Proving Service-Connection for Sleep Apnea

sleep apnea

At one point sleep apnea was the most prevalent service-connected respiratory disability for which claims were submitted to the VA.

The rate was a staggering 22%.

Concerningly, it is also one of the conditions most rejected by the VA, as the vast majority are regularly turned down. This is because sleep apnea is abnormally difficult to prove as a disability that is service-connected. 

In recent years this trend has begun to turn around, but it is still one of the more difficult conditions to win a disability compensation claim for. Therefore you should be well prepared before submitting your claim. 

Proving Service-Connection for Sleep Apnea

The first requirement which must be met to satisfy the VA is a sleep study. Even a previous diagnosis may not be accepted by the VA without a sleep study. This is in order to be officially diagnosed.

Once diagnosed the more difficult step is required, which is proving the service-connection of the condition. Sleep apnea can develop for a number of reasons, meaning it can be very hard to pinpoint the exact cause. The VA is also wary of the fact that the sleep apnea may well have been a condition suffered by the veteran before their time in the military. 

Finally, sleep apnea is a complex condition that can present itself differently in the case of each veteran. 

Therefore, records of an in-service injury, illness or other events that could have caused the sleep apnea condition are essential. Along with the record of the potential cause must also be a proven medical link between sleep apnea and the occurrence. This is what is called the Nexus.

Along with a direct Nexus, it is also possible to win a sleep apnea claim by claiming it as a secondary condition. For instance, often sleep apnea presents itself in those who have been suffering from PTSD.

Sleep Apnea Mistakes to Avoid

The biggest mistake most veterans make in their sleep apnea claims is in expecting the VA to take them at their word. This means they make their claim without providing much proof. This mistake has led to as much as 76% of sleep apnea claims being rejected (as recently as 2014). 

Veterans with CPAP machines have often fallen into the trap of believing that their use of the CPAP will be enough to qualify their claim with the VA. However, this has been thoroughly disproven. 

Therefore, because the VA is particularly strict with claims regarding sleep apnea, it is highly recommended that you file your claim with as much evidence as you can obtain.

Don’t make the mistake so many other veterans have. 

Sleep Apnea Secondary Claims

While sleep apnea on its own can be difficult to connect, you have the option of connecting it to another condition already claimed.

By showing that the sleep apnea was “proximately caused” or “proximately aggravated by” another service-connected disability you have a better chance of building your claim.

To find the definitive guide for service-connecting sleep apnea, check it out here. Then, watch this video of a former C&P examiner revealing her tips for getting your sleep apnea service-connected!

A former C&P examiner reveals service-connecting sleep apnea claims!

Preparing to Win with the VA

The best way to receive a VA disability compensation rating for sleep apnea is to provide the following information along with your claim:

  • Lay AND Medical evidence pointing to the time when the veteran first began suffering from sleep apnea
  • The proper medical explanation of the origin of the veteran’s sleep apnea
  • Lay AND Medical detailing of the symptoms experienced from sleep apnea affecting the veteran since the onset of the condition in the service until the present day


While the VA has begun to show a greater understanding of sleep apnea in veterans, the hard truth is that the VA has still not proven itself to accept the full range of how sleep apnea can manifest. 

Because of this all veterans hoping to receive a disability compensation rating from the VA should take the responsibility of connecting the dots for the claim themselves. 

While proving service-connection for sleep apnea claim accepted is no longer as difficult as it once was, it still is wise to not take your chances and get it right the first time. 

Make sure to have your sleep study done. Then present the proper records for service connection with a professional opinion on the Nexus of the sleep apnea. By doing this your claim will have the best chance possible.

Many civilian doctors have NO CLUE what a Nexus letter is or the importance of it! Need help claiming this crucial part of your claim? The VA Claims Medical Team specializes in this, sign up here to take the first step in your VA claim! See you on the inside!

📣 Want to help even more Veterans? Please CLICK AN ICON ABOVE and "SHARE" this post on Social Media! Thank You! 🚀


Hi Veterans, how would you like to learn 3 VA disability claim SECRETS from actual VA Rating Officials, aka, the people who determine your final VA rating?

Brian Reese here, USAF 100% disabled veteran, and founder of VA Claims Insider.

Part of the reason we call ourselves VA Claims “INSIDER” is because we get access to information that nobody else does…

In my brand-new 30-minute video training you’ll hear from “Actual VA Raters Who Reveal 3 VA Claim SECRETS (Learn What the VA Doesn’t Want You to Know…)”

Are you finally ready to get the VA disability rating and compensation YOU deserve?

Enter your email address below for immediate FREE access to the training:

Recent Posts

Follow Us

Easy VA Claims to Win!

How to File a Claim on (step-by-step)!

How to Get a 100 Percent VA Rating (if deserved)!

Dear Veteran, here’s the brutal truth about VA disability claims:

According to our data, 8/10 (80%) of veterans reading this message right now are underrated by the VA…

This means you do NOT currently have the VA disability rating and compensation YOU deserve, and you could be missing out on thousands of dollars of tax-free compensation and benefits each month.

As a fellow disabled Veteran this is shameful and I’m on a mission to change it.

Brian Reese here, Air Force service-disabled Veteran and Founder @ VA Claims Insider.

Since 2016, VA Claims Insider has helped thousands of Veterans just like you get the VA rating and compensation they deserve in less time.

If accepted into our ELITE membership program, you’ll get free up-front access and permission to use $13,119 worth of proprietary VA claim resources, including access to our network of independent medical professionals for medical examinations, disability evaluations, and credible Medical Nexus Letters, which could help you get a HIGHER VA rating in LESS time.

It’s FREE to get started, so click “Go Elite Now” below to complete our 3-step intake process.

STEP #1: Complete Basic Information
STEP #2: Sign Members Agreement
STEP #3: Join the Mastermind Group

If you’re stuck, frustrated, underrated, and currently rated between 0%-90%, VA Claims Insider Elite is for you!

Click “Go Elite Now” below to get started today and a member of our team will be in touch within minutes.

*Website Disclaimer*

VA Claims Insider, LLC is NOT an accredited agent, VSO, attorney, or entity recognized by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and is not affiliated with the VA in any way. VA Claims Insider, LLC does NOT assist veterans with the preparation, presentation, and prosecution of VA disability claims for VA benefits. Veterans shall prepare and file their own claim or work with an accredited representative, many of which offer services for FREE. Veterans may search for and appoint an accredited VSO by clicking HERE. Veterans may also search and find Accredited Attorneys and Claims Agents by clicking HERE. By using this website or VA Claims Insider, LLC’s Mastery or Elite program, you acknowledge that there are completely FREE services available to assist veterans with VA disability claims for VA benefits. Veterans always have the option to utilize the free services provided by entities such as National Service Organizations (e.g., DAV, VFW, AMVETS, American Legion, among many others), Service Organizations, State Sponsored Veteran Service Officers, and/or the paid services of VA accredited agents or attorneys. Utilization of VA Claims Insider, LLC’s website or services is NOT required to submit a claim for VA disability benefits, and you may achieve a positive VA disability claim outcome with these other free or paid organizations. Information listed on this website, including but not limited to, success percentages, disability rating increases, and processing timelines are averages and not specific to any one claim. VA Claims Insider, LLC MAKES NO GUARANTEE OF RESULTS BY USING THIS WEBSITE OR OUR SERVICES, AND YOUR INDIVIDUAL RESULTS MAY VARY. Under no circumstances does VA Claims Insider, LLC, provide medical or legal advice. This website is solely for marketing purposes and contains no medical or legal advice. The VA Claims Insider® name and logo are registered trademarks of VA Claims Insider, LLC.