In this guide, we’ll explore how to get a VA Rating for High Blood Pressure even if you’ve already filed a VA claim or been denied benefits.
VA Disability for High Blood Pressure ranges from 10% to 60%, with breaks at 20% and 40%, depending on the severity of your symptoms.
In general, the more severe your symptoms, the higher the VA rating you’ll receive.
High Blood Pressure is often referred to as a “silent killer” because you typically don’t know that you have it, and yet, it’s a significant risk factor for heart attack and stroke.
According to VA medical research, High Blood Pressure is one of the most common chronic conditions in veterans, which affects more than 37% of the veteran population.
There are a variety of secondary conditions to Hypertension, to include High Blood Pressure secondary to Sleep Apnea, High Blood Pressure secondary to Kidney Disease, High Blood Pressure secondary to Thyroid, and High Blood Pressure secondary to the side effects of certain medications (more on that below).
Alright, let’s jump into this Insider’s Guide for getting service connected disability for High Blood Pressure.
- What is High Blood Pressure in Veterans?
- VA Rating for High Blood Pressure: Basic Eligibility Criteria
- Is High Blood Pressure a VA Disability?
- How Do I Get VA Disability for High Blood Pressure?
- How Do I Increase My VA Disability Rating for High Blood Pressure?
- What is the Reasonable Doubt Rule for High Blood Pressure?
- How Does the VA Rate High Blood Pressure?
- What is the High Blood Pressure VA Rating Scale?
- Is High Blood Pressure a VA Presumptive Condition?
- List of VA Secondary Conditions to Hypertension
- What Should I Expect at a VA C&P Exam for Hypertension?
- About the Author
What is High Blood Pressure in Veterans?
“Hypertension” and “High Blood Pressure” are the same thing.
According to the Mayo Clinic, High Blood Pressure occurs when the long-term force of high blood pressure against your artery walls leads to a variety of health problems, such as heart disease or stroke.
Generally, your blood pressure is determined in two ways: (#1) The amount of blood your heart pumps and (#2) The amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries.
The more blood your heart pumps and the narrower your arteries, the higher your blood pressure.
A blood pressure reading is given in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) and it has two numbers.
These two numbers will affect your final VA disability rating for High Blood Pressure:
- Top Number (Systolic Pressure) – The first, or upper, number measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats.
- Bottom Number (Diastolic Pressure) – The second, or lower, number measures the pressure in your arteries between beats.
Common Signs and Symptoms of High Blood Pressure:
High Blood Pressure or Hypertension symptoms vary from veteran to veteran.
Please, if you have any of these symptoms, go see a doctor right away!
You could be having a hypertensive crisis that could lead to a heart attack or stroke.
You may also have another serious health condition that requires medical attention.
If your blood pressure is high, there are symptoms you need to watch out for, including:
- Severe headaches
- Fatigue or confusion
- Vision problems
- Chest pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Irregular heartbeat
- Blood in the urine
- Pounding in your chest, neck, or ears
- Trouble sleeping
- Facial flushing
- Blood spots in eyes
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VA Rating for High Blood Pressure: Basic Eligibility Criteria
To be eligible for High Blood Pressure VA Rating, a veteran must meet three (3) criteria by law:
- #1. Medical diagnosis of High Blood Pressure, in a medical record (Service Treatment Records, VA medical records, or private medical records)
- #2. Your High Blood Pressure was caused or made worse by your active-duty military service OR by another service connected disability for secondary service connection (“Nexus” for service connection)
- #3. Persistent and recurring symptoms of High Blood Pressure (“Severity of Symptoms”) to include how the disability negatively impacts your work, life, and social functioning
If you think you have High Blood Pressure, but don’t have a medical diagnosis, pick-up the phone and call the VA health facility nearest you to make an appointment right away!
If you’re trying to increase your VA rating for High Blood Pressure, you need to prove to the VA that your symptoms are now worse and warrant the higher rating criteria by law.
The #1 best way to increase your VA rating for High Blood Pressure is to have objective medical evidence to show your symptoms have worsened over time.
Is High Blood Pressure a VA Disability?
Yes, High Blood Pressure is a VA disability and can be rated at 10%, 20%, 40%, or 60% depending upon the frequency, severity, and duration of your symptoms as well as “how” those symptoms affect your “Occupational and Social Impairment” – meaning your work, life, and social functioning.
High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) is rated under CFR 38, Part 4, VA Schedule of Ratings, Diseases of the Arteries and Veins, Diagnostic Code 7101.
How Do I Get VA Disability for High Blood Pressure?
There are 3 primary ways a veteran can get a VA disability rating for High Blood Pressure:
- #1: Direct Service Connection for High Blood Pressure with a VA rating of 10%, 20%, 40%, or 60%. This means an in-service injury, disease, or event caused your High Blood Pressure. Therefore, it’s directly related to your military service.
- #2: Secondary Service Connection for High Blood Pressure with a VA rating of 10%, 20%, 40%, or 60%. This means your High Blood Pressure was caused or made worse by another service-connected disability. Thus, it’s service connected as a secondary condition. For example, a veteran could be rated for High Blood Pressure secondary to Sleep Apnea.
- #3: High Blood Pressure as a Symptom of another ratable cardiac disability such as Coronary Artery Disease. VA Ratings for Heart Disease range from 10% to 100% with breaks at 30% and 60%. For example, a veteran could be service connected for Arteriosclerotic Heart Disease with High Blood Pressure as a symptom. The High Blood Pressure might not be rated on its own, but rather, as a contributing symptom to heart disease. This allows a veteran to receive up to a 100 percent VA rating for heart disease with high blood pressure.
How Do I Increase My VA Disability Rating for High Blood Pressure?
When VA Rating Officials are determining the appropriate disability evaluation to assign for High Blood Pressure, the primary consideration is a veteran’s current SYMPTOMS; however, VA Raters must also make findings as to “HOW” those symptoms contribute to functional impairment or loss.
- Does the veteran’s High Blood Pressure limit or affect his/her work, life, and/or social functioning?
- Does the veteran’s High Blood Pressure cause any functional impairment or loss?
Remember the VA disability compensation system provides veterans with tax-free monetary relief for the average impairment of earnings capacity.
This makes good sense, because if your disability doesn’t affect you, the VA won’t compensate you for that condition.
On the other hand, if your disability is severe and it affects you often, the VA will compensate you for that condition—typically at the higher disability percentage.
The VA Rater will select the disability percentage evaluation based on a “preponderance of the symptoms.”
For example, if you have 4 symptoms of the 10% rating level, 5 symptoms of the 30% level, and 2 symptoms of the 50% level, the “preponderance” of your symptoms is at the 30% rating criteria.
Generally, the more severe your disability, the higher the VA rating you’ll receive.
Keep this in-mind when talking to your doctor, sourcing a Buddy Letter, writing a Statement in Support of a Claim, or attending a C&P Exam.
The #1 best way to increase your VA rating for High Blood Pressure is to have objective medical evidence to show your symptoms have worsened over time.
Typically, this means medical evidence of high blood pressure readings above normal over an extended period.
What is the Reasonable Doubt Rule for High Blood Pressure?
The Reasonable Doubt Rule, also known as the “Benefit of the Doubt Doctrine,” means that the evidence provided by the claimant/beneficiary (or obtained on his/her behalf) must only persuade the decision maker that each factual matter is “at least as likely as not.”
This means there’s a 50/50 chance. When, after careful consideration of all evidence, a reasonable doubt arises regarding service origin, the degree of disability, or any other point, such doubt will be resolved in favor of the claimant.
The courts further likened the reasonable doubt rule as akin to the principle in baseball that the “tie goes to the runner.”
When in doubt, the benefit is ALWAYS given to the veteran.
Independent providers and C&P examiners must consider and give weight to the veterans self-reported symptoms when completing their DBQ for Hypertension.
How Does the VA Rate High Blood Pressure?
The VA rates High Blood Pressure under CFR Title 38, Part 4, VA Schedule of Ratings, Diseases of the Arteries and Veins, Diagnostic Code 7101 “Hypertension” at 10%, 20%, 40%, or 60% depending upon the Frequency, Severity, and Duration of your symptoms.
- 60%: A 60 percent VA rating for High Blood Pressure is granted if your diastolic pressure measures 130 or higher.
- 40%: A 40 percent rating is warranted if your diastolic pressure is 120 to 129.
- 20%: A 20 percent rating for High Blood Pressure is given if your diastolic pressure is 110 to 119, or your systolic pressure is 200 or higher.
- 10%: A 10 percent VA rating is assigned for High Blood Pressure if your diastolic pressure is 100 to 109, or your systolic pressure is 160 to 199.
What is the High Blood Pressure VA Rating Scale?
VA disability for High Blood Pressure has ratings of 10 percent, 20 percent, 40 percent, or 60 percent depending on the frequency, severity, and duration of your symptoms.
The maximum scheduler rating for High Blood Pressure is 60 percent, which means your diastolic pressure is predominantly 130 or higher.
|DC 7101 Hypertension, VA Ratings for High Blood Pressure||VA Rating|
|Diastolic pressure predominantly 130 or more||60%|
|Diastolic pressure predominantly 120 or more||40%|
|Diastolic pressure predominantly 110 or more, or systolic pressure predominantly 200 or more||20%|
|Diastolic pressure predominantly 100 or more, or systolic pressure predominantly 160 or more, or; minimum evaluation for an individual with a history of diastolic pressure predominantly 100 or more who requires continuous medication for control||10%|
- Note 1: Hypertension or isolated systolic hypertension must be confirmed by readings taken two or more times on at least three different days. For purposes of this section, the term hypertension means that the diastolic blood pressure is predominantly 90mm. or greater, and isolated systolic hypertension means that the systolic blood pressure is predominantly 160mm. or greater with a diastolic blood pressure of less than 90mm.
- Note 2: Evaluate hypertension due to aortic insufficiency or hyperthyroidism, which is usually the isolated systolic type, as part of the condition causing it rather than by a separate evaluation.
- Note 3: Evaluate hypertension separately from hypertensive heart disease and other types of heart disease.
Is High Blood Pressure a VA Presumptive Condition?
No, High Blood Pressure is not currently on the VA presumptive list.
However, Ischemic Heart Disease is on the Agent Orange presumptive list (also called Coronary Heart Disease), and is rated under Diagnostic Code (DC) 7005.
Again, the VA presumptive list does NOT include high blood pressure, peripheral vascular disease, heart attack, or stroke.
List of VA Secondary Conditions to Hypertension
It’s possible for your Hypertension to be caused or made worse by another service connected disability for secondary service connection, and vice versa.
Here’s a list of common secondary conditions to Hypertension:
- ED secondary to Hypertension
- Hypertension secondary to Sleep Apnea
- Hypertension secondary to PTSD
- Hypertension secondary to Weight Gain Obesity as Interim Link
- Hypertension secondary to Kidney Disease
- Hypertension secondary to Diabetes
- Hypertension secondary to Hyperthyroidism
- Hypertension secondary to Lupus
- Hypertension secondary to Scleroderma
What Should I Expect at a VA C&P Exam for Hypertension?
A C&P exam for Hypertension involves a series of verbal questions, to include a physical examination with a stethoscope (listening to your heart and breathing), and diagnostic testing using a sphygmomanometer, which consists of a stethoscope, arm cuff, dial, pump, and valve.
The following are a list of common questions asked at a C&P exam for High Blood Pressure (Hypertension), based on the DBQ for Hypertension.
#1. Does the veteran have a diagnosis of Hypertension or Isolated Systolic Hypertension based on the following criteria?
- For VA rating purposes, the term “hypertension” or High Blood Pressure, means that the diastolic blood pressure is predominantly 90mm or greater, and isolated systolic hypertension means that the systolic blood pressure is predominantly 160mm or greater with a diastolic blood pressure of less than 90mm.
- The INITIAL diagnosis of hypertension or isolated systolic hypertension must be confirmed by readings taken 2 or more times on at least 3 different days. Blood pressure results may be obtained from existing medical records or through scheduled visits for blood pressure measurements.
- Also, complete any appropriate questionnaires for hypertension-related complications, if any, such as Kidney, if renal insufficiency is attributable to hypertension.
If the veteran does have a diagnosis of High Blood Pressure that conforms to VA rating standards, indicate the type, ICD Code, and date of diagnosis.
#2. Describe the history, including onset and course, of the veteran’s High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) condition?
Give a brief summary.
#3. Does the veteran’s treatment plan include taking continuous medication for Hypertension or Isolated Systolic Hypertension?
If yes, list the medications.
#4. Was the veteran’s initial diagnosis of Hypertension or Isolated Systolic Hypertension confirmed by blood pressure readings taken 2 or more times on at least 3 different days?
If yes, provide the blood pressure readings used to establish initial diagnosis.
#5. Does the veteran have a history of a diastolic blood pressure elevation of predominantly 100 or more?
If yes, describe the frequency and severity of diastolic blood pressure elevation.
#6. What are the current dates of this evaluation and corresponding blood pressure readings?
The veteran should be seated comfortably with back and feet supported. There is no need to take lying or standing blood pressures. There is no specified time interval between readings, and they may be completed sequentially.
#7. Does the veteran have any other pertinent physical findings, complications, conditions, signs, or symptoms related to the conditions listed in the diagnosis section above?
If yes, describe.
#8. Does the veteran’s Hypertension or Isolated Systolic Hypertension impact his/her ability to work?
If yes, describe the impact of the veteran’s hypertension or isolated systolic hypertension, providing one or more examples.
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About the Author
Founder & CEO
Brian Reese is a VA benefits expert, author of the #1 Amazon Bestseller You Deserve It: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Veteran Benefits You’ve Earned, and founder of VA Claims Insider – “The Most Trusted Name in Education-Based Resources for Veterans.”
His frustration with the 8-step VA disability claims process led him to create “VA Claims Insider,” which provides U.S. military veterans with tips, strategies, and lessons learned for successfully submitting or re-submitting a winning VA disability compensation claim.
Brian is also the CEO of Military Disability Made Easy, which is the world’s largest free searchable database for all things related to DoD disability and VA disability claims and has served more than 4,600,000 military members and veterans since its founding in 2013.
His eBook, the “9 Secrets Strategies for Winning Your VA Disability Claim” has been downloaded more than 300,000 times in the past three years and is the #1 rated free VA disability claims guide for veterans.
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).