Did you serve in the United States military and now suffer from insomnia?
You’re definitely not alone. Others have walked the same path before you. Fortunately, with the right assistance, they were able to receive a VA disability rating for insomnia to help them live a better life. Would you like to learn how? Learn what’s involved in receiving a disability rating for insomnia.
In this article about VA disability for insomnia:
- What Does Total Disability for Insomnia Mean?
- What is a VA Disability Rating?
- What’s the Medical Definition of Insomnia?
- What Are the Symptoms of Chronic Insomnia?
- What Causes Chronic Insomnia?
- How Do I Qualify for Insomnia VA Disability?
- What Do I Need to Know Before My C&P Exam?
- What Are My Options if the Doctor Says I Don’t Have Insomnia?
- Could I Possibly Qualify if I Had Insomnia Before Joining the Military?
- If I’ve Been a Civilian for a Long Time, Could I Possibly Still Qualify?
- Does the Military Acknowledge the Link Between Military Service and Insomnia?
- Don’t You Deserve the Highest Possible Insomnia VA Disability Rating?
What Does Total Disability for Insomnia Mean?
To receive a status of Total Disability from the Department of Veterans Affairs you need a 100% rating which means that it’s impossible for you to find and retain suitable employment due to your medical condition. Some veterans receive a VA Total Disability rating for primary insomnia alone, but most have achieved their rating using insomnia as a secondary condition combined with a different primary condition.
What is a VA Disability Rating?
The VA gives you a disability rating based on its determination of the seriousness of your condition. The rating is expressed as a percentage. The greater the impact your condition has on your quality of life, the higher the rating. If you suffer from a number of illnesses and injuries, you could receive multiple ratings.
You will receive a combined rating if you have multiple disabilities. However, the combined rating is not a simple mathematical exercise of adding together your individual ratings. Your combined rating is likely to differ from the sum of the individual ratings. The VA says it uses what it calls the whole person method to calculate your combined VA rating.
The VA method ensures that your total rating is never more than 100%. In other words, if the whole person represents 100% of a human, then logically, the percentage of disability a person could suffer should only be 100% or less, never more. For example, if one of your conditions is rated at 70% debilitating and another at 40%, your combined rating would not be 110% but 100% or less.
The VA uses the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, to rate insomnia. The VA will rate insomnia alone if it doesn’t have an underlying mental health issue such as depression. If your insomnia is related to a mental illness, the agency will typically factor insomnia into its overall rating of your primary condition.
Your VA disability rating for insomnia will determine how much financial compensation you’ll receive each month. It also decides whether you’re eligible for other VA benefits.
What’s the Medical Definition of Insomnia?
Insomnia involves either having trouble falling asleep or having difficulty remaining asleep. It’s not uncommon for a person to experience both circumstances.
The medical community recognizes two major categories of insomnia. Acute insomnia strikes from seeming out of nowhere but lasts less than a month.
You may have experienced acute insomnia when you couldn’t sleep because you were too focused on your wedding day or a major job interview. Fortunately, this type of sleep disturbance often disappears when the big event passes.
In contrast, chronic insomnia will last for at least a complete month, occurring several nights per week. It’s so powerful that it will likely require treatment.
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What Are the Symptoms of Chronic Insomnia?
Typical symptoms reported by sufferers of chronic insomnia can show up not only at bedtime but throughout the day.
Struggling to Fall Asleep
You find yourself awake long after going to bed. It seems that nothing works. You tried counting sheep, reading, listening to gentle music, and a million other suggestions from your loved ones.
Sleeping for Only a Short Time and Then Having Trouble Going Back to Sleep
It’s frustrating to fall asleep expecting a good night’s rest only to awaken a short time later. Many people experience this situation early in the night while others can get several hours of sleep before waking up. Some can sleep almost the entire night, but consistently wake up a couple of hours short of a full night’s rest.
Sleeping But Not Feeling Refreshed
Disruptive sleep can leave you questioning whether it was even worth the effort of trying to sleep. You get out of bed in the morning exhausted and maybe irritable.
In this video, one of our certified VA disability lawyers discusses how sleep disorders can be connected to military service:
Lack of Energy
When you fail to get the amount of quality sleep your body needs, it can restore its energy reserves. No matter how enthusiastically you try to greet the day, you’ll soon run out of steam long before the workday is over.
Problems Thinking and Remembering
If insomnia keeps you awake at night, you’ll likely have trouble remaining focused the next day. Routine tasks may appear strangely more difficult than usual.
Changes in Mood and Behavior
Family and friends may not be aware that you suffer from insomnia, but they’ll know that something is wrong because you’ve changed. The easygoing personality is gone, replaced by a grumpy, sarcastic, or moody persona. They may also notice that you’ve lost interest in some of your previously favorite pastimes.
Deteriorating of Work and School Performance
Doing well at work and school day after day with poor sleep is like trying to function on a poor diet. Your brain simply won’t have the power to keep up with the demands that are placed on it.
What Causes Chronic Insomnia?
You can experience insomnia for a number of reasons. And each occurrence of insomnia may be caused by varying circumstances. However, there are some frequently occurring causes of insomnia which include:
- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Major life changes such as divorce
How Do I Qualify for Insomnia VA Disability?
You don’t have to have a history of combat in order to qualify. It’s possible that other events away from the battlefield contributed to your insomnia. The incident can even occur when you’re not active duty or on the base.
Do you feel that your military service is connected to your insomnia? If so, you’ll have to present evidence to that effect to qualify for disability.
It’s basically a three-step process.
- Provide a medical professional’s diagnosis of insomnia.
- Present convincing evidence of an incident during your military service that produced insomnia.
- Submit a letter from the medical professional who diagnosed your insomnia that concludes that your insomnia can be traced to an incident during your military service.
The VA can arrange for your visit to the doctor, officially called a Compensation and Pension examination (C&P) that will likely take place at the nearest VA clinic. The doctor will investigate your symptoms to determine if you do have insomnia. If so, he or she will also try to discover the cause of your insomnia.
What Do I Need to Know Before My C&P Exam?
The VA offers the following 11 tips to prepare for your C&P exam.
- Don’t miss your appointment. You don’t want to delay the process of completing your claim and receiving your compensation. Even worse, the VA could choose to make a decision regarding your claim using only the information about you that’s currently on file.
- Don’t reschedule your appointment unless absolutely necessary. The VA asks that you reschedule at least two days ahead of schedule appointment.
- Verify that your VA contact information is up to date. For example, you may have changed your phone number or email address.
- Call the VA to confirm your appointment.
- Submit medical evidence supporting your claim to the VA prior to your appointment. You can electronically upload it, mail it, or fax it.
- If you have more than one disability, prepare to have more than one C&P exam.
- Arrive 15 minutes early.
- Don’t expect a hands-on exam. The exam may only require the doctor to ask a series of questions.
- Answer all the questions honestly.
- Don’t ask the examiner about your claim. They won’t know its status.
- Don’t have a preconceived idea about how long your exam should take.
The length of your exam is no indication of the status of your claim. Some exams may be as brief as 15 minutes while others may last longer than an hour.
What Are My Options if the Doctor Says I Don’t Have Insomnia?
If the doctor concludes that you don’t have insomnia, you can have another doctor who does believe that you have insomnia to officially challenge the first diagnosis.
Sometimes medical authorities may determine that your insomnia is the result of another condition such as the ones cited above. In other words, it’s their opinion that your insomnia has a secondary service connection.
You can still receive disability benefits with a secondary service connection. The secondary connection doesn’t interfere with your existing benefits. Instead, they can increase your benefits.
For example, if you suffer from depression, there’s a good chance that your depression has led to insomnia. If a medical authority agrees with that assessment, you might persuade the VA to add insomnia to your record and seek additional compensation.
Major injuries and surgery associated with chronic pain are also known to cause insomnia.
Anyone who’s ever tried to get a good night’s sleep while suffering from back pain understands the close connection between ongoing pain and lack of sleep. Other conditions besides depression and chronic pain that are often triggers for insomnia include PTSD and anxiety.
Could I Possibly Qualify if I Had Insomnia Before Joining the Military?
But what if your insomnia is a preexisting condition? You can still receive benefits due to insomnia even if your insomnia plagued you prior to joining the military. However, you’ll have to convince the VA that your time in the military increased your insomnia. When military service makes a preexisting condition worse it’s referred to as service connection by aggravation.
For example, you may have always had trouble falling asleep, but usually were capable of routinely getting a fair amount of rest during the night. However, during or after your military service you begin experiencing even greater difficulty drifting off and frequently find yourself in a state of sleep deprivation.
If I’ve Been a Civilian for a Long Time, Could I Possibly Still Qualify?
In some cases, it can take years for certain conditions to manifest themselves. Fortunately, a claimant’s age does not count against him nor does the length of time that he’s been out of the military.
Does the Military Acknowledge the Link Between Military Service and Insomnia?
The medical community has long acknowledged that insomnia and other sleep disorders appear among service personnel far more frequently than among the general populace. According to one study, 48.6% of U.S. military personnel report sleep problems.
Yet another study looked at military personnel showing symptoms of insomnia. Those seeing combat who had symptoms were 41% while non-combat personnel was 25%.
When you narrow it down to military personnel diagnosed with post-traumatic stress, the rate of insomnia climbs to over 90%.
Retired Marine, Sherman Gillums, Jr. described in Military Times his first-hand experience with insomnia. He said that he didn’t understand the importance of sleep until he was permanently disabled with a condition that made it difficult to get a good night’s rest.
He said that when he did drift off, he would dream that he was in perfect health so that when he would awaken to the realization of his present situation it tormented him for the remainder of the night. As a result, he stayed awake night after night afraid to fall asleep.
Talk to Us About Your Claim: (866) 232-5777
In 2020, the VA in conjunction with the Department of Defense issued new guidelines for managing insomnia. The agencies jointly assembled a panel of medical specialists to create new treatment procedures.
Don’t You Deserve the Highest Possible Insomnia VA Disability Rating?
Don’t add to your sleepless nights by staying awake worrying about how you’re going to be compensated for your insomnia. Put a team of professionals to work on your behalf.
A behind the scenes look at who works for you at Woods and Woods, The Veteran’s Firm
We have a track record of helping the men and women of this country who served in their military to receive the highest possible insomnia VA disability rating.
Now it’s your turn. Contact Woods and Woods, The Veteran’s Firm today to begin receiving your full compensation.
You might get both! Insomnia is a lot easier to get approved as a secondary-connected condition to other things like PTSD, pain, or other VA rated disabilities.
It really depends on your symptoms and what the C&P exam shows. Sleep apnea is treated and diagnosed in a different way, so depending on what your doctor says, you could have a strong case for one over the other. You’ll want our experienced doctors to look at your claim.