You may not remember learning about the genitourinary system in school, but it is one of the most prominent systems of the body, dealing with most excretory organs as well as reproductive organs.
Many veterans experience issues with the genitourinary system due to service-related injuries or other traumatic events. Numerous issues can occur in the genitourinary system as a result of stress and other emotional or mental issues.
The genitourinary system consists of the kidneys, the ureters, the bladder, and the urethra. It also consists of the reproductive organs; being the vagina, ovaries, uterus, fallopian tubes, external genitalia, and perineum in women, and the prostate gland, testicles, epididymis, and penis in men.
The main function of the genitourinary system is to expel liquid waste from the body. Many conditions can affect this system and are subsequently ratable by the VA for disability compensation.
What does the VA look for in rating a genitourinary condition?
For the purposes of disability ratings, conditions pertaining to the genitourinary system are referred to as “renal” for conditions affecting kidney function, and “urinary” for ureters, urethra, and bladder conditions.
For urinary conditions, the VA uses three different rating systems.
The first is Urinary Frequency. To receive a rating under this system you must be urinating more than normal. For this condition you may receive the following ratings:
- 10%- Urinating every 2-3 hours daily and at least twice at night
- 20%- Urinating every 1-2 hours daily and 3-4 times per night
- 40%- Urinating more than every hour daily and 5 or more times during the night.
The next system is Obstructed Voiding (“void” refers to urinating). The following ratings may be determined under this system:
- 0%- Slow or weak stream, hesitancy to start urinating or; narrowing of the urethra that requires dilatation treatments only once or twice per year.
- 10%- slow or weak stream, hesitancy to start urinating, and one or more of the following:
1) more than 150cc of urine left in the bladder after urinating; 2) less than 10 cc of urine passing through ureter every second; 3) regular urinary tract infections due to obstruction; 4) narrow urethra requires dilatation treatments every 2-3 months
- 30%- a catheter is needed constantly or intermittently
Finally, the VA uses a system called Voiding Dysfunction that refers to any urinary issues that do not fit under the previous two. The following ratings may be determined under this system:
- 20%- requiring absorbent materials that need to be changed once per day
- 40%- requiring absorbent materials that need to be changed 2-4 times per day
- 60%- the condition either constantly requires the use of a catheter to remove urine or if the condition requires the use of absorbent materials that need to be changed more than 4 times per day
Also ratable are Urinary Tract Infections if they are persistent and require regular hospitalization. This includes any abscess of the kidney, chronic epididymo-orchitis, and prostate gland conditions.
VA Ratings for genitourinary condition
In regards to renal conditions, the VA will determine the following ratings according to the VASRD:
- 0%- albumin and casts are present in the urine with a history of nephritis (inflammation of the kidneys) or; hypertension is present with average diastolic pressure less than 100 or with average systolic pressure less than 160
- 30%- albumin is present in urine with either red blood cells or hyaline and granular casts or; slight edema, or; hypertension with diastolic pressure averaging above 100 or systolic pressure averaging above 160
- 60%- definite decrease in kidney function, or: constant albuminuria with some edema, or; hypertension with an average diastolic pressure above 120
- 80%- there is a level of 4 to 8 mg/dL of Creatinine in the blood, or; albuminuria with a BUN (blood urea nitrogen) of 40 to 80 mg/dL with persistent edema, or; overall poor health symptomized by lethargy, anorexia, weight loss, weakness, or the inability to exert much energy
- 100%- requires regular dialysis, the body cannot perform physical activity due to albuminuria or persistent edema, or; a BUN of more than 80mg/dL, or; more than 9 mg/dL of creatinine in the blood, or; severely decreased kidney operation
These ratings will be used to assess the following conditions:
- Nephritis- the swelling of the nephrons inside the kidney. Nephritis will only be rated if it can be tied to an infectious disease.
It is often closely related to heart diseases as well. In the case of the nephritis linking to heart disease the condition that will receive the higher rating will be used.
- Nephrectomy- The removal of a single kidney. This condition will automatically receive a rating of 30%. A higher rating may be determined based on the working condition of the remaining kidney.
- Pyelonephritis- A form of nephritis occurring due to the urinary tract infection spreading up to the kidney. This will be rated according to whether the urinary or renal rating, whichever is higher.
- Nephrosclerosis- The kidney is damaged from high blood pressure. The worst symptoms will determine the rating, meaning that if the worst symptoms come from the kidney it will be rated as a renal condition.
- Any kidney disease requiring dialysis.
- A kidney transplant will receive 100% rating for the following year after the operation. The condition will then be reevaluated, but the minimum rating it will receive is 30%.
- Toxic nephropathy- Damage caused to the kidney by any biological or chemical product that enters the bloodstream including antibiotics, heavy metals, some medicines, and more.
- Glomerulonephritis- The small blood vessels in the kidney swell and are damaged.
- Papillary necrosis- A condition where the papillae die, leading to kidney failure or dysfunction.
- And many more…
There is a high number of renal issues, with the ones listed simply being the most common.
What should I expect in filing a claim?
Thankfully the genitourinary system is one of the areas where the VA has a fairly comprehensive understanding of the subject along with a highly developed rating system. If you have been dealing with any urinary or renal conditions you can be encouraged that there is a high chance of receiving the proper care and disability rating.
If you would like a little extra help with filing your VA, please reach out to us. We specialize in helping Veterans file winning VA Claims and would love to help set you up for success in yours.