Insomnia and VA Disability Benefits
What is Insomnia?
Insomnia is a sleep disorder that can make it hard to fall asleep, hard to stay asleep, or cause someone to wake up too early and not be able to get back to sleep. People with the condition can feel dissatisfied with their sleep and experience negative impacts to their energy level, mood, health, work performance, and quality of life. Symptoms may include:
- Difficulty falling asleep at night
- Waking up during the night
- Waking up too early
- Not feeling well-rested after a night’s sleep
- Daytime tiredness or sleepiness
- Irritability, depression, or anxiety
- Difficulty paying attention, focusing on tasks or remembering
- Increased errors or accidents
- Ongoing worries about sleep
Depending on the circumstances, diagnosing insomnia may involve the following:
- Physical Exam. If the cause of the condition is unknown then a doctor or examiner may perform a physical examination to look for medical problems that may be related to insomnia.
- Sleep Habits Review. The doctor may have the patient complete a questionnaire to determine their sleep-wake pattern and level of daytime sleepiness.
- Sleep Study. If the cause the condition is unknown or unclear, it may be necessary to spend a night at a sleep center where tests are done to monitor and record a variety of body activities while they sleep.
How to Get VA Disability Rating?
It is common with insomnia for it to develop later on after service as a result of another disability. If the primary condition is already service-connected, then service connection may be granted on a secondary basis. For example, insomnia is associated with mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Insomnia can also be caused by pain from other disabilities.
If the insomnia is the primary condition and later causes additional conditions, secondary service connection may still be warranted. For example, if a veteran is service connected for insomnia and then develops anxiety related to their lack of sleep, they may be eligible for VA disability benefits for anxiety.
How is Insomnia Rated?
The VA typically rates insomnia under the Schedule of Ratings for Mental Disorders. However, the VA tends to rate the condition as a symptom of an underlying mental health condition, such as depression. If a veteran is service-connected for depression and suffers from insomnia as a result, it is likely that the VA will consider the insomnia in its evaluation of the veteran’s depression.
If the veteran’s insomnia is not caused by a mental health condition, but is caused by some other condition (i.e. back condition), then the VA will assign a separate disability rating for insomnia based on the Schedule of Ratings for Mental Disorders.
Bosley & Bratch have been supporting veterans in getting the benefits they deserve since 1995. If you or a loved one served, and suffer from insomnia, we are here to help. Call Bosley & Bratch at (727) 274-9227 or complete our free veterans benefits case evaluation form.