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.

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
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Sheila KirklinSheila Kirklin
23:11 12 May 16
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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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