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March 24, 2024

What is the VA Rating for Celiac Disease?

Last updated on March 29, 2024

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Effective May 19, 2024, under the new Diagnostic Code (DC) 7355, veterans are now eligible for a VA rating for Celiac Disease ranging from 30% to 80% with a break at 50%.

Your final Celiac Disease VA rating depends on the frequency (how often), severity (how bad), and duration (how long) of symptoms and how those symptoms negatively impact your work, life, and social functioning.

>> Read more about the VA digestive system rating changes here.

Summary of Main Points

  • Celiac Disease now has its own DC 7355 under CFR Title 38, Part 4, the Schedule for Rating Disabilities.
  • Service-connected Celiac Disease is rated at 30%, 50%, or 80% depending on the frequency, severity, and duration of symptoms and how those symptoms negatively affect your work, life, and social functioning.
  • If you already have a VA rating for Celiac Disease, there will be no change to your current VA rating—you are “grandfathered” in under the old rating criteria.

What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder characterized by an intolerance to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye.

When veterans with celiac disease consume gluten, it triggers an immune response in their small intestine, leading to inflammation and damage to the intestinal lining.

This damage impairs the absorption of nutrients from food, leading to various symptoms and potential long-term health complications.

Symptoms of Celiac Disease in Veterans

Symptoms of celiac disease can vary widely and may include gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating, and constipation.

However, it can also manifest non-gastrointestinal symptoms such as fatigue, anemia, bone or joint pain, skin rashes, and neurological symptoms like headaches or tingling sensations.

The only effective treatment for celiac disease is strict adherence to a gluten-free diet.

By avoiding gluten-containing foods, veterans with celiac disease can prevent further damage to their intestines and alleviate symptoms.

It’s important for those diagnosed with celiac disease to carefully read food labels and be vigilant about cross-contamination to ensure they are not inadvertently consuming gluten.

If left untreated, celiac disease can lead to serious complications such as malnutrition, osteoporosis, infertility, neurological disorders, and an increased risk of certain cancers.

Thus, early diagnosis and proper management are essential for veterans with celiac disease to maintain their health and well-being.

VA Rating for Celiac Disease

The VA now rates Celiac Disease under the brand-new DC 7355 with ratings of 30%, 50%, or 80% as follows:

80% VA Disability Rating for Celiac Disease

  • Celiac Disease with malabsorption syndrome with weakness which interferes with activities of daily living; and weight loss resulting in wasting and nutritional deficiencies; and with systemic manifestations including but not limited to, weakness and fatigue, dermatitis, lymph node enlargement, hypocalcemia, low vitamin levels; and anemia related to malabsorption; and episodes of abdominal pain and diarrhea due to lactase deficiency or pancreatic insufficiency.  

What does the 80 percent rating criteria mean for you?

  • Malabsorption Syndrome: This refers to a condition where the small intestine is unable to properly absorb nutrients from food. In the context of celiac disease, the damage to the intestinal lining can lead to malabsorption of essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and fats.
  • Weakness Interfering with Activities of Daily Living: This suggests that the individual’s weakness is severe enough to impact their ability to carry out normal daily activities.
  • Weight Loss Resulting in Wasting and Nutritional Deficiencies: Due to malabsorption, the individual may experience significant weight loss, leading to muscle wasting and deficiencies in essential nutrients.
  • Systemic Manifestations: These are symptoms or effects of celiac disease that extend beyond the gastrointestinal system and affect other parts of the body. Examples mentioned include weakness and fatigue, dermatitis (skin inflammation), lymph node enlargement, hypocalcemia (low calcium levels), low levels of various vitamins, and anemia.
  • Episodes of Abdominal Pain and Diarrhea: These are common symptoms of celiac disease and can occur due to lactase deficiency (inability to digest lactose, a sugar found in dairy products) or pancreatic insufficiency (inadequate production of digestive enzymes by the pancreas).

50% VA Disability Rating for Celiac Disease

  • Celiac Disease with malabsorption syndrome with chronic diarrhea managed by medically prescribed dietary intervention such as prescribed gluten-free diet, with nutritional deficiencies due to lactase and pancreatic insufficiency; and with systemic manifestations including, but not limited to, weakness and fatigue, dermatitis, lymph node enlargement, hypocalcemia, low vitamin levels, or atrophy of the inner intestinal lining shown on biopsy.

What does the 50 percent rating criteria mean for you?

  • Malabsorption Syndrome: This indicates the presence of celiac disease, an autoimmune condition triggered by gluten ingestion, which leads to damage to the small intestine’s lining. Malabsorption syndrome refers to the impaired absorption of nutrients from the intestine due to this damage.
  • Chronic Diarrhea: The individual experiences long-term diarrhea as a symptom of celiac disease. Chronic diarrhea is one of the common gastrointestinal manifestations of the condition.
  • Managed by Medically Prescribed Dietary Intervention: The management approach involves a medically prescribed gluten-free diet. This diet eliminates gluten-containing foods to prevent further damage to the intestine and alleviate symptoms.
  • Nutritional Deficiencies Due to Lactase and Pancreatic Insufficiency: Besides malabsorption caused by celiac disease, there are additional nutrient absorption issues related to lactase deficiency (inability to digest lactose, leading to intolerance of dairy products) and pancreatic insufficiency (inadequate production of digestive enzymes by the pancreas).
  • Systemic Manifestations: Similar to the previous statement, systemic manifestations refer to symptoms or effects of celiac disease that extend beyond the gastrointestinal system. These may include weakness and fatigue, dermatitis (skin inflammation), lymph node enlargement, hypocalcemia (low calcium levels), low levels of various vitamins, or atrophy of the inner intestinal lining shown on biopsy.

30% VA Disability Rating for Celiac Disease

  • Celiac Disease with malabsorption syndrome with chronic diarrhea managed by medically prescribed dietary intervention such as prescribed gluten-free diet; and without nutritional deficiencies.

What does the 30 percent rating criteria mean for you?

  • Malabsorption Syndrome: This indicates the presence of celiac disease, an autoimmune condition triggered by gluten ingestion, which leads to damage to the small intestine’s lining. Malabsorption syndrome refers to the impaired absorption of nutrients from the intestine due to this damage.
  • Chronic Diarrhea: The individual experiences long-term diarrhea as a symptom of celiac disease. Chronic diarrhea is one of the common gastrointestinal manifestations of the condition.
  • Managed by Medically Prescribed Dietary Intervention: The management approach involves a medically prescribed gluten-free diet. This diet eliminates gluten-containing foods to prevent further damage to the intestine and alleviate symptoms.
  • Without Nutritional Deficiencies: Unlike some cases of celiac disease where malabsorption leads to nutrient deficiencies, in this case, there are no nutritional deficiencies observed. This suggests that despite the chronic diarrhea and malabsorption, the individual’s nutritional status remains adequate, possibly due to effective management with a gluten-free diet.

Important Notes for Rating Celiac Disease:

Note #1: An appropriate serum antibody test or endoscopy with biopsy must confirm the diagnosis.

Note #2: For evaluation of celiac disease with the predominant disability of malabsorption, use the greater evaluation between DC 7328 or celiac disease under DC 7355.

What If I Already Have VA Disability for Celiac Disease?

If you already have VA disability for Celiac Disease, there will be no change to your current VA disability rating; you are “grandfathered” in under the old rating criteria.

A reduction in evaluation will only occur if there is improvement in a disability sufficient to warrant a reduction under the former criteria.

All VA claims related to these digestive systems that were submitted and in “pending” status as of May 19, 2024, will be considered under both the old and new rating criteria, and whichever criteria is more favorable to the veteran will be applied.

In summary, get your VA claim submitted now!

Why?

Because the VA rater must consider both the old and new criteria, and select the rating that’s most favorable to you.

About the Author

Brian Reese
Brian Reese

Brian Reese

Brian Reese is one of the top VA disability benefits experts in the world and bestselling author of You Deserve It: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Veteran Benefits You’ve Earned (Second Edition).

Brian’s frustration with the VA claim process led him to create VA Claims Insider, which provides disabled veterans with tips, strategies, and lessons learned to win their VA disability compensation claim, faster, even if they’ve already filed, been denied, gave up, or don’t know where to start. 

As the founder of VA Claims Insider and CEO of Military Disability Made Easy, he has helped serve more than 10 million military members and veterans since 2013 through free online educational resources.

He is a former active duty Air Force officer with extensive experience leading hundreds of individuals and multi-functional teams in challenging international environments, including a combat tour to Afghanistan in 2011 supporting Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.

Brian is a Distinguished Graduate of Management from the United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, CO, and he holds an MBA from Oklahoma State University’s Spears School of Business, Stillwater, OK, where he was a National Honor Scholar (Top 1% of Graduate School class).

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