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Relying on mostly non-medical related documentation for Sleep Apnea claim?



Maybe this will give others ideas, or maybe someone will enlighten me on the likelihood that my claim will or will not be approved?

I have had my sleep apnea claim denied twice. I solely tried linking it as a secondary to Mental Health/Adjustment Disorder w/ Anxiety. The VA does not acknowledge that my 100 pounds gained during my last year or service and year after was due to my mental health service connection. I did not have any proof that I had sleep apnea during service from a doctor. I never had any appointment. Never had anyone sleep with me while I was in service, so noone had ever told me I was choking in my sleep.

I made a 3rd claim, as a disagreement with their decision. I was told that this one will have to go in front of a judge. This entire time, I had been researching all of my medical documents that pointed toward me having sleep apnea while I was in service. I couldnt find anything. However, I just realised that a few things happened outside of the doctors office. I fell asleep at the wheel and rear ended someone while driving during that last year of service. I fell asleep in my squadron while sitting at the training desk and got in trouble. At my first job outside of the military, I fell asleep all the time in my car outside of buildings (I travelled between 10 buildings doing IT work) and my boss found out and told me that I needed to correct this. This is what caused me to finally go get a sleep test, along with my new wife telling me that I always snored extremely loud. I married quick, long story. Anyway, the last extra piece of evidence was on my last mental health evaluation while in service. A few question specifically asks how many days in the past two weeks I have felt "tired" "exhausted like I need to sleep" with my answer of "every single day".

Does anyone here think its possible with all of this non-medical evidence and the last medical one, that it may be reasonable to assume that I might get service connected by the judge? As its pretty clear I had sleep apnea while in the service but it was undiagnosed?

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it could help establish a history since OSA rarely just 'presents' one day. I kept a sleep diary of sorts for several weeks, my wife wrote a statement about how she had to adapt her sleeping to wake up every so often every night and poke me to make sure I was breathing over the years, including while on leave a few times (she was home caring for my mom, so I was unaccompanied). We even documented the snoring- she recorded me with a couple date stamped phone recordings. Obviously I couldn't submit them directly but I COULD play them for my doctor, who then wrote up a dx of possible OSA based on the combination of thyroid, inactivity, chronic pain, and meds. 

Look also at your MH meds. I am rated for SA by way of meds and chronic pain. I had to an an RO level appeal for it, but it IS doable-IF it applies to you. You need to talk to your doctor/s about the meds you take and research the ones that you do to see if they can cause weight gain.

Also, obviously, rule out what you eat as a possible cause of weight gain. If you eat a medium PH pizza every other night or whatever, well, you know how that goes. But if you can establish a record with your doctor of having discussed diet along with your weight gain and you can rule that out it helps. I also have an extremely underactive thyroid and take testosterone for it.

I'm in the same boat as you, weight wise, and no matter what I do Its a huge struggle. If I eat anything with salt, bread, etc, I retain salt and water for DAYS. It sucks. Coupled with chronic pain and nerve pain I pay for any day I exercise dearly if I over do it. A side effect of my low T, low thyroid, chronic pain, pain killers, and weight it........you guessed it. So, it IS doable, but I don't recommend the cocktail that gets you there. 🙂



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IMHO (IN MY HUMBLE OPINION) you are still going to need a medical opinion. Why, the current rating for sleep apnea with the use of a CPAP machine is 50% and the VARO is challenging just about all sleep apnea claims. I had my VAMC Rheumatologist write my medical opinion and the VARO still sent me to a C & P exam requesting a medical opinion and the examiner was going to say that my sleep apnea was not related to my already service-connected fibromyalgia until I showed her a copy of my VAMC Rheumatologist’ medical opinion. She then wrote a statement that she agreed with my VAMC doctor’s medical opinion. 

As to lay statements, while in the military, you do/did not have to have someone sharing your bed, someone sleeping in the same room as barracks or a tent or finding you asleep in a computer room would help. Just the fact that you were found snoring would help. But you are still going to need a medical opinion. If you can have the clinic that did your sleep apnea evaluation test, review your military records and tell them the story you posted here could also help.

You are going to need a medical opinion that states that your sleep apnea is as least likely as not (50/50 probability) caused by or the result of your military service or an already service-connected disability. Having a medical opinion saying that it is possible will not help. The medical opinion must give a plausible medical rationale (reason how the two are related) and go from there.  

The strangest thing is the VARO will grant/award sleep apnea secondary to PTSD but not depression or anxiety just so you know. 

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Great news, Dustoff 11  We congratulate you for seeing it thru and winning a tough fight. Please continue to participate on Hadit as we all need people with your experience to pass along their knowledge.

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I did Win my claim without an IMO.  Mine is secondary to Burn pit exposure.  I sent all of the evidence of sleep apnea and my own Lay statements along with the doctor's notes who I talked to at the VA about it.

There are ways to win this, but I think mine were because of where I was and the exposure we had.  

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