It has been recently passed by the legislature that Chronic Pain can be filed as a primary disability with the VA, check out this link.
In this article, we will explain in depth how chronic pain as a primary claim came about. However, there are some things you need to be aware of before your application will be considered. Many of you have conditions that are obvious to a VA rater as being service-connected; chronic pain is not one of them. Chronic pain is considered hard to prove condition which is what makes it so tricky.
We would like to break down the ways to get around the red tape to get you the compensation you deserve.
How to file
Chronic Pain can be submitted as a primary or secondary to other service related conditions. With this, you will need to understand how primary and secondary claims are rated. First off, when filing the initial primary claim, you have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, that your military service directly causes it. Secondly, to keep your current rating or increase it from the VA, you have to prove, that is has created your “quality of life” and “impairment to your earning capabilities”, and has progressively gotten worse over time.
Thanks to the Saunders vs. McDonald claim (see article above) it is now possible to file Chronic Pain as a primary rateable claim. It was argued and appealed by the definitions the VA uses to give monetary compensation. Per the article, “For these reasons, we find that “disability” in § 1110 refers to the functional impairment of earning capacity, not the underlying cause of said disability. 2. Pain Alone May Be a Functional Impairment.”
The catch is most veterans applying for Chronic Pain, need medical documentation from their enlistment to establish a starting point and evidence of pain, to see if the progression is now interfering with your earning capacity. If the injury is no longer in question, it is the evidence of pain that must be linked to enlistment to be considered.
Secondary Conditions for Chronic Pain
Now that we have successfully explained a primary claim for Chronic Pain, we can look at secondary conditions that are directly linked to this specific disability. It is proven that depression is linked to many quality of life problems that can also interfere with your earning capabilities.
Let’s say during service you started experiencing all over joint pain. You are seen on several occasions, but they cannot pinpoint the cause, and they treat you for it. As time goes by, you are discharged, and the condition continues to worsen. You have a hard time walking, standing, and sitting for any period of time; you have constant pain when doing any of these tasks. Arthritis is getting bothersome and it is hard to enjoy the life you had before the pain started. Work becomes a dread, exercise is out of the question, tossing the ball with the kids is no longer; all of these things causes loss of interest and many other emotional debilitating problems.
Now let’s take it a step further, depression has been linked to Chronic Pain and now is interfering with your quality of life and earning capabilities, here is your secondary claim.
With any claim, it is necessary to gather evidence to support it, including linking it to your service. If you are just starting the process, you will need these things to file your Chronic Pain claim successfully. After you have a diagnosis and the link, submit this as your primary.
Once you have been rated on that, it will be in your best interest to start on your secondaries if you have any. It is necessary, for the secondaries to be approved, to get a medical opinion as to how they all are associated with the Chronic Pain.
After researching Chronic Pain and Depression, many vets have discovered that it is very prevalent in PTSD patients. PTSD is debilitating and most who suffer from it also have secondary conditions that are ratable. If you are not sleeping, over-weight, no appetite, living in a hyper-anxious state, or other conditions that interfere with your mobility; you will typically have pain associated with it. The pain along with PTSD can also cause depression, which can be a VA disability claim as well.
Hopefully, this is has been a helpful read as to how the process works for these newer conditions that the VA is starting to rate on. Here at VA Claims Insider, we work with veterans who have chronic pain daily.
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