A reader writes:

Did you know that sleep apnea is a Veterans Administration rated disability? It's a 50 percent disability which is $770/month tax free for a single claimant.

I'm not very fat, but I knew I snored badly. I also suffered from severe fatigue but didn't really know why. When I was getting ready to retire from the military, I had heard from other guys about how sleep apnea was an easy way to get a 50 percent disability rating and the money and benefits that come with it. So I decided to go down to the VA hospital at the DC hospital center to get evaluated. As it turns out, I have moderate levels of sleep apnea.

I was kind of psyched to get the rating because I knew that that extra $770/month was going to be the difference between finding a job I was happy to do or not working at all. But after just a few days with the machine, I was amazed at how much better I felt. The first few nights I woke up the next morning feeling like I just woke up after not sleeping for years. I never felt so refreshed. I still eagerly wear the head gear every night, despite it's unsexiness. (Tony Soprano was talking to Uncle Junior in a doctor's office while Junior was being fitted with the mask. Tony asks Junior how many MiGs he shot down last month!).

Part of me is sometimes a little guilty because I get more VA disability that many guys who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. I raised that issue during the Transition Assistance Program class I went to, and the facilitator told us not to worry, since allegedly the government has been planning for our eventual disability since the first day we enlisted, so we are just claiming what is due to us. It is interesting to compare the 50 percent disability that sleep apnea gives people to the disability ratings given to people by things such as deafness, missing digits, limbs or other more traumatic ways of getting into the VA system.

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