VA Disability Rating for Insomnia
Veterans who suffer from insomnia can apply to the Department of Veterans Affairs for disability benefits, get assigned a VA disability rating, and receive monthly compensation for this condition. The VA generally assigns disability ratings for insomnia as secondary to other related service-connected disabilities such as post-traumatic stress disorder. Read more about the causes of insomnia, potential complications of this condition, and how to qualify for VA disability for your insomnia. For help filing a VA disability insomnia claim, contact Veterans Guide.
Insomnia is one of the most common sleeping disorders. Symptoms of insomnia include trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, and getting good quality sleep. When you suffer from insomnia, these problems persist despite changing the times you sleep and the environment in which you sleep. Insomnia can negatively impact your ability to function at work and in your personal life and leave you feeling chronically fatigued.
Insomnia occurring at least three times per week and lasting for a minimum of three months is considered chronic and is recognized as a disability on the VA’s disability rating schedule. If your insomnia is connected to your military service, you can apply for a VA disability rating to increase the monthly disability compensation you receive each month.
Veterans and Insomnia
The Sleep Foundation found that 25 percent of military service members suffer from insomnia, which researchers have linked to depression, mild traumatic brain injury, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Insomnia is usually assigned a secondary disability rating because it typically stems from another military-connected condition, illness, or injury.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a common primary disability connected to insomnia because high stress levels and the inability to relax cause difficulty falling asleep. Nightmares associated with post-traumatic stress disorder may also contribute to problems staying asleep. The sleep deprivation caused by insomnia is especially dangerous when you’re in a situation that requires you to react quickly, such as driving. Negative outcomes include the following:
- Drowsiness during the day
- Inability to concentrate or focus on tasks
- Low motivation
- Mood swings and irritability
- Delayed reaction times
- Impaired judgment
How Does the VA Rate Insomnia?
Insomnia is covered under the VA’s schedule of ratings for mental disorders. While it doesn’t have its own diagnostic code, insomnia is rated analogously to other mental health conditions. As a mental health disorder, the VA can assign an insomnia rating anywhere from 0 to 100 percent. Your rating will depend on the severity of your symptoms and how effectively you can tie your insomnia to your military service.
What VA Rating Can I Receive for Insomnia?
VA regulations for mental health disorders, including insomnia, recognize ratings of 0, 10, 30, 50, 70, and 100 percent disability. A 100 percent rating for insomnia alone would be unusual. Most insomnia ratings fall somewhere in the middle.
- 0 percent: With a zero percent insomnia disability rating, you are not eligible for compensation from the VA. This rating doesn’t mean the VA disbelieves you suffer from insomnia. Rather, the documentation you provided doesn’t show that insomnia is severely impacting your quality of life at this time. If you believe your rating is incorrect, you can appeal the decision.
- 10 percent: A 10 percent rating is assigned to veterans with mild insomnia symptoms that may come and go over time. They continue to function except in moments of extreme stress, and the condition is treated with continuing medication.
- 30 percent: A 30 percent rating demonstrates an occasional inability to work, chronic sleep impairment, and mild memory loss.
- 50 percent: Veterans with a 50 percent rating experience impaired judgment and abstract thinking, may have difficulty with relationships in the workplace, and show decreased occupational productivity.
- 70 percent: A 70 percent rating indicates severely impaired occupational and social functioning. The veteran lives in a near-constant state of panic or depression, which affects their ability to function independently.
- 100 percent: A 100 percent disability rating indicates total occupational and social impairment due to insomnia, meaning you cannot work and function in daily life.
How Can I Qualify for TDIU with Insomnia?
Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU) benefits are offered to veterans who do not have a combined VA disability rating of 100 percent but cannot work due to a service-connected disability. TDIU provides additional compensation to qualified veterans. Veterans eligible for TDIU must show they cannot find or maintain employment because of their disability.
You can qualify for TDIU if your insomnia disability rating or combined VA disability rating is 60 percent or higher.
Insomnia as a Secondary Disability
Insomnia usually results from or occurs with other medical conditions and military-connected illnesses and injuries, including the following:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Depression and anxiety
- Other mental health disorders
- Chronic pain from service-related injuries
- Chronic stress
What Is a Secondary Disability Rating?
If you suffer from another service-related condition that led to your insomnia diagnosis, you can apply for a secondary disability with the VA to increase your VA disability rating. To qualify for a secondary disability rating for insomnia, you will need to prove that:
- You have a current diagnosis of insomnia.
- Your insomnia is connected to another service-connected disability, or your military service worsened the condition.
How Is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Linked to Insomnia?
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental health disorder caused by experiencing or witnessing traumatic events. Since veterans with this disorder experience chronic stress and have trouble relaxing, insomnia often results.
How To Obtain VA Disability Compensation for Insomnia?
It can be challenging to get the VA to agree to a secondary disability rating for insomnia because it can be difficult to prove that your insomnia diagnosis is directly connected to your military service or service-connected disabilities. Before you file a VA disability claim for insomnia, it’s helpful to document your symptoms, date of diagnosis, and any treatment you undergo as evidence of your disability so that your claim is rated correctly. There are several steps you can take to help you document your insomnia:
- Keep copies of any sleep studies you undergo during diagnosis.
- Consider keeping a sleep journal.
- Document your symptoms, such as daytime drowsiness, lack of focus, or chronic fatigue.
- Note the use of medical or mental health interventions you’ve tried to treat your insomnia.
- If applicable, provide a written statement outlining how your insomnia interferes with your ability to work.
- Get a VA Nexus letter from your physician stating that your insomnia is secondary to another service-related condition.
- Keep copies of all medical records related to both primary and secondary medical conditions.
- Gather verbal or written testimony from family members on how both conditions impact your life.
You can file a VA disability compensation claim online. If you are filing an initial disability claim, the VA will start from scratch by gathering medical records and requesting a VA physical examination if required.
If this is a secondary service-connected claim, you must submit evidence of the new disability and provide a link between the primary condition for which you are already receiving compensation and insomnia. This typically requires medical records or a Nexus letter from your doctor supporting this connection.
Increasing your VA disability rating is often tedious, but it’s worth the compensation you’ll receive if you qualify. If you have additional questions regarding how to file for a VA disability rating for insomnia, reach out to Veterans Guide for more information.
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