Sleep Apnea Types for VA Disability Benefits

Sleep Apnea Types for VA Disability Benefits

Posted On: May 24, 2023

Several veterans experience sleep apnea — a medical condition that occurs when an individual stops breathing while sleeping and can be linked to long-term exposure to dust and chemicals during military service. If this condition goes untreated, it may result in serious health problems. Also, veterans can get VA disability compensation if their sleep apnea symptoms are severe enough.

Sleep Apnea Types That Qualify For VA Disability 

Types of sleep apnea that qualify veterans for getting VA disability benefits include:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Central sleep apnea

Veterans need to understand the differences between these two types so they have a better idea of how the VA determines if they are eligible for disability benefits.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

It is a type of sleep apnea disorder that happens when oxygen is blocked and will only enter your lungs intermittently while you sleep. Although it’s unknown why that happens, muscles in your body relax when you’re asleep. However, for most individuals, the airway to their lungs remains open even when they're asleep, and their muscles stay relaxed.

Veterans who suffer from OSA (obstructive sleep apnea), their airway close up or almost collapses.When it happens, the brain wakes up your muscles in the airway to permit regular airflow. After that, your brain falls back to sleep quickly; most veterans have no awareness or memory of breathing issues during their sleep.

Bodyweight Is A Big Factor

For unclear causes, gaining excessive weight may cause your airways to collapse. As the fat builds up in different body parts, it may store in the tissues around your airway and alter its shape and form. It may cause your airway to collapse. Additionally, people with larger necks are at a higher risk for developing sleep apnea.

Other Reasons For Sleep Apnea 

There’re several other contributing factors for sleep apnea, such as:

  • A small jaw
  • Sleeping on your back
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Medication consumption
  • Smoking
  • Large tonsils or adenoids

Central Sleep Apnea (CSA)

Central sleep apnea (CSA) occurs when your brain doesn’t trigger the muscles in your chest to initiate breathing. These breathing muscles only function when your brain commands them. The common breathing pattern of this type is known as Cheyne-Stokes breathing. Such breathing alternates between a period without breathing and a period of hyper breathing. It’s often a sign that central sleep apnea has turned more severe if Cheyne-Stoke's breathing occurs when a person is waking up.

File Your VA Disability Benefits Claim For Sleep Apnea

There’re a few things you must do when filing your VA disability benefits claim for sleep apnea, such as:

Document Your Symptoms And Medical Treatments

It is important and helps ensure your medical condition is rated correctly. If you’re using a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) or any other breathing assistive machine, ensure it’s noted. Also, you must show the VA that your device is medically needed. It should also be documented if you suffer chronic fatigue or extreme daytime sleepiness.

Get A Sleep Study

A sleep study is sometimes necessary for an accurate and definitive medical diagnosis of your current condition. Also, document how your symptoms affect your ability to perform your duty. It is a key element to show how your sleep apnea is interfering with your ability to work.

Show Your Health Condition Is Service-Connected

It’s essential to display that your sleep apnea is connected to your military service. You can establish this connection by showing that it incurred during your service or is secondarily connected to your service-connected condition. You must also file your disability claim immediately to preserve your earliest effective date.