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September 9, 2019

Is It Time To Challenge A Service-Connected Condition?

Last updated on March 29, 2021

Are you ready to challenge a service-connected condition?

Approximately 95% of the veterans we speak to are seeking an increase to their service-connected condition. However, most don’t know how much of an increase they may be eligible for, or they have no idea that based on how their condition is listed. For example, did you know that sprain or fracture affects the rating for that specific condition? You can’t fix what you don’t know! Veterans feel the negative impacts and overall deterioration of their ailments and believe they are entitled to more compensation. Rightfully so! 

If you don’t do your research, you could be challenging a condition that has maxed out in percentage or does not meet the defined criteria under the Code of Federal Regulations Title 38  (VA Law). I’m going to break down some of the more common disabilities that we see regularly. Unfortunately, most miss the mark on or have very little understanding of what’s required to achieve a higher rating. 

Auditory Conditions

Tinnitus

Did you ever wonder why you were rated for Tinnitus but not hearing loss? 

1) It means you passed your hearing test.  

2) your MOS, AFSC or Rating in the service was listed “most probable” to have Tinnitus or hearing loss. 

There’s a spreadsheet that the VA is “suppose” to use to make that determination. Yes, they have a spreadsheet that lists all of the occupations of all branches and use it as a guide to award the condition as service-connected. The ringing of the ears is awful and affects people in different ways. For some, the ringing is so unbearable that people have lost jobs and personal relationships because of the inability to communicate effectively. However, the max rating for that is 10%. Some have chronic pain associated with Tinnitus and can add secondary conditions once officially diagnosed. 

Meniere’s syndrome

My fellow Vets, please do not sleep on this condition! Stop chalking vertigo up as something that time will cure. Go get treated for it and once you have an official diagnosis (common theme, “official”) file for it. You can get rated between 30% – 100%. 

Bilateral Hearing Loss

If you “fail” your hearing test, then the odds of the decision are in your favor – 0 to 100% depending on the severity of your hearing loss. 

Respiratory System Conditions

Sleep Apnea Syndromes

Yes plural folks, syndromes. The typical syndrome is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). This condition requires a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Device (CPAP) and maxes out at 50%. 

However, a common condition most people have that goes undiagnosed is Persistent Day-Time Hypersomnolence. This condition carries a max 30% rating. The most severe form of sleep apnea syndrome is a chronic respiratory failure and requires proof of a tracheostomy to receive a 100% rating.   

Digestive System Conditions

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

Did you know that GERD is not listed in the CFR? The condition falls under Hernia Hiatal and carries a 10%, 30%, and 60% rating. If you’ve had rectal issues while serving, to include hemorrhoids or other conditions leading to digestive issues, please do your research. More likely than not, the medications you’ve taken over the years have probably caused your digestive problems. 

Musculoskeletal System

First off, stop self-treating these conditions. So many veterans will continue to brush themselves off and push through the pain or do some yoga stretches and shake it off. Get officially treated for these and all of your ailments. Here’s the thing you have to prove that these conditions still exist.

Furthermore, please stop assuming the VA is going to review your DD214 and know that since you were “infantry,” you must feel like a 90-year-old trapped in a 35-year-old body. You have to prove that your shoulders, back, knees, and feet still hurt. Get a new diagnosis with x rays or MRI’s to show the deterioration of the conditions. If arthritis is detected in the joints and comes with pain, you’ll get some rating love. Here’s a tip the VA has a “foot” fetish. Meaning plantar fasciitis or flat feet receives a higher rating than your lumbar. If they hurt, see a podiatrist STAT and then file for an increase. 

Mental Health

Diagnosed, undiagnosed, treated, or non-treated the facts are that the symptoms will never go away. They become manageable if treated but remain. Find out what you can qualify for with mental health. This guide will assist in your decision to challenge your current mental health rating: Symptoms vs. Occupational & Social Impairment      
Now is the time to take action towards your current VA disability rating! Open the CFR to see if your condition meets the criteria for an increase, then get a new diagnosis if you don’t already have one. 

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About the Author

VACI

VA Claims insider is an education-based coaching/consulting company. We’re here for disabled veterans exploring eligibility for increased VA disability benefits and who wish to learn more about that process. We also connect veterans with independent medical professionals in our referral network for medical examinations, disability evaluations, and credible Independent Medical Opinions & Nexus Statements (Medical Nexus Letters) for a wide range of disability conditions.

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