VA Compensation for Sleep Apnea Secondary to Anxiety and Depression

VA Compensation for Sleep Apnea Secondary to Anxiety and Depression

Millions of Veterans suffer from anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other mental health conditions. Many Veterans also suffer from sleep apnea, a sleep disorder that makes it hard for them to breathe consistently at night and causes many negative symptoms during the day.

Sleep apnea and mental health disorders are more connected than you may think. Veterans might qualify for extra disability compensation for their sleep apnea if it develops due to anxiety and/or depression.

Not sure how this works? Read on for a detailed breakdown of VA compensation ratings for sleep apnea secondary to anxiety and depression.

Sleep Apnea Explained

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by interrupted breathing during sleep. If left unchecked, sleep apnea can have severe consequences on physical and mental health.

Sleep apnea may lead to consistently interrupted rest, high levels of fatigue, sleep deprivation, and breathing obstructions. It can also lead to dangerous secondary conditions like heart disease and hypertension.

Sleep apnea comes in three primary types:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type. Also called OSA, this sleep apnea occurs when your throat muscles relax and temporarily block your airway while you sleep, causing impairment in your breathing.
  • Central sleep apnea occurs if your brain doesn’t send the right signals to the muscles that control your breathing reflex.
  • Complex or mixed sleep apnea occurs if you have both obstructive and central sleep apnea.

Regardless of the type, sleep apnea tends to produce the following symptoms in Veterans and other sufferers of this condition:

  • Loud snoring
  • Morning headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Hypersomnolence, also known as excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Intense fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Mood swings
  • Dry mouth after awakening

There are many physical factors that contribute to developing sleep apnea, including inherent qualities like family history, neck circumference, and gender. Common conditions and risk factors like weight gain, obesity, use of certain drugs and alcohol, cigarette smoking, and high blood pressure may also lead to sleep apnea.

However, many Veterans develop sleep apnea specifically during their active duty — be that in the Gulf War, Afghanistan, or beyond. Although they may not know it, this health condition may qualify them for a VA disability rating.

Can Sleep Apnea Develop from Anxiety & Depression?

Certain studies have indicated a link between sleep apnea and major depressive disorder, anxiety, and similar mental health issues. 

For example, a Veteran may have obstructive sleep apnea and have difficulty getting a full night’s rest. When they awake in the morning, they are much more tired than usual. As a result, daily challenges seem more difficult, and their depressive symptoms or anxiety are heightened.

On the flip side, sleep apnea may also develop from PTSD, depression, or anxiety. A Veteran who has difficulty relaxing while asleep due to depression or anxiety from their military service may develop sleep apnea incidentally. This can cause a gradually worsening cycle of symptoms as both conditions feed into each other.

The bottom line? Sleep apnea and mental health conditions like anxiety and depression are oftentimes more connected than Veterans assume. Because of this, sleep apnea often qualifies as a secondary condition to depression or anxiety — and vice versa.

Veterans who suffer from one or both medical conditions may receive disability benefits to compensate them. The Department of Veterans Affairs requires medical evidence like an official medical opinion for both, but luckily the connections between these conditions are already well understood.

VA Ratings for Sleep Apnea Secondary to Anxiety and Depression

According to Diagnostic Code 6847, Sleep Apnea Syndromes, the VA rates your sleep apnea secondary to anxiety and depression on a 0% to 100% scale.

The current ratings for sleep apnea secondary to anxiety and depressions are:

  • 0% if your condition is asymptomatic (though it can still be documented with the VA for future developments).
  • 30% if you experience persistent daytime hypersomnolence or if you are chronically sleepy in the daytime due to your sleep apnea.
  • 50% if you have to use a breathing assistance device like a CPAP machine to fall asleep and stay asleep.
  • 100% if you experience chronic respiratory failure, including but not limited to carbon dioxide retention and the need for a tracheostomy surgery.

Just like you have to prove your symptoms to acquire disability benefits for any other condition, you must prove that your sleep apnea exists to receive benefits for it. To do so, you will:

  • Gather evidence. You’ll need to prove that you have the condition and that it started after your military service. You might provide journal entries, eyewitness accounts from friends or family members who live with you, and professional opinions from medical providers.
  • Put together a disability benefits application package. Knowledgeable Veterans law attorneys like Berry Law can help you file a successful disability benefits claim.

Compensation For Secondary Sleep Apnea

If you are awarded a secondary service connection for your sleep apnea claim, that disability rating will be added to your current rating, resulting in a higher disability benefits payment each month. 

The VA’s schedule of basic rates for monthly payments depends on your total disability status as well as your familial status — for instance, whether you are married, whether you have dependent children, and more. You can check the full 2022 Veterans monthly payment rate schedule here.

Here’s a selection of example compensations to consider:

  • Veterans with a 30% disability rating and no dependents – $467.39
  • Veterans with a 40% disability rating and no dependents – $673.28
  • Veterans with a 50% disability rating and no dependents – $958.44
  • Veterans with a 60% disability rating and no dependents – $1214.03

How To File a Claim for Secondary Sleep Apnea

Filing a disability benefits claim for secondary sleep apnea is a little different from filing a claim for sleep apnea as its own condition. Remember, a secondary service-connected condition is one that appeared or was exacerbated by an existing service-connected condition.

For example, if you did not have sleep apnea prior to developing depression because of your military service, that sleep apnea would qualify as a secondary service-connected condition. That’s because you wouldn’t have sleep apnea and its symptoms if you did not develop depressive or PTSD symptoms due to your military service.

Notably, you don’t have to be diagnosed with the condition before filing for secondary basis benefits. For instance, if you want to claim benefits for secondary sleep apnea, it’s a good idea to order a sleep study from your doctor. A sleep study can prove that you are experiencing the condition as stated.

Again, knowledgeable Veterans law attorneys can provide invaluable assistance during this process. The right law firm can:

  • Make sure you file your paperwork, including all relevant medical records, on time.
  • Ensure that your disability benefits claim doesn’t have any errors that would cause it to be rejected.
  • Help you gather evidence to prove your sleep apnea is secondary to anxiety and depression.

If your benefits claim is initially denied, the right legal team can also assist you through the VA disability claims appeals process and help you get the benefits you deserve.

Can You File a Claim for Depression and Anxiety Secondary to Sleep Apnea?

Yes. As noted above, sleep apnea might interfere with your sleep so much that you develop depressive or anxious symptoms. In these cases, you might be able to claim benefits for your depression and anxiety if your sleep apnea was caused by your military service and those conditions developed because of the sleep apnea.


Veterans suffering from sleep apnea secondary to anxiety and depression deserve disability benefits as much as any other service member. Berry Law can make sure you get those benefits.

As licensed and experienced Veterans law attorneys, we know exactly how to help with Veterans’ claims and VA disability benefits. We can help you file a successful claim, so you receive a secondary service connection for your sleep apnea and depression, anxiety, or related mental health issue.

Want to know more? Contact Berry Law today for a free case evaluation and consultation.


2022 Veterans Disability Compensation Rates | Veterans Affairs

38 CFR § 4.97 — Schedule of Ratings — Respiratory System | Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute

Depression, Obstructive Sleep Apnea, and Psychosocial Health | National Library of Medicine

Berry Law

The attorneys at Berry Law are dedicated to helping injured Veterans. With extensive experience working with VA disability claims, Berry Law can help you with your disability appeals.

This material is for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship between the Firm and the reader, and does not constitute legal advice. Legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and the contents of this blog are not a substitute for legal counsel.

Related Posts

Agent Orange Exposure in the Gulf of Tonkin: Do I Qualify for VA Disability Benefits?
Agent Orange Exposure in the Gulf of Tonkin: Do I Qualify for VA Disability Benefits?
How to File a PACT Act Claim
How to File a PACT Act Claim
The Link Between COPD and Agent Orange Exposure
The Link Between COPD and Agent Orange Exposure

Subscribe to our newsletter

The Service Connection

Our monthly newsletter features about important and up-to-date veterans' law news, keeping you informed about the changes that matter.

Skip to content