Sleep apnea appeal


I have a sleep apnea appeal going in front of a BVA judge in March. I had an accident in service in 1977. I rode a motorcycle at 60mph into the back of a stalled out truck. No head gear, came out with broken Tibia and Fibia along with 2 black eyes and unconscious for a day or so. The medical records show this. No report of TBI. I have been diagnoised with severe sleep apnea. I have a DBQ from my sleep Dr. at the VA stating that he believes that the sleep Apnea was caused by the accident. He also states that the cpap is medically necessary for me.  The C & P PA says no records of TBI then no service connect. I also have in my file a letter from my ex wife of my bad sleep habits. .... This time I have these same things along with an outside DR. showing that TBI is most certainly as not going to happen in this type of accident. Another letter from my ex wife stating my gasping for air, dry mouth, low energy, and snoring, during and after service. I believe that I have shown a nexus for service connect to the sleep apnea. In 1977 till 1982 when I got out, we never heard of sleep apnea. I also was told at the exit exam that I would never have any medical help from the VA since I was voluntary leaving the service. I am now 80% disabled from this accident. only been seeing the VA doctors for 6 years now. No record in service mr of sleep problems or TBI. I know that because most of my records are missing that it may come to... just because it is not written down does not mean that it did not happen. Your help is appreciated.

Jim's Reply:

I have to question some of what you tell me. When you say, "my sleep Dr. at the VA...believes that the sleep Apena was caused by the accident", I struggle with that. The 2 phrases that VBA looks for "was caused by", or "more likely than not caused by", indicating that there is a high degree (greater than 50%) of confidence that something is supported by legitimate evidence. Doctors aren't often in the habit of making such unequivocal statements and if the sleep doc said anything less, VA won't accept it. Even if he said that he'd have to prove it and I'm not sure how that would happen?  Letters from spouses, ex-spouses, teachers, preachers and siblings don't carry any weight at VBA. These people aren't medical experts and their comments on medical issues have no value. Snoring isn't the same as sleep apnea. Besides...what's someone close (or formerly close) to you going to say? VBA believes they may be a bit biased. You're targeting the 50% benefit based on an accident for which there is little or no real record of respiratory injury or distress that happened 40 years ago.  VBA recognizes that many vets are focused on the OSA benefit because of the hefty 50% rating and they really fight against it. Unless you have been diagnosed while on active duty or unless you have an expert Independent Medical Opinion (IMO) from a disability doctor, I don't see any path to prevailing in your claim.