Do you qualify for a VA rating for kidney disease?
In this Ultimate Guide, we’ll cover the VA disability for kidney disease, the steps for applying for VA disability, and a breakdown of the various stages of kidney disease.
Let’s jump in.
- What is Kidney Disease?
- 3 Types of Kidney Disease in Veterans
- How the VA Rates Kidney Disease
- Kidney Disease VA Ratings
- VA C&P Exam for Kidney Disease
- What is Chronic Kidney Disease?
- Chronic Kidney Disease VA Ratings
- How the VA Rates Chronic Kidney Disease
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) VA Rating for Kidney Disease
- NEED MORE ASSISTANCE?
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What is Kidney Disease?
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, kidney disease means your kidneys are damaged and not working correctly.
Your kidneys are essential for removing waste, toxins, and excess fluid while helping control blood pressure, keep your bones healthy, and stimulate the production of red blood cells. Kidney disease worsens over time; however, treatment can help slow its progression.
3 Types of Kidney Disease in Veterans
- Acute Kidney Failure occurs when your kidneys suddenly can’t filter waste products from your blood.
- Chronic Kidney Disease happens when there is a gradual loss of kidney function.
- Diabetic Nephropathy is a complication of type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
Causes of Kidney Disease in Veterans
Risk Factors of Kidney Disease in Veterans
- Family history of kidney disease
- Heart disease
- Prior damage to your kidneys
- Smoking or using tobacco
It’s important to note that diabetes and high blood pressure are the leading causes of kidney disease.
While there are factors you can control, kidney disease also runs in the family, and you’re more likely to inherit the disease if a family member has it.
How the VA Rates Kidney Disease
You can find the kidney disease VA rating under 38 CFR § 4.115a, Ratings of the Genitourinary System – Dysfunctions, with kidney disease following the criteria for renal dysfunction.
VA Diagnostic Codes for Kidney Disease
The VA diagnostic codes for kidney disease fall under the “Genitourinary System” section of the VA’s Schedule for Rating Disabilities (VASRD).
Kidney Disease VA Ratings
A VA disability rating for Kidney Disease can be 0%, 30%, 60%, 80%, or 100%.
- 100% – Chronic kidney disease with glomerular filtration rate (GFR) less than 15 mL/min/1.73 m 2 for at least 3 consecutive months during the past 12 months; or requiring regular routine dialysis; or eligible kidney transplant recipient
- 80% – Chronic kidney disease with GFR from 15 to 29 mL/min/1.73 m 2 for at least 3 consecutive months during the past 12 months
- 60% – Chronic kidney disease with GFR from 30 to 44 mL/min/1.73 m 2 for at least 3 consecutive months during the past 12 months
- 30% – Chronic kidney disease with GFR from 45 to 59 mL/min/1.73 m 2 for at least 3 consecutive months during the past 12 months
- 0% – GFR from 60 to 89 mL/min/1.73 m2 and either recurrent red blood cell (RBC) casts, white blood cell (WBC) casts, or granular casts for at least 3 consecutive months during the past 12 months; OR GFR from 60 to 89 mL/min/1.73 m 2 and structural kidney abnormalities (cystic, obstructive, or glomerular) for at least 3 consecutive months during the past 12 months; OR GFR from 60 to 89 mL/min/1.73 m 2 and albumin/creatinine ratio (ACR) ≥30 mg/g for at least 3 consecutive months during the past 12 months
*The GFR shows how well your kidneys are filtering your blood.
Guidelines for GFR
- A GFR of 60 or higher is considered normal
- A GFR below 60 could mean kidney disease
- A GFR of 15 or below could mean kidney failure
VA Disability Rating for Stage 2 Kidney Disease
Stage 2 kidney disease isn’t easily detected because you may not have any symptoms notifying you of your condition.
With stage 2 kidney disease, your GFR is between 60 and 89, likely lending itself to a rating of 0%. However, since every case differs, you may still be eligible for VA disability for kidney disease, depending on the severity of your condition.
VA Disability Rating for Stage 3 Kidney Disease
If you have stage 3 kidney disease, you’ll likely receive either a 30% or 60% VA disability rating, indicating moderate kidney damage.
Common symptoms of stage 3 kidney disease
- Changes in urination
- High blood pressure (Hypertension)
VA Disability Rating for Stage 4 Kidney Disease
If you have stage 4 kidney disease, you’ll likely receive an 80% VA disability rating.
Symptoms are typically more prominent with stage 4 kidney disease, but you can still manage them with a healthy diet, medication, and keeping your blood pressure under control.
VA Disability Rating for Stage 5 Kidney Disease
If you have end-stage renal failure, which is considered stage 5 kidney disease, you’ll likely receive a 100% VA rating for kidney disease. Most veterans with stage 4 kidney disease have a GFR below 15, indicating kidney failure.
VA C&P Exam for Kidney Disease
You’ll likely need to attend a Compensation & Pension (C&P) exam to receive a VA disability rating for kidney disease. During a C&P exam, the examiner will help determine the severity of your condition and whether it’s service-connected. If the VA deems it necessary, they will contact you after receiving your application for disability benefits.
Top 10 C&P Exam Quick Prep Tips Video
Kidney Conditions Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQ)
You can also have a licensed medical professional complete a kidney conditions DBQ to help assist you in the disability evaluation process. A DBQ isn’t required, but it can help provide additional evidence or information to support your claim.
For example, you can include treatment records and a history of the onset of your condition, painting a vivid picture of how it impacts your daily life.
What is Chronic Kidney Disease?
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) occurs when the kidneys are damaged and can’t filter blood as they should. According to the National Kidney Foundation, an estimated 37 million in the United States may have chronic kidney disease, but only 90% know of their condition.
Symptoms of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)
- Loss of appetite
- Difficulty sleeping
- Persistent itching
- Loss of appetite
- Chest pain
- High blood pressure
- Changes in urination
Unfortunately, chronic kidney disease can lead to end-stage kidney failure, so treating the condition at its first signs is essential. Generally, the only way to assist someone with end-stage kidney failure is through dialysis or a kidney transplant.
Chronic Kidney Disease VA Ratings
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is rated from 0% to 100%, depending on the severity of your condition.
To receive a chronic kidney disease VA rating, you must prove a link between your condition and time in the service.
VA Disability Rating for Chronic Kidney Disease Stage 2
The chronic kidney disease stage 2 VA disability rating is generally 0% since there isn’t much damage at this stage.
Thankfully, your kidneys can still operate well in stage 2, and you probably only found out you have CKD because of another condition like diabetes or high blood pressure.
VA Disability Rating for Chronic Kidney Disease Stage 3
If you have stage 3 kidney disease, you likely have a GFR between 30 and 59, indicating damage to the efficiency of your kidneys.
The VA rating for kidney disease once it reaches stage 3 varies between 30% and 60%, depending on your GFR.
Treatment Options for Chronic Kidney Disease Stage 3
- Blood pressure medicines
- Diabetes medicines
- Diuretics to aid with swelling
- Calcium and vitamin D supplements
- Iron supplements
How the VA Rates Chronic Kidney Disease
Your VA rating for chronic kidney disease depends on the severity of your condition, with ratings ranging from 0% to 100%.
If your kidney disease results in no noticeable symptoms, you’ll receive a 0% VA rating. However, you may be eligible for at least a 30% VA rating if you have a GFR between 45 to 59, which is stage 3A.
How to Qualify for a VA Rating for Kidney Disease
To qualify for VA disability for kidney disease, you must provide evidence of the following:
- A current diagnosis
- An in-service event, injury, or illness
- A medical nexus (i.e., link) between the current diagnosis and the in-service event, injury, or illness
Steps to Submit a Disability Claim for Kidney Disease
- Gather your evidence and supporting documents (i.e., VA medical records, hospital records, private medical records, hospital reports, and supporting statements)
- Submit your VA Form 21-526EZ claim online, in person at your local regional VA office, or by mail to:
Department of Veterans Affairs
Claims Intake Center
PO Box 4444
Janesville, WI 53547-4444
PRO TIP: If you plan on applying for VA disability for kidney disease using a paper form, you should submit an intent to file form, which gives you time to gather the necessary evidence and documentation.
Secondary Service Connection for Kidney Disease
Diabetes is the most common secondary condition to kidney disease, with type 2 diabetes being the leading cause of kidney disease.
If your service-connected diabetes causes kidney disease, you may be eligible for a secondary service connection.
A secondary service-connected disease arises because of a previously service-connected disability.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) VA Rating for Kidney Disease
What are the VA Benefits for Kidney Disease?
VA benefits for kidney disease include:
- Beneficiary travel, including mileage reimbursement or special mode transportation
- Dialysis care, regardless of whether your condition has a service-connected or non-service-connected status
- Disability benefits
- Geriatrics and extended care
- Home improvements and alterations
- Home dialysis
- Transplant, if eligible
Is Kidney Disease a VA Presumptive Condition?
No, kidney disease isn’t considered a presumptive condition. However, you can still receive VA disability for kidney disease if you can provide a link between your condition and your military service.
How is Kidney Disease Diagnosed?
Generally, kidney disease is diagnosed through a blood test that measures how much waste product, or creatinine, there is in your blood. The blood test determines your GFR, indicating how well your kidneys function. Other tests include a urine test, ultrasound, MRI scan, or CT scan.
Can I Appeal a VA Rating Decision for Kidney Disease?
Yes, you can file an appeal if your VA claim is denied. If the VA decision was dated on or after February 19, 2019, you have three options to continue your case:
NEED MORE ASSISTANCE?
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If you’ve filed your VA disability claim and have been denied or have received a low rating—or you’re unsure how to get started—reach out to us! Take advantage of a FREE VA Claim Discovery Call. Learn what you’ve been missing—so you can FINALLY get the disability rating and compensation YOU DESERVE!