fair.Andrew Boone
Amazing staff, very informed along with excellent communication. Within just a few weeks of work, Mr Studdard was able to make things happen that normally take years! Highly recommendJacob Sylvester
Perkins Studdard LLC is the place you need to be if you have a Workers Comp case going on! Mr. Jason Perkins and his staff get the results that you need. They work with you and fight for you.Coming from another lawyer my husband and I were really surprised and appreciated the communication and honesty and understanding throughout the entire process. My husband loves the videos because they held so much information and helped him understand what what was going on. Thank you so much for representing us!!!Deborah Tompkins
I highly recommend Jason Perkins and the Team at Perkins and Studdard. Jason did a wonderful job on my case and actually got me better results than what I was hoping for. He was always so patient with me and made sure I was understanding every process in my case. He never seemed to mind me asking questions and always gave me straightforward answers. My phone calls to him or his staff were promptly answered or returned and everyone was always so helpful, personable, and respectful. He kept me updated on all the details of my case and sent helpful videos for me to review that were very informative.Dru Vaughn
Helped me when I needed after getting hurt at work. Thank you for everything!The Knight Family
I could not have asked for a better lawyer to represent my worker comp. case. Any questions I had during the process was always answered in a timely manner. Mr. Perkins really cared about insuring that I wasn't being taken advantage of during this process and helped us reach a settlement that I feel comfortable with. I would recommend this firm to my parents or children.syndel Laber
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