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    You’ve just been rated 100% disabled by the Veterans Affairs. After the excitement of finally having the rating you deserve wears off, you start asking questions. One of the first questions that you might ask is this: It’s a legitimate question – rare is the Veteran that finds themselves sitting on the couch eating bon-bons … Continue reading

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Connecting Sleep Apnea with Service


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I was discharged January 29, 2011. During my time in I did not have a sleep study, but some sleep issues were documented. I filed for disability for sleep apnea through the VA January 9th, 2012. By Feb 22 2012, I had a sleep study. I was diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea and issued a CPAP. After that my life turned into complete chaos with a divorce and losing my house to my wife. I moved probably 8 times between 2012 and 2014. In 2013 I got a call from the VA saying that my claim was about to be closed, and that I don't have evidence of service connection for my sleep apnea.  They also told me that I had no medical service records on file. They extended my claim to give me time to get my records in and any other supporting evidence. I never got around to submitting my copy of my medical record (that I had made prior to separation just in case this happened) due to my life being a complete mess. By march 2014, my case was denied and closed. Comments are "STRs unavailable". 
 
Now 7 years later I'm working on getting this taken care of. I plan on doing a supplemental claim. The VA website says there's no time limit for doing a supplemental claim, but it's best to do it within a year of the decision. I have 5 buddy statements from fellow service members that were roommates and shared the same bunk room with me on duty for 2 years. I am working on getting a nexus letter from my primary care doctor.
 
I also have email correspondence with a medical officer on my ship in November of 2010, requesting to be seen for possible sleep apnea, due to excessive snoring and stopping breathing in my sleep, to which he responded. I was not able to setup a date before separating that coming january. The email I sent read as follows:

Dated 22NOV2010

"Good morning Sir, this is AD3 (my name) in IM-2 on CVN-71. I am having problems logging in to the computer today so I'm doing this from my Gmail if you don't mind.

I came to medical today but it was after sick hall hours and the personnel at the desk told me to email you rather than coming in tomorrow. I get out of the navy on Jan 28 and I have recently discovered that I could possibly have sleep apnea. My duty section leader brought it to my attention not too long ago and said I need to get it checked out. I asked my wife if she noticed anything different while I sleep and she said I stop breathing in my sleep quite frequently. I woke up the other day to my wife crying and she had me sitting up while I was sleeping because it scared her so much. I don't know what to do because I have never had any health issues before. Any help would be greatly appreciated, Sir."

"I have never had any health issues before" might've screwed me, but I'm not a Doctor, so I don't know. 
 
Will a copy of that email conversation between the medical officer and I help my case? Should I submit it as evidence as "seeking treatment" while on active duty? Any other advice/tips?
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Hi Ademily87, welcome to Hadit. The supplemental claim is the correct submittal. All that you mention is  good evidence. Especially getting diagnosed right after getting out. If possible, if you could

You know many claims like OSA can also be part of a secondary mental health claim.  I have OSA and it is depressing as hell since I don't respond well to the CPAC.  Most physical disabilities have a e

When I was discharged back in 1971 I don't think OSA was even a recognized disorder.  I never went to a doctor about sleep issues because they would have laughed in my face back in the army of those d

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Hi Ademily87, welcome to Hadit. The supplemental claim is the correct submittal. All that you mention is  good evidence. Especially getting diagnosed right after getting out. If possible, if you could get a buddy letter from your ex, that would also help. Your doctor 's evidence is key to getting it service connected; he should be talking about continuity; how your OSA started in the service and you are diagnosed now as a continuation of that event. He should use words like "I my opinion, veteran has had OSA started while in the service, and I am confident after reviewing his military records and treating him since X that it is at lease as likely as not the cause of his OSA." And he  also provides his experience, level of education and professional petagree. The fact that you are issued a CPAP isn't good enough; have him diagnose your OSA and prescribe a CPAP machine. "Issuing" isn't good enough. This is a 50% rating; the VA doesn't like handing out 50% claims. Get a good package together before submitting again.

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You know many claims like OSA can also be part of a secondary mental health claim.  I have OSA and it is depressing as hell since I don't respond well to the CPAC.  Most physical disabilities have a emotional/ mental aspect to them that is secondary.  Don't ignore this factor.  If you have a severe physical disability by all means get mental health care from the VA.  You may not even know you  are depressed but it shows up in your behavior and interpersonal issues.  If you are a AO Vietnam vet then you may get DMII or one of the AO cancers.  That is depressing as hell because that is where I am at, so I am saying don't ignore secondary mental health issues related to your physical disabilities. It is easier to get a decent rating for a mental health issue than for a physical issue because it is subjective.  If you win a physical claim file for a mental health issue and gather evidence. The VA will help you gather the evidence.

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You do NOT have to prove you were "seeking treatment" in the military.  THIS instead is what you do need to prove:

1.  Current diagnosis of sleep apnea, and, that a cpap machine is "medically necessary. 

2.  In service event, or aggravation.  Were you punched in the face?  Is it documented?  Yes, its true that if you go to the doc, that could document an in service event or aggravation.  

3.  Nexus, or doc opinion your OSA is at least as likely as not related to military service.  

Get these Caluza's documented and you are good to go. OR

Also, as pointed out, if you get a cpap and if your doctor will provide a nexus statement "this Veterans OSA is at least as likely as not related to his (Service connected mental health issue)>.  

 

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Its almost impossible to have a service connection for Sleep Apnea IF YOU HAD NO ISSUES WITH OSA while in the military.

as broncovet mention  secondary claims will be the way to go

if you have a MH Service Connected condition

Example,  secondary claim  FOR SLEEP APNEA can be due to your MH Issues = PTSD.

YOU WOULD NEED A qualified Dr. to examine you and read  your medical records on this issue & connect the two  and mention  it is least likely as not this veterans service connected  PTSD AND THE MEDICATIONS he takes  (name the Medications)  is medically necessary he use a C-PAP Machine every night while he sleeps.

if you have any questions  please contact me @********* ^^^^^ 9:00 to5:00 Mon thu Friday

Thank You

Dr Roger Smith M.D.

state certified sleep specialist

credentials *********

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