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Is the VA compensating too many veterans for sleep apnea? Lawyer writes his congressman

Posted Jun 4, 2013 6:30 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A Florida lawyer says he is seeing an unusual number of veterans receiving disability benefits for sleep apnea in his family law practice.

Michael Webster, a lawyer in Shalimar, Fla., has decided that the boom in such payments is a scam, and he is asking his congressman to do something about it, Stars and Stripes reports. More than 100,000 military veterans and retirees are getting apnea payments, costing the Veterans Administration more than $1.2 billion a year, the story says.

Webster sent the letter to U.S. Rep. Rep. Jeff Miller, a Republican who chairs House Armed Services Committee. “Virtually every single family law case which I have handled involving military members during the past three years has had the military retiree receiving a VA ‘disability’ based upon sleep apnea,” Webster wrote. He told of hearing from a recently retired colonel that military members approaching retirement are briefed on the benefits of a sleep apnea disability.

Veterans who are prescribed treatment with a continuous-positive-airway-pressure machine for apnea occurring while in the service can receive a 50 percent disability rating, a level necessary to collect VA compensation without a cut in retirement pay, the story says. The benefits may boost monthly income by $810 or more.

“Somebody needs to blow the whistle,” Webster told Stars and Stripes. “By God, if somebody is disabled, compensate them. But this is a sham and it rankles me to the core.”

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