As noted in a recent Stars and Stripes report, there has been a recent surge in veterans’ disability claims for sleep apnea. Since 2009 they have nearly doubled, increasing to 114,103 veterans or retirees drawing payments for the condition in 2012. The number of veterans who began drawing payments for sleep apnea was 24,791 compared to 983 in 2001.
Although some may have concerns regarding the legitimacy of some of the claims filed for sleep apnea related to military service, it can be a chronic condition that not only disrupts one’s sleep, but causes fatigue throughout the day. Those who legitimately developed this or other chronic conditions due to military service may pursue a VA disability claim.
Overview of Sleep Apnea
There are two forms of sleep apnea. The most common is obstructive sleep apnea, where the airway is blocked or collapses. This results in pauses in between breathing or breathing that is shallow. The other kind is central sleep apnea, where for momentary periods of time there is no breathing.
If this condition isn’t treated, it can lead to other health problems such as heart attack, stroke, irregular heartbeat, diabetes and high blood pressure. It may also increase the risk of heart failure or worsen the condition for those who already have it.
Because it can interfere with one’s ability to function during the day, there is also an increased risk of having an accident at home, work or while driving. Proper treatment is critical.
The following are some of the signs of sleep apnea:
- loud snoring;
- lack of energy/sleepiness during day;
- difficulty sleeping;
- sporadically waking up gasping or choking;
- headaches (in morning); and
- sore throat/dry mouth (in morning).
Some of the ways sleep apnea can be managed include breathing devices, mouthpieces, surgery and/or making lifestyle changes (such as losing weight).
Filing a Veterans’ Disability Claim
If it’s believed that a chronic condition developed as a result of exposures during military service, disability benefits may be available. For help filing a claim or appealing a denied application, contact The Law Offices of Veterans Help Group