When it comes to sleep apnea, there are several types that you can qualify under. The three main types are obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea, and complex sleep apnea syndrome. Regardless of the official diagnosis, all are considered a serious medical condition. According to the Mayo Clinic, primary symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- Loud snoring
- Episodes where you do not breath when you are asleep
- Gasping for air during sleep
- Morning headaches
- Difficulty staying asleep
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Difficulty paying attention while awake
The VA considers sleep apnea a qualifying disability and rates veterans from 0%, 30% 50% and 100% after a medical diagnosis and service connection. As a Veterans Claims Expert (VCE) with VA Claims Insider, I deal with dozens of clients who suspect they have sleep apnea. I also deal with many clients who have been diagnosed with it, post-military-service and do not know how to establish a service connection for sleep apnea.
How to get rated for sleep apnea
As I tell all my clients, just having a condition does not merit a disability rating from the VA. It requires several key components, service connection, medical diagnosis, and some proof of life impact or how this disability affects you today. Who knows you best other than your spouse? Have you found yourself waking up to your wife, telling you to roll over because of your incessant snoring?
This is where the spousal letter comes into play. This can establish a life impact for a veteran. It can also play a crucial role in firmly establishing service connection as well. A spousal letter can help you if you were married during your service and your wife observed the change in you after you developed sleep apnea. Did you know that sleep apnea, has been medically proven to be a secondary to PTSD? You would know this if you were working with a VCE from VA Claims Insider!
The spousal letter should have a flow to it. It should clearly describe how he or she knows the veteran and for the length of time. Then in the spouses own words, talk about the change noticed in the veteran. These changes should include at least some of the symptoms of sleep apnea. Trust me your spouse will enjoy discussing how your snoring affects them!
This letter can be typed up on a word document, but it must be dated and signed by the spouse writing it. The VA puts a lot of merit in statements from spouses, and remember what I mentioned early, these can also be used to establish a service connection.
For example, if the veteran suffered a traumatic event while in service, and then developed the symptoms of sleep apnea, ensure that is discussed in the spousal statement.
There are several factors that lead to the onset of sleep apnea. Regardless of the cause of your sleep apnea, a signed and dated letter from your spouse can go a long way to assisting you in filing a winning claim for this disability. I always tell my clients; no VA disability claim has ever been denied because there was simply too much evidence!
Have questions? Feel free to reach out to us. Our Veterans are well versed in all VA claims, and have plenty of experience with sleep apnea claim!
Stewart Simons is apart of the VA Claims Insider Team and a retired Navy Disabled Veteran. You can contact him at [email protected]