According to figures from the Veterans’ Administration, claims for sleep apnea among veterans has more than doubled since 2009, with compensation for the condition likely to top $1 billion this year.

Greater Awareness, Higher Disability Lead to Higher Compensation

According to the USA Today, one of the main reasons why compensation is so high for sleep apnea treatment is that nearly 90% of veterans who are compensated for sleep apnea are considered 50% or more disabled from the condition. This disability rating reflects the potential for impairment of work that can come with sleep apnea.

Although age and obesity are major factors in the increasing rates of sleep apnea claims, about 94% of them coming from Gulf War and anti-terrorist wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, is most likely due to increased awareness of the condition and its potential health consequences, such as heart disease.

It’s also possible that treating sleep apnea may result in a net savings for the VA the way it saves money for businesses and for private insurance.

Is the Disability Level Set Accurately?

There is some question about whether the army is accurately rating the disability level of veterans with sleep apnea. The current standard of 50% disability is that a soldier or Marine needs a CPAP machine to help them sleep.

However, a spokesman for the Veterans of Foreign Wars defends the diagnosis, the rating, and the compensation. “Sleep apnea is a medical evaluation that can’t be gamed, and something that must have been documented while in service,” the spokesman said. “The 50% disability evaluation could be because a good night’s sleep is critical to everything we do.”

As, indeed, a good night’s sleep is essential to everything you do. It also has to be noted that despite the fact that CPAP is the standard treatment for sleep apnea, treatment doesn’t always resolve the condition or its consequences, such as diabetes.