Tinnitus, sleep apnea and depression


I have service connected tinnitus and I've been recently diagnosed with sleep apnea. I've seen a lot medical documentation where tinnitus can cause sleep apnea. I remember when I was serving my shipmates use to complain that they couldn't sleep because of my loud snoring, I can get get letters from them stating so. One other thing is that I was also diagnosed with depression in which I've seen plenty of medical evidence where depression can be secondary to tinnitus. My question is what would be the best to file a claim for or what is best for me?

Jim's Reply:

Trying to prove that OSA is secondary to tinnitus is a very long reach. "Buddy letters" attesting to your snoring won't help...snoring isn't sleep apnea and your buddies aren't doctors so they can't make a medical diagnosis. You say you have all kinds of documentation that depression may be secondary to tinnitus and I can't find anything like that. There's a lot about depression with profound hearing loss but very little about tinnitus. VA is very aware that veterans are applying like crazy for the OSA benefit since it's a 50% rating. When you file for OSA without really solid evidence like an Independent Medical Opinion (IMO) you annoy the rater who has to slog through the claim and all too often they try to reduce other benefits. There are 3 doctors on my VAWatchdog site who I refer to for IMOs...if you can get one of them to write that it's more likely than not that your SC tinnitus causes or contributes to your OSA or depression...then you've got what may be a claim. Unless you have that IMO, I doubt you have much chance of a supportive adjudication.