Military service can have a lasting psychological impact, making it more difficult for Veterans to return to civilian life. However, not all disabilities are clearly discernable. Some conditions leave no physical marks but nonetheless impair Veterans’ quality of life.
Insomnia, alongside other sleep-related disorders, can make readapting to an ordinary routine all the more challenging.
Insomnia is a sleep-related disorder characterized by difficulty falling or staying asleep. People who have been diagnosed with insomnia may feel tired during the day, complicating their ability to stay productive and perform at work.
Physicians typically categorize insomnia as either of the following:
- Acute insomnia. Acute insomnia, or insomnia that appears suddenly, usually lasts for a short period of time. This condition may be caused by physical discomfort, medical abnormalities, and hormonal irregularities. Acute insomnia sometimes disappears without treatment. However, if acute insomnia is related to post-traumatic stress disorder or another psychological condition, it could become a longer-lasting problem.
- Chronic insomnia. Chronic insomnia is a complex disorder that can impair and impede a Veteran’s regular sleep cycle. While every case is different, chronic insomnia can make it difficult for patients to fall asleep each and every night. Chronic insomnia can be a life-long disability and may require intensive treatment.
The Causes of Insomnia
Acute and chronic insomnia have several well-documented causes, including:
- Psychiatric disorders, including depression, general anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Physical injuries
- Chronic pain
- Medication-related side-effects
- Lifestyle changes, such as a sudden alteration to a Veteran’s health or routine
Both acute and chronic insomnia can be considered disabling. While the Department of Veterans Affairs offers benefits for persons diagnosed with this condition, claimants must typically be able to demonstrate their insomnia was likely caused by military service.
Filing a VA Claim for Insomnia
You may be able to obtain disability benefits for insomnia if you can show that the condition is connected to your prior military service. Before filing a claim, you must have the following:
- An insomnia diagnosis from an authorized medical professional.
- A description or explanation of how your military service caused or contributed to the development of either acute insomnia or chronic insomnia.
- An official letter from your health care provider, often referred to as a medical nexus, stating that the insomnia was most likely caused by prior military service.
While every disability claim is different, Veterans who have served in combat or suffered serious physical injuries may be at increased risk of developing acute or chronic insomnia. However, the event that caused the insomnia need not be related to active-duty deployment.
Insomnia and Secondary Service Connections
A secondary service connection is a claim for a new disability that is related to a service-related disability that you already receive benefits for. Veterans may file secondary service connection claims to receive additional or supplemental benefits.
For many Veterans, insomnia is a byproduct of a related disability already rated and approved by the Department of Veterans Affairs. If, for example, you have been diagnosed with service-related post-traumatic stress disorder, you may be able to demonstrate that your insomnia is a byproduct of your PTSD.
If your claim is approved, then the post-traumatic stress disorder would be considered a primary condition, while insomnia would be a secondary service-related condition.
Under certain, limited circumstances, Veterans who were diagnosed with insomnia before entering the military may also be able to obtain benefits if they can show that their service aggravated their disorder.
VA Disability Ratings for Chronic and Acute Insomnia
The Department of Veterans Affairs has no designated diagnostic code for either chronic insomnia or acute insomnia. Instead, the VA considers all categories of insomnia as mental health disorders that can be compensated as related conditions.
Since the VA has no single diagnostic code for insomnia, it may be awarded a disability rating anywhere between 0% and 100%. Higher ratings typically indicate that the Veteran’s life has been more severely impacted by the disorder.
Contact a Veterans Affairs Attorney Today
Insomnia can be a life-altering disability. If you, or a loved one, have been diagnosed with chronic or acute insomnia that you believe is most likely service-connected, you could be entitled to significant disability benefits. However, navigating the Department of Veterans Affairs’ labyrinthine bureaucracy can be challenging.
Fortunately, you do not have to file your claim alone. Sean Kendall, Attorney at Law, is committed to providing unparalleled service to American patriots. Please send us a message online or call us toll-free at 877-629-1712 to schedule your initial consultation as soon as possible.