VA Compensation for Diabetes

Veterans are entitled to disability benefits for any injury or disability that was a result of service. However, many Veterans don’t understand what disabilities or injuries are the result of service and what disabilities can be attributed to aging. There are many injuries and negative health conditions that occur as time goes on that can still be attributed to one’s military service. It seems like a fairly difficult thing to link, but with the right knowledge, people, and reasoning, it is possible for Veterans to get the VA disability compensation that they rightly deserve. 

Most Veterans don’t realize they are entitled to VA compensation for diabetes if they can prove it is related to service. This article explains why diabetes can be connected to one’s service, shows how some Veterans can get disability compensation for their medical condition. 

Diabetes and Service Connection

Diabetes mellitus is a very common condition that many Veterans suffer from which affects blood sugar levels, but it’s not always apparent that they could be entitled to VA benefits for their complications of diabetes. This is because diagnosis of diabetes can be the result of numerous conditions. As a result, it could be secondarily service connected to another service-connected condition when viewed in your medical records.

Secondary Service Conditions are disabilities that are discovered after a period of time and often come after the first disability diagnosis and percentage allocation. Often, that means that additional checks need to be made to ensure that the individual’s disease or condition is still service connected. That means that the Veteran’s diabetes has to link up to something that happened while the Veteran was still in service, and it wouldn’t have happened unless they were in the military, which they were. 

The original percentages and disability compensation levels that are given to Veterans can be appealed as time goes on. Bodys are constantly aged and getting worn down, meaning they continually are growing more susceptible to injuries that were received a long time ago. A disability that is manageable with a 25-year-old body can often become much more harmful and unmanageable to a 50-year-old or older body. It is important to keep the VA updated on the status of how much disabilities affect the life of a Veteran because that will directly correlate with the amount of compensation that a Veteran can receive. 

Diabetes is a condition in which the body does not properly produce or use insulin. Insulin is necessary to convert sugar into energy. Some people can manage their diabetes through a restricted diet, while others require daily insulin injections. The more severe the symptoms, the higher the VA evaluation and disability compensation. 

Diabetes has two main common types. There is Type 1 diabetes, which is also often known as juvenile-onset diabetes because it usually develops as a child. Because this is a disease that doesn’t usually develop due to experience in the military, the odds are incredibly rare that there is any way that it could be service-connected in a way that will allow there to be any disability compensation. 

Type 2 diabetes is much more likely to appear because of military experiences. It’s often known as adult-onset diabetes, and roughly 90% of people with diabetes have Type 2. It raises the risk for excessively small blood vessels and the risk of heart disease and stroke. It affects a lot of areas of life and can be very frustrating and debilitating to deal with. It often requires the use of medication, which can be very expensive and hard to pay for on one’s own. 

People who struggle with obesity are much more likely to be at risk of diabetes and the health risks that go along with it. Treatment for Type II diabetes involves many very intentional lifestyle decisions and choices, including having to spend more effort on maintaining a healthy weight, eating healthy foods, and exercising on a regular basis. This is because it maintains the natural flow and order of the body in a beneficial way, thus making it easier for the body to produce insulin, which is essential for survival as a human, and especially a diabetic. 

How the VA Rates Diabetes

The VA currently rates diabetes as 10, 20, 40, 60, or 100 percent disabling. These different percentages directly relate to the level of disability that a person has because of their struggles with diabetes.

  • At 10 percent, the Veteran is able to manage their diabetes through a restricted diet.
  • At 20 percent, the Veteran requires an insulin injection one or more times daily in addition to a restricted diet or taking an oral hypoglycemic agent.
  • At 40 percent, the Veteran needs one or more daily shots of insulin, a restricted diet, as well as regulated activity.
  • At 60 percent, in addition to the requirements listed above, the Veteran must have experienced a hypoglycemic reaction or episodes of ketoacidosis that resulted in hospitalization once or twice a year.
  • At 100 percent, the Veteran would need to take insulin more than once a day, be on a restricted diet, regulate their activity, be hospitalized three or more times per year, and experience progressive weight loss or strength reduction.

These different percentages directly correlate with the amount of disability compensation that Veterans receive. These percentages are illustrating how much of a detriment their condition is on their life, and that’s what will show how much harder it is for them to work and live a normal life. To counteract these negative effects on a Veteran’s life, the VA has this system in place to ensure that any potential lost income from being unable to work is taken care of. This is done for the sake of the Veteran but also for the sake of any potential dependents they may have. 

Connecting Military Service to Diabetes

While many are familiar with the link between Agent Orange exposure and the development of diabetes, it is less widely known that conditions such as PTSD or musculoskeletal conditions can result in diabetes. Studies have found that conditions such as PTSD, hypertension, and sleep apnea can be risk factors for the development of diabetes. These all interconnect with each other and can cause a lot of potential risks that can lead to the development of diabetes. It can often seem like a far reach to try and link up the various other disabilities, but with the help of professionals, you can often see where the links are. 

If a Veteran has a pre-existing list of disabilities and then later develops diabetes, they are able to later file a VA disability claim for a secondary service connection. That means that they can register a claim that one already existing problem has led to another, and it is causing further levels of disability. The secondary disability has to be connected to a previous event, injury, or medical condition. But when the connection can be illustrated by medical professionals and history, it is very possible to connect the disability in a way that will allow the Veteran to make additional disability compensation. 

To do this, a Veteran will need to provide new and relevant evidence that this added condition is connected to a preexisting condition that was caused by their service time in the military. A very beneficial way to help that is to get a Nexus letter. That is a letter from a healthcare professional that states that they, with their medically professional opinion, believe that the new medical condition is “at least as likely as not” to have originated from the original disability. This helps the Department of Veterans Affairs see that they need to provide more income for the Veteran because their level of need has gone up considerably. 

Additionally, musculoskeletal conditions can result in a reduction in physical activity. This reduction can lead to a sedentary lifestyle which results in obesity, and obesity is one of the main risk factors in the development of diabetes. It is less intuitive to connect diabetes with the above-listed conditions, but Veterans who suffer from one could very easily suffer from the other. If a Veteran is service connected for PTSD, hypertension, or sleep apnea, they could become service connected for diabetes secondary to those conditions. 

VA Disability Attorneys

Veterans who currently have a diabetes diagnosis due to service are entitled to disability compensation for diabetes. If you are a Veteran and you were denied VA disability benefits for diabetes, you have the right to appeal. To have a successful appeal, it is often very important and helpful to have people that know the system well and know how to fight for Veterans in ways that create success through a law firm. At Berry Law, we are dedicated to helping fellow Veterans who were injured in active duty in their fight for disability benefits through aiding their disability rating. Contact Berry Law today for a free case evaluation. 

 

Sources: 

https://medlineplus.gov/diabetes.html#:~:text=Diabetes%20is%20a%20disease%20in,body%20does%20not%20make%20insulin.

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20355967#:~:text=Post%2Dtraumatic%20stress%20disorder%20(PTSD)%20is%20a%20mental%20health,uncontrollable%20thoughts%20about%20the%20event.

https://www.va.gov/disability/eligibility/hazardous-materials-exposure/agent-orange/

https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/guide/types-of-diabetes-mellitus