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December 17, 2021

3 Ways to Get a VA Rating for Insomnia

Last updated on June 28, 2024

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

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In this guide, we’ll explore how to get a VA Rating for Insomnia even if you’ve already filed or been denied VA benefits in the past.

Your final VA Disability Rating for Insomnia depends upon the Frequency, Severity, and Duration of symptoms to include “HOW” those symptoms affect your “Occupational and Social Impairment.”

VA Disability for Insomnia has ratings that range from 0% to 100%, with breaks at 10%, 30%, 50%, and 70%.

However, the VA usually treats Insomnia as a “symptom” of another mental health condition, such as Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, or anxiety.

Because of this, it’s highly unlikely to receive a separate VA rating for Insomnia if you’re already rated for another mental health condition due to the avoidance of pyramiding.

Okay, let’s jump into this Insider’s Guide for getting service-connected disability for Insomnia.

Summary of Key Points

  • Insomnia VA ratings are 10%, 30%, 50%, 70%, and 100%, under CFR Title 38, Part 4, Schedule for Rating Disabilities, Diagnostic Codes (DC) for Mental Disorders. 
  • Insomnia doesn’t have its own DC under the general rating schedule and is rated analogous to other mental disorders.  
  • You can get a VA disability rating for insomnia as a direct-service connection, secondary-service connection, or as a symptom of another VA-ratable mental disorder.  
What is Insomnia in Veterans

Insomnia in Veterans

Let’s face it: veterans don’t sleep well or hardly at all.

There’s a joke in the veteran community that goes like this: “I once got 8 hours of sleep … it only took me 3 days.”

Touche. But the truth is, Insomnia is no laughing matter and can lead to all sorts of problems.

Insomnia is a sleep disorder characterized by the inability to fall asleep, stay asleep, or both. This may cause you to still feel tired all the time. Insomnia can drain your energy level, mood, health, work performance, and quality of life.

There are two primary types of insomnia:

  • Acute Insomnia, which lasts for days or weeks. It’s usually the result of stress or a traumatic event.
  • Chronic Insomnia, which lasts for a month or more. Insomnia may be the primary problem, or it may be associated with other medical conditions or medications.

Common Signs and Symptoms of Insomnia

According to the Mayo Clinic, common signs and symptoms of Insomnia include:

  • Difficulty falling asleep at night
  • Waking up during the night
  • Waking up too early
  • Not feeling well-rested after a night’s sleep
  • Daytime tiredness or sleepiness
  • Irritability or depression
  • Difficulty paying attention, focusing on tasks, or remembering things
  • Increased errors or accidents
  • Continuing to worry about sleep
VA Rating for Insomnia Basic Eligibility Criteria

VA Disability Rating for Insomnia: Basic Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for an Insomnia VA Rating, a veteran must meet three (3) criteria by law:

  • #1. Medical diagnosis of Insomnia, either acute or chronic, in a medical record (Service Treatment Records, VA medical records, or private medical records)
  • #2. Your Insomnia was caused or made worse by your active-duty military service OR by another service-connected disability for secondary service connection (“Nexus” for service connection)
  • #3. Persistent and recurring symptoms of Insomnia (“Severity of Symptoms”) to include how it affects your work, life, and social functioning

If you think you have a mental or sleep disorder such as Insomnia but don’t have a medical diagnosis, pick up the phone and call the VA mental health facility nearest you to make an appointment right away!

  • Pro Tip: If you’re trying to increase your VA rating for Insomnia, you need to prove to the VA that your symptoms are now worse and warrant the higher rating criteria by law.

The #1 best way to increase your VA rating for Insomnia is to have objective medical evidence to show your symptoms have worsened over time.

Is Insomnia a VA Disability

Is Insomnia a VA Disability?

Yes. Insomnia is a VA disability and can be rated at 0%, 10%, 30%, 50%, 70%, or 100% depending upon the Frequency, Severity, and Duration of your symptoms as well as “how” those symptoms affect your “Occupational and Social Impairment” – meaning your work, life, and social functioning.

Insomnia is a sleep disorder most often rated analogously under CFR Title 38, Part 4, Schedule for Rating Disabilities, Diagnostic Codes (DC) for Mental Disorders.

3 primary ways a veteran can get a VA disability rating for Insomnia


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How Do I Get an Insomnia VA Rating?

There are three primary ways a veteran can get a VA disability rating for Insomnia:

#1: Direct service connection for Insomnia rated analogous to mental disorders with a rating of 0%, 10%, 30%, 50%, 70%, or 100%.

#2: Secondary service connection for Insomnia rated analogous to physical disorders with a rating of 0%, 10%, 30%, 50%, 70%, or 100%. For instance, a veteran might be rated for Insomnia secondary to Tinnitus.

#3: Insomnia as a symptom of another ratable mental disorder such as PTSD, Depression, or Insomnia with a rating of 0%, 10%, 30%, 50%, 70%, or 100%. For example, a veteran could be service-connected for Combat PTSD with Insomnia. Insomnia is not rated on its own but rather as a contributing symptom to another mental health condition. This is very common because it’s difficult to differentiate symptoms of mental health across multiple diagnoses.

Filing a VA Claim for Insomnia  

To receive benefits and compensation for insomnia, you must file a VA claim for insomnia using VA Form 21-526EZ.  

While the easiest method is completing an application online, you also have the following options: 

  • By mail to: 

Department of Veterans Affairs 
Claims Intake Center 
PO Box 4444 
Janesville, WI 53547-4444 

  • By fax to: 

Inside the United States – 844-531-7818

Outside the United States – 248-524-4260. 

Before you fill out your VA claim for insomnia, ensure you have the following information to help strengthen your claim. While it’s not required, it could mean the difference between receiving a denied or winning claim.  

  • VA medical records and hospital records 
  • Private medical records and hospital reports 
  • Supporting statements  

Click here to download VA Form 21-526EZ 

How Does the VA Rate Insomnia

How the VA Rates Insomnia

The VA rates Insomnia under CFR Title 38, Part 4, Schedule for Rating Disabilities, Diagnostic Codes (DC) for Mental Disorders.

It’s important to note that Insomnia does NOT have its own Diagnostic Code (DC) under the general rating schedule.

Thus, because the symptoms of Insomnia are most closely related to mental disorders, Insomnia is rated “analogous” to mental disorders, which have ratings of 0%, 10%, 30%, 50%, 70%, or 100%.

Insomnia VA Rating Scale

VA Disability Rating For InsomniaVA Rating Percentage
Occupational and social impairment due to mild or transient symptoms which decrease work efficiency and ability to perform occupational tasks only during periods of significant stress or symptoms controlled by continuous medication.100%
Occupational and social impairment, with deficiencies in most areas, such as work, school, family relations, judgment, thinking, or mood, due to such symptoms as: suicidal ideation; obsessional rituals which interfere with routine activities; speech intermittently illogical, obscure, or irrelevant; near-continuous panic or depression affecting the ability to function independently, appropriately and effectively; impaired impulse control (such as unprovoked irritability with periods of violence); spatial disorientation; neglect of personal appearance and hygiene; difficulty in adapting to stressful circumstances (including work or a worklike setting); inability to establish and maintain effective relationships.70%
Occupational and social impairment with reduced reliability and productivity due to such symptoms as: flattened affect; circumstantial, circumlocutory, or stereotyped speech; panic attacks more than once a week; difficulty in understanding complex commands; impairment of short- and long-term memory (e.g., retention of only highly learned material, forgetting to complete tasks); impaired judgment; impaired abstract thinking; disturbances of motivation and mood; difficulty in establishing and maintaining effective work and social relationships.50%
Occupational and social impairment with occasional decrease in work efficiency and intermittent periods of inability to perform occupational tasks (although generally functioning satisfactorily, with routine behavior, self-care, and conversation normal), due to such symptoms as: depressed mood, Insomnia, suspiciousness, panic attacks (weekly or less often), chronic sleep impairment, mild memory loss (such as forgetting names, directions, recent events).30%
Occupational and social impairment due to mild or transient symptoms which decrease work efficiency and ability to perform occupational tasks only during periods of significant stress, or symptoms controlled by continuous medication.10%
A mental condition has been formally diagnosed, but symptoms are not severe enough either to interfere with occupational and social functioning or to require continuous medication.0%
Insomnia VA Rating Table
How Do I Increase My VA Rating for Insomnia

How Do I Increase My VA Rating for Insomnia?

When VA Raters are determining the appropriate disability evaluation to assign for a Mental Health condition such as Insomnia, the primary consideration is a veteran’s current SYMPTOMS. However, VA Raters must also make findings as to “HOW” those symptoms impact a veteran’s “Occupational and Social Impairment.”

Does the veteran’s mental health condition limit or affect his/her work, life, and/or social functioning?

The average VA mental health rating for all veterans across all demographics is 70%, which is generally:

“Occupational and social impairment, with deficiencies in most areas, such as work, school, family relations, judgment, thinking, or mood.”

However, VA Raters can award a lower or higher VA rating (typically one level above or below) depending on the Severity of Symptoms.

Because the use of the term “such as” in the Mental Health rating criteria demonstrates that the symptoms after that phrase are NOT intended to be an exhaustive list, VA Raters need not find the presence of all, most, or even some of the enumerated symptoms to award a specific rating.

Nevertheless, all ratings in the general rating formula for Mental  Health are also associated with observable symptomatology, and the plain language of the regulation makes it clear that the veteran’s impairment must be “due to” those symptoms. A veteran may only qualify for a given disability rating by demonstrating the particular symptoms associated with that percentage or others of similar Frequency, Severity, and Duration.

Reasonable Doubt Rule for Insomnia

What is the Reasonable Doubt Rule for Insomnia?

The reasonable doubt rule means that the evidence provided by the claimant/beneficiary (or obtained on his/her behalf) must only persuade the decision maker that each factual matter is “at least as likely as not.” 

This means there’s a 50/50 chance, or the scales are tipped evenly for and against the claim.

When, after careful consideration of all evidence, a reasonable doubt arises regarding service origin, the degree of disability, or any other point, such doubt will be resolved in favor of the claimant.

The courts further likened the reasonable doubt rule as akin to the principle in baseball that the “tie goes to the runner.”

When in doubt, the benefit is ALWAYS given to the veteran.

Independent providers, C&P examiners, and VA Raters must consider and give weight to the veteran’s self-reported symptoms when completing their mental health evaluations, DBQs, and when issuing rating decisions.

Of course, this doesn’t always happen, and you might have had your claim denied, even with a Nexus Letter.

Here’s a 3-step process to fight back legally and ethically.

VA Rating for Insomnia Secondary to Back Pain

The VA rates insomnia secondary to back pain at 10%, 30%, 50%, 70%, and 100%, depending on the severity of your condition.  

Back pain and insomnia frequently go hand in hand because extreme back pain makes it difficult to fall and stay asleep, leading to insomnia.  

Related: Secondary Conditions to Lower Back Pain  

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I get VA disability compensation for Insomnia?

Yes, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will pay veterans with service-connected insomnia tax-free compensation each month. The amount of compensation depends upon your overall VA rating. For example, a 10% rating is worth around $171 each month, whereas a 100% rating is worth more than $3,700 per month.

Is Insomnia a VA disability condition?

Yes, insomnia is a VA disability and can be rated from 0% to 100%, depending on the severity of your symptoms. Oftentimes, insomnia is an underlying symptom of another mental health condition such as PTSD, Major Depressive Disorder, or Somatic Symptom Disorder. Due to the legal concept called avoidance of pyramiding, a veteran will only receive one VA rating for a mental health condition. The VA recognizes Insomnia Disorders as one of 31 mental health conditions that may be related to service, and thus, insomnia is a VA disability and is eligible for VA compensation and benefits under the law.

What are the VA disability ratings for Insomnia?

The VA will give you a disability rating based on the severity of your Insomnia, specifically related to your level of occupational and social impairment. If you are considered service-connected for Insomnia, you will receive one of six (6) possible VA disability ratings for your mental health condition, broken out as follows: 0%, 10%, 30%, 50%, 70%, or 100%. The average VA disability rating for Insomnia is 70%.

Can I receive Special Monthly Compensation for Insomnia?

Yes! VA Special Monthly Compensation under Category S is given if the veteran has at least one condition rated 100% AND one or both of the following:

#1. You are completely and permanently housebound because of his service-connected conditions, meaning that the veteran cannot leave his area of abode (this can include his own home, a hospital ward, or a care facility) at all, and this is expected to be the case for the rest of his life OR

#2. You have another condition rated 60% or a group of conditions together rated 60% that are unrelated to the 100% condition. For example, you have GERD rated at 60% and Generalized Insomnia Disorder rated at 100%.

Veterans can get an extra $446.00 each month, tax-free, if they meet the Insomnia Disorder housebound criteria known as SMC-S.

Related: 2024 VA Special Monthly Compensation (SMC) Rates

Can Insomnia be rated Permanent and Total (P&T)?

Yes. Some veterans may receive a permanent and total rating, also known as 100% P&T. If your Insomnia Disorder is not expected to improve, you may obtain the status of permanent and total disability.

Can the VA reduce my VA disability rating for Insomnia?

Yes. Unfortunately, sometimes the VA will lower a veteran’s VA rating for Insomnia. If that happens to you, obtain new and relevant medical evidence for your insomnia condition and challenge the VA’s decision to lower your VA rating.

How do I get a 100% VA disability for Insomnia?

Your insomnia must be severe enough to warrant a 100% VA rating. Many veterans do obtain a higher VA rating for insomnia using VA Claims Insider’s proven proprietary education-based Coaching and Consulting process—the Elite Program.

Can I work with a 100% VA Rating for Insomnia?

Yes, you can! It’s a myth that having a mental health condition somehow means you can’t work. In fact, you can work with any insomnia VA rating. Even if you’re rated at 100% for insomnia, there’s no requirement or mandate that affects your work.

Will mental health conditions affect my security clearance?

It’s a MYTH that having Insomnia, PTSD, or any other mental health condition will affect your security clearance. Of course, you’ll need to report it to your security manager and update your SF 86; however, it has no impact on your security clearance.

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About the Author

Brian Reese
Brian Reese

Brian Reese

Brian Reese is one of the top VA disability benefits experts in the world and bestselling author of You Deserve It: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Veteran Benefits You’ve Earned (Second Edition).

Brian’s frustration with the VA claim process led him to create VA Claims Insider, which provides disabled veterans with tips, strategies, and lessons learned to win their VA disability compensation claim, faster, even if they’ve already filed, been denied, gave up, or don’t know where to start. 

As the founder of VA Claims Insider and CEO of Military Disability Made Easy, he has helped serve more than 10 million military members and veterans since 2013 through free online educational resources.

He is a former active duty Air Force officer with extensive experience leading hundreds of individuals and multi-functional teams in challenging international environments, including a combat tour to Afghanistan in 2011 supporting Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.

Brian is a Distinguished Graduate of Management from the United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, CO, and he holds an MBA from Oklahoma State University’s Spears School of Business, Stillwater, OK, where he was a National Honor Scholar (Top 1% of Graduate School class).

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