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The Connection

Veterans Administration Disability Benefits

Obstructive Sleep Apnea  


The Ratings
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%

Unless the veteran has a solid diagnosis of OSA while on active duty,

the OSA condition may be impossible to claim as service connected.

Snoring may be a sign of OSA or it may not. OSA is a serious health condition 

and more information is brought into our knowledge banks every day. To be

awarded a benefit for OSA will require a medical record that  supports your claim

that you had OSA during your military service.

A statement from your spouse or a buddy isn't likely to carry any weight. If your OSA

has been diagnosed well after your military service has ended but you've heard how

lucrative the benefit is (50% if you use a CPAP) you should think long and hard

before you apply for the award. If you were a chronic heavy snorer while on

active duty, can you document that? Did you ever make a sick call because of chronic

daytime sleepiness? Have you ever been at fault in an accident where you fell asleep

at the wheel of your vehicle? During any hospitalization or surgical treatment,

did a health care provider make a note to your record about your

airway obstruction or a breathing problem during anesthesia?
Once you're sure that you can prove your case, you may want to file that claim.

If you don't believe that you have the evidence you'll need, consider delaying any action

while you attempt to have a nexus letter written. That could require a formal IME that you'll

pay for out of your own pocket.If you're a heavy snorer today, whether or not you are able

to make a service connection and receive a VA benefit, get a sleep study done.

Sleep studies are now available for you to have it all done in the privacy of your own

bedroom. You no longer must spend a night in a sleep can take a

small piece of equipment home (a headband sort of arrangement) and wear it to bed.

When you return it to your doctor the data gathered will be analyzed for a diagnosis.

Using a CPAP may reduce the incidence of adult onset diabetes,  heart disease,

strokes and many other of the conditions that come to us as we age.

Not only that...the daytime sleepiness you experience from the lack of a

good nights sleep will be much less severe.Medicare and most

insurers will pay for the home sleep study and the CPAP you may need afterwards.

It's well worth your time.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea Is Elevated

in Veterans With PTSD 

Do you have a rating for PTSD? Do you also have a positive diagnosis of OSA?

Do you use a CPAP?
You may be eligible for OSA service connected benefits as a secondary condition

even if you don't have a service medical record of OSA.
Consider that many of the medications that are used to treat sleep disturbances

or mental health conditions may have an effect on your sleep patterns. If your OSA

was diagnosed after you started taking medicines to aid your sleep or to treat some

mental health conditions, you might want to consider filing for OSA as secondary

to the service connected PTSD.
Before you decide to do that, review the side effects of the medicines and

be ready to offer a sound reasoning for your claim. Once you're sure that the

medicines you take cause or aggravate your OSA, file for the appropriate benefit.
CPAP Therapy Reduces Nightmares in Veterans With PTSD and Sleep Apnea 
A new study suggests that CPAP therapy reduces nightmares in

veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
Results show that the mean number of nightmares per week fell

significantly with CPAP use, and reduced nightmare frequency

after starting CPAP was best predicted by CPAP compliance. 

Filing For OSA as a Secondary Condition 

Heavy, oxygen depleting snoring may be something you knew about long ago.

Your spouse may have complained. Your buddies may have commented on

your heavy snoring while you were in your bunk.
You may have suffered overwhelming daytime sleepiness for years.
Now, how do you convince VA that the OSA had its origin while you were on active duty?

Sometimes, you can't.
Maybe your OSA didn't manifest on active duty. Maybe the condition crept up on

you as you were treated for other maladies like diabetes or PTSD.
No matter what your history is, it's worth considering whether or not you should file

a claim for OSA. If you left the service 20 years ago and you've

been in relatively good health

but gained weight over the years and now you snore,

you probably aren't service

connected. If the medicine you take for your PTSD or any other condition

contributes to your snoring and gasping for breath as

you sleep, you may have a legitimate claim.

No matter what the basis of the claim,

service connection for OSA is complex.

You have to use precise language. For example, if you claim OSA as secondary to

PTSD, you'll probably lose. If you claim OSA as secondary to the soporific effects of

the medicines that doctors prescribe for your PTSD and you provide evidence that the

medicine you take can cause, contribute to or aggravate OSA, you have a good claim.
Read the BVA appeals we'll list for you here. Learn from the mistakes and triumphs of others.

Avoid the errors and duplicate the good work of those who have gone before you.
Service connection for obstructive sleep apnea, claimed as secondary to

service-connected PTSD, is denied. "the most persuasive medical

opinion evidence weighs against the claim"
The appeal for service connection for obstructive sleep apnea, as secondary to

diabetes mellitus, is granted.    "Resolving all doubt in favor of the Veteran, as is

required by law, the Board finds that the Veteran's obstructive sleep apnea is

aggravated by his service-connected diabetes mellitus. As such, the Board

concludes that the Veteran's claim for entitlement to service connection for

obstructive sleep apnea, as secondary to his service-connected diabetes mellitus,

is warranted. Hanson v. Derwinski, 1 Vet. App. 512 (1991)."

Service connection for sleep apnea, to include as secondary to a service-connected

disability is denied. 
Service connection for sleep apnea is warranted. The appeal is granted.
Entitlement to service connection for sleep apnea, claimed as secondary to service-

connected PTSD, is denied.
Search for more cases here.   Enter key words and search through recent years.

Key words may be granted, apnea, OSA, PTSD, secondary, denied, and so on.

Prepare to spend hours at this task.
Nobody will do this for you. If you want to prevail, you must do it yourself.

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Things You'll Need

Mail your forms, documents
and evidence here...
Department of Veterans Affairs
Claims Intake Center
PO Box 5235
Janesville, WI 53547-5235

Toll Free Fax: 844-822-5246

We recommend that you mail a copy
and then fax a copy!  Yes, it's twice the
work but maybe VA will only lose one
and the other will be processed.
Remember: Use Certified Mail!

Forms to File Claims

VA Form 21-526EZ
Disability Service Connection
Secondary Service Connection

IncreasedDisability Compensation

Temporary Total Disability Rating
 Individual Unemployability
Compensation under 38 U.S.C. 1151
 Special Monthly Compensation
Specially Adapted Housing

Special Home Adaptation

Automobile Allowance/Adaptive Equipment
Benefits Based on a Veteran's
Seriously Disabled Child

VA Form 21-0958 - NOD
​Notice of Disagreement

VA Form 21-534 EZ

Application for DIC, Death Pension
Change of Address​

TDIU Annual - VA Form 4140
Declaration of Status
of Dependents
VA form 21-686c

How To

How To Apply For SSDI

How To Apply For

TDIU Unemployability

How To Use

Disability Benefits Questionnaires


How To Apply For A Disability Rating

How To Apply For An Increase

to an existing rating

How To Retrieve Your

Military Personnel Records

Research Your Claim

The M21-1MR

The Schedule For Rating Disabilities

Many VA Benefits aren't.

Read why and what you

should do about

Permanent & Total (P & T)


VA Benefits for Sleep Apnea

as a service

connection to PTSD
Brett Valette, Ph.D.
Licensed Clinical Psychologist

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