In this post, we will be exploring how to get a VA Rating for Sleep Apnea.
A veterans final VA disability rating for Sleep Apnea depends upon the frequency, severity, and duration of symptoms, meaning, the more severe your symptoms, the higher the VA rating for Sleep Apnea.
In 2020, Sleep Apnea VA ratings range from 0% to 100% with breaks at 30% and 50%.
The highest possible scheduler VA disability rating for Sleep Apnea is 100%, which includes symptoms such as, chronic respiratory failure with carbon dioxide retention or cor pulmonale, or; requires tracheostomy.
Okay veterans – let’s take a minute to explore the law regarding the symptoms and level of impairment required to warrant a VA disability rating for Sleep Apnea.
You might also like the following Blog posts about Sleep Apnea:
Sleep Apnea in Veterans
Many veterans suffer from various sleep conditions due to their military service, to include Sleep Apnea—a sleep disorder whereby breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep (apneic episodes).
In fact, did you know U.S. military veterans are nearly four times (4x) as likely to have or develop sleep apnea when compared to those who didn’t serve in the military?
Veterans, do you think you might have Sleep Apnea?
Here’s a quick litmus test: If you snore during sleep, are tired during the day (maybe you take frequent naps), and stop/start breathing while sleeping (gasping for air), chances are you might have Sleep Apnea.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Sleep Apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts.”
The 3 main types of Sleep Apnea are:
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea, the most common form of Sleep Apnea, which occurs when throat muscles relax and block the upper airway.
- Central Sleep Apnea, which occurs when your brain doesn’t send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing.
- Complex / Mixed Sleep Apnea, also known as treatment-emergent central sleep apnea, which occurs when someone has both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.
VA Rating for Sleep Apnea – Common Symptoms in Veterans
Many veterans have or develop Sleep Apnea and common signs and symptoms include:
- Loud snoring
- Episodes in which you stop breathing during sleep (usually observed by your spouse or partner)
- Gasping for air during sleep
- Awakening with a dry mouth
- Morning headache
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep (insomnia)
- Excessive daytime tiredness (hypersomnia)
- Difficulty concentrating
- Anger and irritability
If you suffer from any of these symptoms, it’s highly recommended to see a doctor right away.
You may need to undergo a Sleep Study to determine if you have Sleep Apnea.
Is Sleep Apnea a VA Disability?
Yes, Sleep Apnea is a VA disability and it’s rated under diagnostic code 6847, Sleep Apnea Syndromes (Obstructive, Central, Mixed).
The most common VA rating for Sleep Apnea is 50%, which requires the use of a breathing assistance device such as Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine.
VA Rating for Sleep Apnea
Pursuant to Diagnostic Code 6847, VA disability ratings for Sleep Apnea are as follows:
- The 0 percent VA rating for Sleep Apnea is warranted if you’re asymptomatic (no symptoms), but with documented sleep disorder breathing.
- A 30 percent VA disability rating for Sleep Apnea is warranted if you have persistent daytime hypersomnolence, but do not require the use of a breathing device.
- The 50% VA rating for Sleep Apnea is warranted if you require the use of breathing assistance device such as a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) or Bi-level Positive Airway Pressure (BiPAP)
- A 100 percent VA rating for Sleep Apnea is warranted for chronic respiratory failure with carbon dioxide retention or cor pulmonale or requires tracheostomy.
Sleep Apnea is rated under diagnostic code 6847, Sleep Apnea Syndromes (Obstructive, Central, Mixed):
6847, Sleep Apnea Syndromes (Obstructive, Central, Mixed):
Sleep Apnea VA Rating (%)
|— Chronic respiratory failure with carbon dioxide retention or cor pulmonale, or requires tracheostomy|| |
|— Requires use of breathing assistance device such as a CPAP machine|| |
|— Persistent daytime hypersomnolence|| |
|— Asymptomatic but with documented sleep disorder breathing|| |
Sleep Apnea and Secondary Service Connection
Many veterans with Sleep Apnea, especially those who were diagnosed long after leaving the military, might still be eligible if medical evidence shows your Sleep Apnea is proximately due to or aggravated by another service-connected disability such as musculoskeletal conditions and/or mental health conditions.
Service connection on a secondary basis requires a showing of causation.
A showing of causation requires that the secondary disability be shown to be “proximately due to,” or the result of, a service-connected disability.
By law, there are three elements that must be satisfied for Sleep Apnea Secondary VA Claims:
- A medical diagnosis of Sleep Apnea confirmed by a sleep study in VA medical records or private records (unless you did this already on active duty and it’s in your service treatment records)
- Evidence of a service-connected primary disability, such as musculoskeletal conditions or mental health conditions, AND
- Medical Nexus evidence establishing a connection between the service-connected disability and the current disability
The first part can be satisfied with any existing medical evidence in service treatment records, VA medical records, or any private medical records.
The second part can be satisfied with a veteran’s existing service-connected disability rated at 0 percent or higher.
The third part can be satisfied with a Medical Nexus Letter, aka, Independent Medical Opinion (IMO) from a qualified medical professional.
Did you know there are more than 50 conditions that can be medically linked to cause or aggravate sleep apnea?
C&P Exam for Sleep Apnea
A C&P exam for Sleep Apnea might involve a physical examination and review of your medical history and severity of symptoms over time.
However, sometimes a VA C&P examiner (such as a Nurse Practitioner) will call you on the telephone and conduct an Acceptable Clinical Evidence (ACE) exam review of your Sleep Apnea claim.
You’ll want to explain to the C&P examiner HOW your Sleep Apnea condition is limiting or affecting your work, life, and social functioning.
For example, maybe your Sleep Apnea so severe, that you have difficulty working and lose productivity throughout the day due to frequent napping.
Maybe you’ve gained a significant amount of weight due to your other service connected disabilities, which has limited your ability to walk, run, or workout, and this is the “interim link” to secondary service connection due to weight gain (obesity).
It’s also important to document whether you have a breathing machine, such as a CPAP or BiPAP, as this is the most common difference between the 30% and 50% VA rating for Sleep Apnea.
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About the Author
Founder & CEO
Brian Reese is VA disability expert, author of the #1 Amazon Bestseller You Deserve It: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Veteran Benefits You’ve Earned, and founder of VA Claims Insider – “The Most Trusted Name in Education-Based Resources for Veterans.”
His frustration with the 8-step VA disability claims process led him to create “VA Claims Insider,” which provides U.S. military veterans with tips, strategies, and lessons learned for successfully submitting or re-submitting a winning VA disability compensation claim.
Brian is also the CEO of Military Disability Made Easy, which is the world’s largest free searchable database for all things related to DoD disability and VA disability claims and has served more than 4,600,000 military members and veterans since its founding in 2013.
His eBook, the “9 Secrets Strategies for Winning Your VA Disability Claim” has been downloaded more than 300,000 times in the past three years and is the #1 rated free VA disability claims guide for veterans.
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).