Does evidence of snoring in service – alone – prove your claim to service connect sleep apnea?
No, it does not.
Unfortunately, though, snoring is what most people think sleep apnea is all about – including BVA judges. Any many veterans think that by proving they snored in service, they have found the easiest way to prove a VA sleep apnea claim.
While snoring is an important indicator of a sleep breathing disorder, and can be related to the cessation of breathing during sleep that is the hallmark symptom of sleep apnea, merely alleging snoring during service, even in an affidavit to the VA, is not going to prove that your sleep apnea is related to your service.
So what does help you prove your claim to service connect your diagnosis of sleep apnea?
In my experience, the one thing that the veteran requires to establish service connection, and the one thing most commonly missing in claims for sleep apnea that have been denied, is the right kind of medical evidence.
We all know that building the bridge of service connection requires proof of a current disability and a relationship of that disability to service.
Proving that service connection bridge in VA sleep apnea claims is no different.
First, your sleep apnea VA disability claim must provide medical evidence that you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea.
The ONLY way to prove a current diagnosis of sleep apnea in a VA disability claim is with a sleep study.
And the diagnosis of sleep apnea is what drives a VA disability compensation claim to service connect the condition.
Incidentally, if you want to learn more about HOW to service connect sleep apnea – or any condition – check out the training course “How to Prove Service Connection in a VA claim.” If you are a subscriber to the Veterans Law Blog®, you get a free copy. Click on “My Courses” in the upper right hand of this page, and you will see all the video training courses that come with a subscription to the Veterans Law Blog®.
Second, your sleep apnea VA disability claim must provide evidence that your current diagnosis of sleep apnea is related to your military service.
This can often be easy if you were diagnosed with sleep apnea while in service.
While that fact does not by itself prove nexus, it is an important piece of evidence.
However, not many veterans had a sleep study in service, and as a result, do not have a sleep apnea diagnosis in service that can be related to the current diagnosis in a VA sleep apnea disability claim.
And this is where a lot of veterans get tripped up in a sleep apnea VA disability claim.
They use testimony or lay evidence that they snored a lot in service to attempt to establish that relationship of their sleep apnea to military service in a sleep apnea VA disability claim.
Now, that evidence can be helpful, and I am not saying to leave it out of your proof in a sleep apnea VA disability claim.
What I am saying is that if the ONLY evidence you have to connect your sleep apnea to military service in a sleep apnea VA disability claim is evidence of in-service snoring, you are going to lose.
The symptoms of sleep apnea include not just snoring, but cessation of breathing while sleeping, excessive daytime hyper-somnolence, headaches, waking up feeling unrested after a full night of sleep.
In fact, whether you have obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea, or complex sleep apnea, there are so many more symptoms – and so many more IMPORTANT symptoms – of sleep apnea that you need to establish occurred in your military service to prove and hopefully win a sleep apnea VA disability claim.
I talk about a few in the video above, and I talk extensively about the symptoms of sleep apnea and the different – and effective – ways to relate those symptoms to military service.
If you want to learn more about how to prove and hopefully win a sleep apnea VA disability claim, check out my VA Sleep Apnea Field Manual.
If you are a subscriber to the Veterans Law Blog®, you get FREE access to the VA Sleep Apnea Field Manual, as well as all of my eBooks and training courses.
Simply click on “My Account” in the upper right corner, and then choose “downloads” on the left hand column. If you are a current subscriber to the Veterans Law Blog® you will have access to a copy of the book. If not, use the contact form at the bottom of the page.
For those of you who have been denied service connection of your sleep apnea because you relied exclusively on snoring in service as your in-service event, you should check out a copy of the VA Sleep Apnea Field Manual to understand what evidence the VA will need to see, and then file a supplemental claim.
You might also read this post about some important lessons to learn about service-connection in VA claims for sleep apnea.
And once your sleep apnea is a service connected disability, don’t forget to read up on how to maximize your VA disability rating for sleep apnea.