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VA Rating for Insomnia Secondary to Back Injuries & Pain

VA Rating for Insomnia Secondary to Back Injuries & Pain

Veterans are vulnerable to many factors that could result in a disability. Whether an injury, accident, or event causes a disability or the condition is due to an illness from their time in the service, Veterans who develop disabilities from their military service are entitled to benefits.

Back conditions are some of the most common disabilities for Veterans. Because of the wear and tear that service in the military can cause, coupled with other tasks that could result in injury, it is no surprise that many Veterans suffer from back pain.

Back pain can cause many secondary conditions as well. Though many Veterans may know they can receive benefits for service-connected disabilities, they may not know that they can increase their VA rating for secondary conditions.

One of the main secondary conditions of back pain is insomnia. This article will explain the VA rating for insomnia secondary to back injuries and all the details you need to know.

What Is Insomnia?

Insomnia is a sleep disorder that makes it difficult for people to fall asleep, stay asleep, or, if they wake up at night, fall back asleep again. It is common for many people, including Veterans.

Insomnia can be a challenging sleep disorder to deal with because you may not have the energy during the day to do the tasks you need to when you do not get enough sleep at night. A lack of sleep can also affect a person’s mood and emotions throughout the day.

Most people need seven to eight hours of sleep a night. Though this varies, those with insomnia usually get much less than the recommended amount.

Many symptoms are associated with insomnia, including:

  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Waking up too early
  • Waking up in the middle of the night
  • Tiredness throughout the day
  • Ongoing worries about sleeping
  • Depression or anxiety
  • An increase in accidents
  • Difficulty paying attention

The symptoms will also vary in how frequently they occur and how intense they are. If a Veteran feels these symptoms throughout the day, they should see a doctor immediately. If the doctor diagnoses the Veteran with a sleep disorder, they will likely need to see a sleep specialist to get the treatment they need.

Are There Different Forms of Insomnia?

Insomnia falls into two main forms: acute and chronic

A Veteran with acute insomnia may only experience insomnia symptoms for a short amount of time. 

On the other hand, chronic insomnia lasts for an extended period, and a Veteran may go through phases of getting better or worse.

How Is Back Pain Related To Insomnia

Many Veterans know that they can get a disability rating for a service-connected disability. However, Veterans with a service-connected disability may also suffer from secondary conditions caused or aggravated by their service-connected disability.

For example, Veterans who suffer from back injuries are at risk of also suffering from insomnia. The intense pain caused by back conditions can make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep. Insomnia is one of the most frequent secondary conditions, as it often develops due to another condition.

A Veteran should seek benefits from the VA for their insomnia, even if it is a secondary condition. If they can get a service connection, they can significantly increase their disability rating, leading to more benefits.

Many Veterans cannot cover the costs of their disabilities, even if they have a high disability rating for their primary disability. Getting a service connection for a secondary condition can help make their lives easier.

How To Obtain Service Connection for Back Conditions?

To make a successful argument for service connection for secondary conditions like insomnia, a Veteran will first have to make a successful argument for service connection for their primary disability — in this case, a back condition.

Back condition claims are often challenging and confusing. Like any other claim, a Veteran will have to make a successful argument for service connection.

There are three things that a Veteran will have to prove to make a service connection.

  1. A current diagnosis for the disability or illness
  2. Evidence of an in-service stressor
  3. A medical link between the current diagnosis and the in-service stressor

A Veteran should compile evidence that proves each of these things. If they cannot prove any of these main components, their claim will be denied.

If a Veteran has difficulty compiling the evidence the VA requires, they should work with an experienced attorney, like those at Berry Law. Our experience with the VA makes us effective in getting Veterans the benefits they deserve.

Veterans are often unfamiliar with the rules and regulations of the VA, which can make it difficult to procure the benefits they need. Working with an experienced attorney will ensure that a Veteran’s claim is missing nothing needed to make a service connection.

Undergoing a Compensation and Pension Exam

When Veterans obtain service connection for their primary disability, they have to undergo a compensation and pension exam (C&P). This exam is usually required to obtain service connection.

Though it is not required by law that a Veteran takes this exam, it is next to impossible that a Veteran will make a service connection without it.

A C&P exam can be the most challenging part of obtaining service connection because the medical examiner may not make a link between the current diagnosis and the in-service injury.

This occurs even when a Veteran brings proof of an injury or incident that occurred in the military. The examiner may look at the Veteran’s separation exam and find no reported issues of back pain. Because the separation exam does not report any back pain issues, the examiner will think that the issue was resolved during their time in the service.

The Veteran should come prepared and explain why they may not have sought treatment during their time in the service, plus any evidence of recurring symptoms.

Service Connection for Secondary Conditions

Veterans can get a highercombined disability rating by obtaining service connection for secondary conditions. This helps to cover the costs of treatment to aid in their disability.

The VA recognizes two categories of secondary conditions.

The first category is where a previous, service-connected disability causes a secondary condition. The diagnosis of the secondary condition will then also be service-connected since it would not have existed in the first place if the primary disability had never occurred.

The second category is when a service-connected disability aggravates a non-service-connected condition. This means that the secondary condition could have existed before the Veteran’s service in the military. The service and the primary disability aggravate the condition and make it worse.

To obtain service connection for a secondary condition, the Veteran will have to get a diagnosis of the condition. In the doctor’s diagnosis, precise language must be used. Specifically, the phrase “at least as likely as not” should be used to say that the secondary condition was at least as likely as not caused by the primary condition.

Failure to have this precise language can result in a denied claim for a secondary condition.

Conclusion

Numerous Veterans have insomnia as a secondary condition. It is difficult to deal with and can alter a person’s livelihood and mood. Getting a good night’s rest is one of the most important things a Veteran can do to heal, but losing sleep can possibly worsen conditions.

Veterans can obtain service connection for secondary conditions. To do so, they will have to obtain service connection for their primary disability. An experienced attorney can help with that process so that the Veteran will get the benefits they deserve.

For more information on VA law and Veterans’ benefits, visit our website.

Sources:

Insomnia – Symptoms and causes | Mayo Clinic

What is Secondary Service Connection for VA Disability Compensation? | Veterans Aid Benefit

10 Common Secondary Disabilities | Benefits

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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