Veterans ask me more questions about sleep apnea than almost any other question about VA Benefits Law.
* Can I service connect sleep apnea without a sleep study in service?
* What if it wasn't diagnosed until years after service- can I service connect it then?
* Can Agent Orange cause Sleep Apnea? What about PTSD?
* How do I appeal the VA's denial of my Sleep Apnea?
I got so many questions that I began to do a lot of research into how to service connect Sleep Apnea claims and what is happening with Sleep Apnea in the Veteran's community.
Here's 4 lessons I learned that I want to pass on to you - if you can really learn and understand these lessons, you will have the power to really improve and service connect sleep apnea claims and appeals.
There are 3 things that the human body cannot live - or function - without: Blood/Oxygen, Food/Water and Sleep.
You can lose a kidney, and live a full and complete life. You can lose your arms and legs and still survive.
But if your body cannot get sleep, you will die. In fact, sleep deprivation is a common form of torture, as many of us know all too well.
That's what Sleep Apnea does - while you are sleeping, you stop breathing. You cut off oxygen to the brain and blood, and other body systems break down.
If you are lucky, you start breathing again.
Not a lot of VSOs or advocates get this when helping a Veteran file a VA Claim. They think of Sleep Apnea as a disease of the obese, and then they tell them one of the big Fairy Tales about VA Claims.
In the 9 months I spent researching my Sleep Apnea book, I learned that there are 39 medical conditions - common among Veterans - that can cause or aggravate sleep apnea.
39 Medical Conditions!!
Here are just a few:
* Damage to the brain from a TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury)
* Heart conditions
* Post-Traumatic Stress
* Nerve conditions
Here are a few examples of how Sleep Apnea has affected my clients:
* Don D. (he asked me not to use his real name) served mostly during the Cold War was in the best physical shape of his life - he was an avid weight-lifter. That is, until he damaged his knees in-service and had to get a knee replacement at a military hospital. After that knee replacement, he could no longer lift weights; the sudden weight gain the resulted caused his obstructive sleep apnea.
* Several Desert Storm, OIF, and OEF Clients have had Traumatic Brain Injuries which interfere with how their Nervous System works, and as a result, have a different kind of Sleep Apnea (oversimplified, where the brain's signals to breathe don't make it through to the lungs).
* My Firm represents many Vietnam Veterans exposed to Agent Orange. They are ALL experiencing a "Perfect Storm" of Sleep Apnea problems: breathing disorders, mental health conditions, heart conditions and diabetes are all causing an epidemic of Sleep Apnea in our Vietnam Veterans.
No wonder Sleep Apnea is affecting so many Veterans - sleep apnea can be the result of other disorders or medical conditions.
I believe that the VA and BVA don't take Sleep Apnea seriously. I think that far too many raters and BVA judges think of sleep apnea as "made up medicine".
Perhaps they'll have to spend a night with someone that suffers from obstructive sleep apnea, hear the suffocating snoring, experience the fear that the person will stop breathing altogether, they will continue to not take seriously claims for sleep apnea.
Or perhaps when they realize that Sleep Apnea is going to be as big an issue for our current generation of Veterans as Agent Orange related conditions are to Vietnam Veterans, they will take it seriously.
Either way, Veterans have an uphill fight to get their sleep apnea service-connected.
Here's a Statistic that will shock you:
From April 2013 to April 2014,the BVA denied 76% of Veterans Sleep Apnea appeals.
Translation: 3 out of every 4 of you will see your sleep apnea claims and appeals denied...unless you learn how to prove your Sleep Apnea Claim the right way.
I spent 9 months researching Veterans and Sleep Apnea. I talked to several doctors and sleep experts. I read hundreds of cases. I talked to hundreds of Veterans and read their C-Files to see where they went wrong.
I learned that to win your Sleep Apnea claim, you are going to have to put your Sleep Apnea Claim together right.
This is where I come in. I can teach you how to do that. I can teach you:
* HOW to prove your Sleep Apnea Claim - for any of the 3 types of Sleep Apnea you have.
* WHAT evidence to use and which path to Service Connection to use.
* WHERE to get the Lay Evidence that will give REAL POWER to your Sleep Apnea Claim.
* To prove your Sleep Apnea is service connected... without a sleep study in the military?
* The SPECIFIC EVIDENCE you will need to prove another medical condition caused your sleep apnea
* How the VA will rate your sleep apnea condition after granting Service Connection.
How can you learn these things?
#1: Check out the links on this page - there are over 600 posts on the Veterans Law Blog with detailed, in-depth, and FREE information to help you improve your VA Claim. I can't put everything into one post - that's why I write the Veterans Law Blog.
#2: Here are 3 MORE ways to learn more about improving your VA Sleep Apnea Claim:
Chris Attig, an Accredited Veterans Benefits attorney and Founder of the Attig Law Firm, PLLC is responsible for the content of the site. The principal office of Attig Law Firm, PLLC, is located in Dallas, Texas. Chris Attig is NOT Certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. - Please view our website disclaimer.
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