VA Migraines and Sleep Apnea: Understanding Eligibility and Filing Claims

Migraines and sleep apnea can be connected as each of these conditions can worsen the other.

The American Migraine Foundation claims that people suffering from migraines are two to eight times more likely to get sleep disorders. 

Therefore, if you are a veteran with migraine attacks, you may also be experiencing sleep apnea. If that’s the case, you can get VA disability benefits for both!

This article will go through the details of sleep apnea and migraines and then educate you on how to get disability compensation for these disorders as a veteran. Let’s get started!


Take advantage of a FREE VA Claim Discussion with an experienced Team Member. Learn what you’ve been missing so you can FINALLY get the disability rating and compensation you’ve earned for your service.

Migraines and Sleep Apnea: An Overview

Just like migraines can cause sleep apnea, the opposite can also be true, where sleeping disorders can make your migraines worse.

Here are more details on both of these conditions and how they can be connected.

VA Migraines and Sleep Apnea


Migraines are headaches with throbbing pain on one or more sides of your head, often making you sensitive to light and sound, as well as causing nausea and vomiting in some cases.

Studies suggest that one in every fifteen men suffers from migraines, and the number is even higher for the opposite gender, as one in every five women can be affected by this condition.

Causes: While it is unclear what specifically causes migraines, this condition results from unusual activities in your brain that can get triggered some something. Migraine triggers can be hormonal, physical, emotional, environmental, or dietary.

For example, the stress and anxiety you face in the military can trigger migraines.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a kind of sleep disorder where your breathing stops and starts regularly, accompanied by loud snoring and tiredness after waking up.

There are three main types of sleep apnea:

  • Obstructive: Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) results from your throat muscle blocking the air from reaching the lungs. This is the most common type of sleep apnea.
  • Central: Central sleep apnea (CSA) is a result of wrong signals from the brain that causes miscommunication with your muscles that control breathing.
  • Complex: When you receive treatments from OSA, and it converts to CSA, it is called treatment-emergent central or complex sleep apnea.

Causes: Factors like excessive weight, smoking, and other medical conditions can cause risk factors for obstructive sleep apnea. Older men with heart disorders have a high chance of central sleep apnea. 

Sleep Apnea

The Connection Between Migraines and Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea and migraines can be linked, as people with migraines are more likely to experience sleep disorders. Sleep loss or oversleeping can trigger headaches, worsening your migraines. Moreover, people with sleep apnea usually experience morning headaches, which can be worse for people with migraines. 

While these two conditions may not be directly linked, they can worsen each other. Therefore, you may be able to receive VA disability benefits for these disorders.

Eligibility for VA Disability Compensation

The VA provides veterans disability compensation if they are suffering from a service-related condition or illness. When it comes to migraines and sleep apnea, VA has different criteria to measure the amount of compensation you will receive and if you will receive any benefits at all! 

Eligibility for Migraines

  • You experience migraines on a regular basis.
  • Your migraine attacks are prostrating, leaving you incapable of engaging in daily activities.
  • Your migraines have resulted or worsened from your time in service. 

Eligibility for Sleep Apnea

  • You experience sleep apnea with clear symptoms.
  • Your sleep apnea has resulted or worsened from your time in service.

Combining VA Migraines and Sleep Apnea Claims

When you have multiple medical conditions and seek VA claims for them simultaneously, it can be classified as a combined claim.

A combined claim is usually helpful when you are claiming your compensation for multiple related conditions. In this case, migraines and sleep apnea can be related, so you can go for a combined claim effort.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Combining Claims

Filing for a migraine claim and a sleep apnea claim separately can mean it will take over six months to get your benefits for both of them. 

When you combine both of the claims together, you can get a decision from the VA quicker, therefore getting your compensation much earlier than before. 

However, a combined claim can take more than than a single claim alone. For example, a migraine claim itself will not take as long as a combined claim of migraines and sleep apnea.

VA Disability Compensation Benefit Rates

The VA provides compensation benefit rates based on your disability rating. You may receive more compensation if you have a spouse or parent or both. 

For migraines, you can receive a disability rating of 0%, 10%, 30%, or 50%. On the other hand, sleep apnea does not have a ceiling on the VA rating scale, and you can receive anything from a 0%, 30%, 50%, and 100% rating.

Visit the official compensation rate page of the VA to find out how much money you may get from monthly payments from your VA rating.

Understanding the Importance of Strong Medical Evidence

When you provide relevant medical evidence on your claim, you can avoid the risk of getting denied and also receive a proper disability rating. 

The following types of medical documents may aid your claim:

  • A diagnosis by a medical professional
  • A Nexus Letter connecting your condition to your time in service
  • Any other relevant documents supporting your claim

To make your claim even stronger, get your diagnosis from a specialist instead of a general practitioner, as their claims can prove more valuable to the VA.


Migraines and sleep apnea together can make a veteran’s life miserable, leaving them unable to work and participate in life in a healthy way. By making a proper combined claim with relevant evidence, you can receive your VA benefits. Contact VA Disability Coach to get help on this tiring process.