Reasons Why The VA May Deny Your Sleep Apnea Claim

Reasons Why The VA May Deny Your Sleep Apnea Claim

Service in the military can cause many disabilities and disorders that disrupt a Veteran’s life. 

Sometimes certain events or injuries cause these disorders, while other times, they begin as symptoms of an already existing disorder. One such disorder is sleep apnea.

An increasing number of Veterans suffer from sleep apnea, sometimes from an event in the military and sometimes because of a current disability or disorder connected to their service.

In either case, sleep apnea disrupts sleep, which can be detrimental to a Veteran. Not only do they need a good night’s rest, but they also need to be able to heal.

Key Takeaways:

  • You’ll learn what sleep apnea is
  • You’ll understand the symptoms of sleep apnea
  • You’ll know what benefits you’ll be able to get for sleep apnea
  • You’ll learn why the VA may deny your sleep apnea claim

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder where breathing repeatedly stops and starts throughout the night. It can become a severe disorder if it is not treated over time. When sleep apnea begins, most people will experience loud snoring or tiredness even after a whole night’s sleep.

Many different forms of sleep apnea can occur:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea: This is the most common form that happens when throat muscles relax
  • Central sleep apnea: This form of sleep apnea happens when your brain does not send signals to the muscles controlling your breathing
  • Complex sleep apnea syndrome: This form is a combination of the two above. It is also known as treatment-emergent central sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea can cause complications throughout a Veteran’s daily life. For one, if they cannot get a good night’s rest, it can cause daytime fatigue. This can change a Veteran’s mood or ability to concentrate.

Sleep apnea can also strain your cardiovascular system to the point where you may be at more risk of heart attacks or strokes. This is because there are sudden drops in blood oxygen levels when a Veteran experiences difficulties breathing. 

Metabolic syndrome and Type 2 diabetes are other concerns when a Veteran is experiencing sleep apnea. Sleep apnea causes insulin resistance and higher blood pressure, which can result in increased weight and heart disease.

There are many more complications that sleep apnea causes. It is crucial to seek a doctor if you are experiencing difficulty sleeping because of loud snoring. Beginning treatment as soon as possible is the best way to avoid further complications.

What Are the Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?

Many symptoms of sleep apnea can occur at once, which makes it challenging to know what exactly you may be experiencing.

Here are some of the most common symptoms of central and obstructive sleep apnea:

  • Morning headache
  • Having a dry mouth when you wake up
  • Loud snoring
  • Periods in which you stop breathing when you sleep
  • Difficulty staying asleep
  • Trouble paying attention while awake
  • Irritability
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Sexual dysfunction

Sometimes, if you sleep with a partner, they may be able to tell you some of the symptoms at night since it can be challenging to be aware of what you’re experiencing when you sleep.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms regularly, the best thing to do is contact a medical professional and seek a diagnosis. 

What Causes Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is prevalent amongst Veterans. Veterans are four times as to suffer from sleep apnea than others.

Because of this, the VA gives compensation and benefits to Veterans who suffer from sleep apnea.

Many veterans experience other disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injuries (TBI), that can lead to sleep apnea. Some studies have shown that those with PTSD have a 40% greater chance of developing sleep apnea.

Does the VA Help With Sleep Disorders? 

Many Veterans may not know that they have access to benefits and compensation for sleep apnea. However, it is important that they do since they are entitled to it if it is service-connected.

The VA covers many sleep disorders.

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea: Same as OSA listed above.
  • Insomnia: This makes a Veteran unable to fall asleep or stay asleep for long. Many Veterans who struggle with sleep apnea are prone to also struggle with insomnia as well.
  • Narcolepsy: This disorder can cause abrupt moments of unconsciousness and cataplexy. Sleep apnea can make people drowsy and fatigued throughout the day, leading to moments of sleepiness.
  • Excessive Daytime Sleepiness: This disorder is linked to the others listed above, but it can be diagnosed independently. It causes people to be drowsy throughout the day.

Several factors can cause these sleep disorders. Some Veterans suffer from these sleep disorders because of blunt force trauma to the head, while others develop the disorder from a mental disorder or physical disability.

No matter how a sleep disorder is caused, if a Veteran can make a service connection and compelling claim, they are liable for compensation.

How To Make a Sleep Apnea Claim

Many Veterans are unaware of where to begin when they make a claim through the VA.

To make a claim for sleep apnea, there are many components that a Veteran will need to have. 

To begin, the Veteran must compile evidence. This can come in different ways, but the evidence must prove three things.

  1. That the Veteran has a current disability
  2. That the Veteran’s disability was caused by their time in the service
  3. A medical nexus that connects the current disability with their in-service stressor

If any of these components are missing from the evidence, the VA will deny the claim.

This is often why the VA will deny sleep apnea claims. Many Veterans develop sleep apnea or sleep disorders during their time in the military. If they are unaware of what they are dealing with, they may not get a diagnosis until after their time in the service. If a Veteran does not get a diagnosis until after their time in the service, it can make it increasingly difficult to gather evidence to make a service connection.

Most evidence that Veterans gather includes service records and medical records from their time in the service. However, if they did not deal with sleep apnea until after their service, such evidence would not exist.

In moments such as this, where the Veteran has difficulty gathering evidence for their sleep apnea, the best thing they can do is work with an experienced attorney. Berry Law has the needed experience of working with the VA to ensure that Veterans get the benefits they deserve. 

Because many Veterans are unfamiliar with the VA’s regulations and requirements, they are unsure where to begin when they compile a claim. This can create a lot of unwanted stress for the Veteran, which will not make their condition any better.

Having an attorney advocate for you can take the weight off of your shoulders. We can assist you in the writing of the claim, as well as compiling evidence that will be able to make a service connection for your disability.

VA Ratings for Sleep Disorders

Unlike other VA ratings, the ratings for sleep disorders are not in 10% increments. Rather, they are either 0, 30, 50, or 100 percent. The most common claim for sleep disorders is obstructive sleep apnea.

The ratings depend on the severity of the symptoms. For example, if the sleep apnea is just causing difficulty breathing but no other symptoms, the rating will be 0%. This means that the Veteran will receive no monthly benefits.

However, if sleep apnea causes chronic respiratory failure, then the Veteran might be given a 100% rating, which is the highest that a Veteran can get.

Getting the rating you deserve depends on how convincing the evidence is when you make a claim or an appeal. Make sure that your evidence describes the details of your symptoms so that the VA will make as few mistakes as possible.


Sleep apnea occurs in many Veterans, even if they are completely unaware of it. If they have difficulty sleeping, they should get their concerns checked out so that they can be properly diagnosed.

This is especially important for those who experience sleep disorder issues in the military. The VA denies many claims for sleep disorders due to a lack of information from a Veteran’s time in the service. Make sure that this does not happen by getting your sleep concerns checked out.

For more information on VA law or benefits, visit our website.


Sleep apnea – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic

Sleep Apnea: Causes, Symptoms, Tests & Treatments

Are Military Veterans More Prone to Sleep Apnea?

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.

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