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What is the VA Rating for Crohn's Disease?
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March 30, 2024

What is the VA Rating for Crohn’s Disease?

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Effective May 19, 2024, under the new Diagnostic Code (DC) 7326, veterans can get a VA rating for Crohn’s disease from 10% to 100% with breaks at 30% and 60%.

Your final Crohn’s 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.

Learn more about the VA digestive system rating changes here.  

Summary of Key Points

  • The VA requires a medical diagnosis of Crohn’s disease under DC 7326 to be confirmed by endoscopy or radiologic studies.
  • Ulcerative colitis is also rated under DC 7326 for Crohn’s disease or an undifferentiated form of inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Chronic enteritis is rated under either DC 7319 for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or DC 7326, depending on the predominant disability.
  • If you already have a VA rating for Crohn’s disease, there will be no change to your current VA rating—you are “grandfathered” in under the old rating criteria.

What is Crohn’s Disease?

Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory condition that primarily affects the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

It is classified as one of the two main forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), the other being ulcerative colitis.

Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the GI tract, from the mouth to the anus, but it most commonly affects the end of the small intestine (ileum) and the beginning of the colon.

The exact cause of Crohn’s disease is not fully understood, but it is believed to involve a combination of genetic predisposition, environmental factors, and an abnormal immune response.

Symptoms of Crohn’s disease can vary widely among veterans but often include abdominal pain, diarrhea, rectal bleeding, weight loss, fatigue, and fever.

Complications may include strictures (narrowing of the intestine), fistulas (abnormal connections between different parts of the intestine or between the intestine and other organs), abscesses, and malnutrition.

Treatment for Crohn’s disease typically involves a combination of medications to reduce inflammation and control symptoms, such as anti-inflammatory drugs, immune system suppressors, antibiotics, and biologic therapies.

In some severe cases, surgery may be necessary to remove damaged portions of the intestine or treat complications.

Crohn’s disease is a lifelong condition, and while there is currently no cure, management strategies can help control symptoms and improve quality of life for many veterans.

Common Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease in Veterans

Symptoms of Crohn’s disease in veterans include:

  • Abdominal pain and cramping: Veterans with Crohn’s disease often experience abdominal discomfort, which can range from mild to severe.
  • Diarrhea: Frequent and sometimes urgent bowel movements are a common symptom of Crohn’s disease.
  • Rectal bleeding: Blood in the stool may occur due to inflammation and ulceration in the intestines.
  • Weight loss: Malabsorption of nutrients and decreased appetite can lead to unintentional weight loss.
  • Fatigue: Chronic inflammation and the body’s response to the disease can cause fatigue and a general feeling of tiredness.
  • Fever: Some veterans with Crohn’s disease may experience fever, especially during flare-ups of the condition.
  • Joint pain: Inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease can also affect the joints, leading to pain and swelling.
  • Reduced appetite: Loss of appetite is common in Crohn’s disease, particularly during flare-ups.
  • Skin problems: Some veterans may develop skin conditions such as erythema nodosum or pyoderma gangrenosum, which are associated with Crohn’s disease.
  • Eye inflammation: Inflammation of the eyes, known as uveitis, can occur in some veterans with Crohn’s disease.

VA Rating for Crohn’s Disease

The VA rates Crohn’s disease or an undifferentiated form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) under the new DC 7326 as follows:

100% VA Disability Rating for Crohn’s Disease:

  • Severe inflammatory bowel disease that is unresponsive to treatment; and requires hospitalization at least once per year; and results in either an inability to work or is characterized by recurrent abdominal pain associated with at least two of the following: (1) six or more episodes per day of diarrhea, (2) six or more episodes per day of rectal bleeding, (3) recurrent episodes of rectal incontinence, or (4) recurrent abdominal distension.

Detailed explanation:

The 100 percent rating is given in only the most severe cases of Crohn’s Disease, where:

  • The disease is unresponsive to any form of treatment.
  • It necessitates hospitalization at least once every year.
  • It severely impacts the veteran’s ability to work.

Symptoms include severe recurrent abdominal pain and at least two of the following:

  • Six or more episodes of diarrhea daily.
  • Six or more episodes of rectal bleeding daily.
  • Recurrent episodes of rectal incontinence (loss of bowel control).
  • Recurrent abdominal distension (bloating).

60% VA Disability Rating for Crohn’s Disease:

  • Moderate inflammatory bowel disease that is managed on an outpatient basis with immunosuppressants or other biologic agents; and is characterized by recurrent abdominal pain, four to five daily episodes of diarrhea; and intermittent signs of toxicity such as fever, tachycardia, or anemia.

Detailed explanation:

The 60 percent rating is for moderate cases of Crohn’s disease, where:

  • The disease is managed on an outpatient basis, mainly with immunosuppressants or biologic agents.
  • Symptoms include recurrent abdominal pain and four to five episodes of diarrhea daily.
  • There are intermittent signs of toxicity, such as fever, a rapid heart rate (tachycardia), or anemia (low red blood cell count).

30% VA Disability Rating for Crohn’s Disease:

  • Mild to moderate inflammatory bowel disease that is managed with oral and topical agents (other than immunosuppressants or other biologic agents); and is characterized by recurrent abdominal pain with three or less daily episodes of diarrhea and minimal signs of toxicity such as fever, tachycardia, or anemia.

Detailed explanation:

The 30 percent rating applies to mild to moderate cases of Crohn’s disease, characterized by the following:

  • Management with oral and topical agents other than immunosuppressants or biologic agents.
  • Recurrent abdominal pain and three or fewer daily episodes of diarrhea.
  • Minimal signs of toxicity, which might include fever, tachycardia, or anemia.

10% VA Disability Rating for Crohn’s Disease

  • Minimal to mild symptomatic inflammatory bowel disease that is managed with oral or topical agents (other than immunosuppressants or other biologic agents); and is characterized by recurrent abdominal pain with three or less daily episodes of diarrhea and no signs of systemic toxicity.

Detailed explanation:

10% is the new minimum compensable rating for Crohn’s disease and is reserved for the least severe cases:

  • Minimal to mild disease symptoms.
  • Management with oral or topical agents (excluding immunosuppressants or biologic agents).
  • Recurrent abdominal pain and three or fewer daily episodes of diarrhea.
  • No signs of systemic toxicity.

Note (1): Following colectomy/colostomy with persistent or recurrent symptoms, rate either under DC 7326 or DC 7329 (Intestine, large, resection of), whichever provides the highest rating.

Note (2): VA requires diagnoses under DC 7326 to be confirmed by endoscopy or radiologic studies.

Note (3): Inflammation may involve small bowel (ileitis), large bowel (colitis), or inflammation of any component of the gastrointestinal tract from the mouth to the anus.

What If I Already Have VA Disability for Crohn’s Disease?

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

A reduction in your rating will only occur if there is improvement in a disability sufficient to warrant a reduction under the old 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 disability claim submitted ASAP!

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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