What’s My VA Sleep Apnea Disability Rating?

If you are one of the many veterans seeking VA disability compensation for sleep apnea, you have two main aspects to your claim: winning service connection for sleep apnea and obtaining the highest possible sleep apnea disability rating.  On the first point, you can read our earlier article with some basic information on sleep apnea and this other article on the basic elements needed to win service connection for sleep apnea.

sleep apnea disability rating
Your sleep apnea disability rating can range from 0-100%. Do you know what rating should apply to you?

In this article, our focus will be on how VA assigns a sleep apnea disability rating.  Once you understand the criteria VA uses, you will be better able to decide whether VA has awarded you the highest possible VA sleep apnea disability rating that you deserve under the law.

Sleep Apnea Disability Rating Criteria Are the Same for All Types of Sleep Apnea

VA uses the same sleep apnea disability rating criteria for all types of sleep apnea.  So, regardless whether you have obstructive, central, or mixed sleep apnea, your symptoms or treatment will determine your sleep apnea disability rating.  This makes sense because the symptoms associated with sleep apnea are basically the same even though the underlying causes can be different in different cases.

Your Sleep Apnea Disability Rating Can Range From 0% to 100%

Like many other disabilities in VA law, the lowest possible sleep apnea disability rating is a noncompensable evaluation of 0%.  This is the appropriate rating only those veterans who have had a sleep study that documents episodes of stopped breathing during sleep but who do not experience any symptoms as a result of those episodes.   This is not a very common rating since most people who experience these breathing stoppages suffer from other symptoms.

The next highest rating is 30%, which is based on evidence of “persistent day-time hypersomnolence.”  That is simply the medical term for ongoing sleepiness during the day.

Next, you have a 50% sleep apnea disability rating.  This is probably the most common sleep apnea disability rating since most doctors treat this sleep disturbance with CPAP machines or another breathing assistance device.  Remember, although the 50% sleep apnea disability rating mentions CPAP machines, you can use another treatment and still qualify at this rating level.  For more information on that, check out our earlier article.

Finally, you have the 100% sleep apnea disability rating.  These are much less common since they are reserved for the most severe cases of sleep apnea.  This level is warranted when certain physiological criteria are met (i.e., chronic respiratory failure with carbon dioxide retention or cor pulmonale) OR when certain radical treatment is undertaken (i.e., tracheostomy).

Where to Find the Criteria for a Sleep Apnea Disability Rating

38 C.F.R § 4.97 provides the schedule of ratings for all respiratory related diseases and disabilities.  In the subsection for Restrictive Lung Disease, you will find the sleep apnea disability rating schedule.  Here it is:

6847   Sleep Apnea Syndromes (Obstructive, Central, Mixed):
Chronic respiratory failure with carbon dioxide retention or cor pulmonale, or; requires tracheostomy 100
Requires use of breathing assistance device such as continuous airway pressure (CPAP) machine 50
Persistent day-time hypersomnolence 30
Asymptomatic but with documented sleep disorder breathing 0

As you can see, some of the levels are based on symptoms (0% and 30%) while the common 50% is based on treatment.  The 100% level can be symptoms or treatment.  Make sure the VA does not require you to prove symptoms AND treatment at the 100% level.  If you are seeking one of the treatment based ratings, you need to be aware of the VA’s new emphasis on the medical necessity of that treatment.  They have rewritten their instructions for their employees when deciding rating increases.

Getting Your Correct Sleep Apnea Disability Rating May Not Be as Simple as It Looks

You may see the above chart and want to pursue your claim on your own.  That works for some veterans and not for others.  To win, you need to know exactly what must be proven and what you need to prove it.  The VA historically has been very loathe to award service connection and high ratings for sleep apnea.  If you do decide you need some legal help with your VA disability compensation claim, you can always contact our firm for a free consultation.

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'm so thankful and grateful for all the hard work Jason, Tina and Liz did for me. They went above and beyond to get the best outcome for me. They took the to explain everything that was going on with my case again I'm so thankful grateful and happy with the outcome of my workers comp case.Adrian Adams
First off, I must say thank you again to the office of Perkins Studdard. I appreciate all the hard work and dedication your office has shown to achieve a successful and happy outcome. You have forever changed my family’s life! Also, I wanted to give a special shoutout to Jessica Hyatt for her excellent attitude, advice, and overall professionalism throughout every step of this process. This journey has finally been complete after more than a decade of being denied and almost giving up. However, two of my old coworkers advised me that the office of Perkins Studdard had also successfully helped them achieve their proper rating too. Needless to say, this has been one of my best decisions in life. I can now sleep a little better and stress free knowing I finally got what I deserved all along. Once again, thank you for everything! And shoutout to Travis Studdard, “we did it.” Respectfully, Jonathon FloresJonathon Flores
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I would like to thank the law firm of Perkins-Studdard (Travis) and his team, for performing such an outstanding job, at every possible level, during my recent situation with the VA Disability Claims . From the first time I called and spoke with Mr Studdard with an overview of my situation, until the final settlement was executed (successfully I may add), I always felt that I was in good hands with this firm. Everyone in the office, Jessica, and April were responsive, approachable, knowledgeable, good listeners, and extremely professional. Mr. Studdard was realistic of the circumstances and of the potential difficult process that would lay ahead, should I proceed. I can’t say enough about Travis, and I will always be thankful to him. Travis was committed, and he instilled a real sense of confidence during both the highs and the lows. He ultimately prevailed and the outcome was very much in my favor. Of course, each case is different on its own merits and one can never predict how things ultimately will turn out. All I know is that the settlement far exceeded my expectation. Mr. Studdard has been a blessing to me. I strongly recommend that anyone who would find themselves in a similar legal situation with the VA to contact Law Offices of Perkins Studdard for a consultation. It was a very positive experience given the circumstances. Thank you again, I shall forever be in your debt.Concetta Hogg
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