Sleep Apnea Secondary Service Connection

Author: Perkins Studdard Veterans Law

Hello veterans. My name is Travis Studdard, a veterans disability attorney. Today I want to talk to you about service connection for sleep apnea and specifically how to do that on a secondary basis. Recently I talked in another video about direct service connection for your sleep apnea and that's in a situation where you either have a diagnosis in service or you have symptoms in service that a doctor can say was in fact sleep apnea. But you know you may not be able to prove that or you may be a veteran who simply did not have symptoms of sleep apnea during your service but it developed at some point after your discharge. So in that situation the question is: Are you out of luck in terms of gaining service connection? You may be or you may not be.

It just depends on what it is that you can prove. That comes to whether you can prove secondary service connection. To illustrate that point, let me give you an example of a veteran that we helped recently. This veteran broke his nose in service and it was a pretty significant break in that the bone and cartilage were knocked off-center which resulted in what's called a deviated septum. When that happens it often obstructs the flow of air through each nostril at that point which can cause respiratory problems as a result of that.

In that situation what we were able to do, by the way the deviated septum happened in service so that was a service connected disability, so what we were trying to do is show that the deviated septum then caused the sleep apnea which would then be related on a secondary basis. What we did is we got a doctor to explain in detail how that deviated septum obstructed the airway which caused airway resistance and impeded the flow of oxygen, which then created pressure changes in the veteran's nose and in his lungs and how that then spirals onward to developing sleep apnea which is by definition the stopping of breathing while you're sleeping. Again we did that with medical evidence. To do that sort of situation you're not going to be able to do it with lay statements. It may seem obvious to you, the veteran, that, "Hey, I broke my nose. It was off-center. I couldn't breathe and obviously that caused sleep apnea." It may be obvious to you but it's not going to be obvious to the V.A.

And they're not going to grant you service connection just by you saying so. You're going to need again medical evidence explaining in detail the connection between the service connected disability and your sleep apnea. Again, the two important takeaways: Knowing when you may have a sleep apnea claim. You can do it on direct service connection or as we've talked about here secondary service connection.

Sleep Apnea Secondary Service Connection

When you may have a claim and then secondly, how do you prove that. Again we've gone through just one of the examples. There's other ways as well depending on your type of sleep apnea and your underlying disability that's already service connected. If you have questions you can give us a call or reach out to us on the web. You can like this video by giving it a thumbs up and check out some of our others on sleep apnea and other service related disabilities. Thank you for watching today.

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