Sleep Apnea is a condition where during sleep, you temporarily stop breathing. It can arise from traumatic brain injury, obesity, or depression. It can also be the result of another injury.
Sleep Apnea is very difficult to diagnose. Many times it is not recognized until a spouse alerts the person who has it.
In order to prove it, you need a LOT of solid evidence.
It is important that you document symptoms and evidence to submit. This includes having a sleep study done, a buddy letter from your spouse, and medical records from your doctor about your symptoms. Keeping a list of your own symptoms and treatments can be beneficial evidence to submit.
If you have a breathing machine, you need to provide medical evidence that this was prescribed by the doctor. As well as a letter from your doctor stating that this device is medically necessary for your sleep apnea. No longer is it sufficient to just provide the records for a breathing machine. The VA won’t assume anything, but by providing a letter of the doctor’s opinion this will help to solidify your claim.
In the past, using a CPAP machine was the only way to get your claim approved. Now, a CPAP is just one of the available treatments.
Give the VA a timeline. Spell out when you first started having sleep problems. What caused them? What service injury caused your sleep apnea? Medical evidence which proves how it is related to military service. This can come from your psychologist’s DBQ. And very important, how sleep apnea affects your day to day life.
According to the Title 38, section 4.97 of the Department of Veteran Affairs’ rating schedule, sleep apnea syndromes (obstructive, central, mixed) are rated according to the following:
- 100% – Chronic respiratory failure with carbon dioxide retention, or cor pulmonale, or requires a tracheostomy.
- 50% – Requires use of breathing device Persistent day-time hypersomnolence
- 30% – Persistent day-time hypersomnolence
- 0% – Asymptomatic but with documented sleep disorder breathing
By providing your medical records and relating it to a service-connected injury, this will show the VA how the injury and the sleep apnea are related.
As with everything in the VA, there is a chart which quantifies the degree of your sleep apnea. Visit the VA’s website, under the respiratory tab, to find an estimate of what your compensation will be. If all else fails, and you still need help figuring out how to get your sleep apnea claim approved, send us an email. We can file your claim for you!