Veterans who have sleep apnea receive top priority care at VA clinics if they require a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. The patient wears a mask while sleeping to increase air pressure and keep the airway from collapsing.
Snoring and pauses in breathing are common symptoms of sleep apnea. The condition can also lead to other health complications if not treated. Since 2009, the number of disability claims filed for sleep apnea have increased by 150 percent, reports Stars and Stripes.
In the midst of the secret waiting list scandal that has plagued the VA, vets with sleep apnea have the assurance of getting top priority care. Those diagnosed with this condition receive a 50 percent disability rating, which puts them in Priority Group 1.
Sleep apnea has even greater priority than other serious injuries. The Stars and Stripes article makes the comparison to a serviceman or woman who lost a foot or a leg below the knee. This type of injury receives a 40 percent disability rating if the veteran can use a prosthetic limb.
Ratings for all 15 body systems are currently under review and rating changes to sleep apnea and other disabling conditions are possible. But for now, vets diagnosed with this condition can expect prompt treatment.
It’s important to note that vets diagnosed with sleep apnea who don’t need the CPAP machine won’t receive a 50 percent disability rating. If no symptoms are present, it’s a 0 percent rating. But if it causes hypersomnolence (excessive sleeping during the day), it would allow for a 30 percent disability rating.
VA provides disability benefits for other types of respiratory illnesses such as emphysema and pulmonary vascular disease. No matter the condition, it’s important to have adequate evidence of it as well as its connection to service if applying for disability benefits. For assistance filing a claim or appealing a denied claim, contact the Law Offices of Veterans Help Group at 855-855-8992.