According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, the agency spends over $1.2 billion every year to treat soldiers for sleep apnea. The number of veterans and military retirees receiving disability benefits through the VA for sleep apnea has spiked in recent years.
With the number of veterans needing treatment for the condition increasing, it is estimated that the VA now spends $1.2 billion annually on the sleep apnea treatment. The number of such cases is a small fraction of disability compensation claims, overall, but large enough that it has prompted calls for Congress to investigate.
Some believe the increase is due to dubious claims in which veterans hope to qualify for an automatic 50 percent disability rating and thereby qualify for “concurrent payment status.” But according to some, even some in the VA, much of the recent expansion in sleep apnea claims is because of increased awareness of the illness and the compensation now available.
Whether or not there are dubious sleep apnea claims out there, though, it is not up to the VA to decide what is and is not legitimate. As long as the requirements for coverage are adequately met, veterans should receive compensation.
While no similar trend is to be seen in the Social Security disability program, it is possible that sleep apnea could be so severe that, in combination with other conditions, a person could qualify for SSDI. That said, most people who have the condition will have a hard time qualifying for SSDI unless there are some complications from the condition.
Those who think they may qualify for SSDI based on sleep apnea should work closely with an SSDI attorney to ensure they put together the best possible application.
Source: The Daily Caller, “VA disability claims for sleep apnea skyrocket to over $1.2 billion per year,” Caroline May, June 4, 2013.