VA Disability for Asthma: Everything You Need to Know

Does the VA Offer Benefits to Veterans Suffering From Asthma? 

If you’re a former member of the military suffering from asthma, the first thing to know is that the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) may recognize you as a Veteran with a service-related disability. Disabled Veterans can be offered tax-free benefits by the VA based on a disability score between 0 and 100. This specific rating corresponds to the amount of monthly compensation they will receive. If you are a Veteran with service-related asthma that significantly affects your quality of life, you may qualify for a high disability rating and more benefits.

So, how does the VA determine whether a Veteran with asthma qualifies for benefits? It’s simple – the VA wants to see that a Veteran’s asthma was caused or worsened by an event or injury that happened during their time in the military. Once this connection is established between the Veteran’s asthma and their military service, the VA typically has sufficient grounds to provide a Veteran with monthly support.

Disability Ratings for Veterans With Asthma Can Vary.

Since asthma is a condition that varies in severity from person to person, the VA addresses it on a case-by-case basis. One Veteran with asthma may receive a higher rating than another based on the severity of their condition and how much it inhibits them in work and everyday life.

To determine the severity of a Veteran’s asthma, the VA will use two different measurements: forced expiratory capacity and forced expiratory volume. Forced expiratory capacity (Sometimes abbreviated as FEV-1) is a measurement of an asthmatic person’s exhale – how much air they can breathe out in one second while pushing themselves to exhale as forcefully as possible. Forced expiratory volume (FVC) is the amount of air that an asthmatic person can inhale or exhale in a fixed period.

Based on these measurements, the VA can judge how severe a Veteran’s asthma is. If a Veteran has asthma that is so severe that it is crippling on a daily basis, they may be eligible to receive a 100% disability rating from the VA.

When a Veteran receives a 100% disability rating, they are getting the maximum amount of monthly disability benefits from the VA (excluding special monthly compensation). The 100% disability rating is reserved for Veterans with crippling disabilities that significantly interfere with work and life. A disabled Veteran can also receive additional monthly compensation based for each dependent in their household – spouses, dependent parents, and children all add to a monthly disability payment.

Reasons the VA Might Deny a Claim for Asthma

Unfortunately, the VA’s assessment of a Veteran who has asthma is not always accurate. In some cases, the VA will give an asthmatic Veteran a lower disability rating than their condition warrants based on an inaccurate evaluation. Sometimes, the VA denies benefits to asthmatic Veterans entirely.

If the VA denies the application of a Veteran with asthma, it’s typically for one of a few reasons – lack of medical evidence, failure to undergo a required exam, or lack of established connection between asthma and military service. The VA’s reasoning in denying a Veteran’s application to receive benefits usually goes something like the following:

  • The VA may deny a Veteran’s application because they conclude that the medical evidence in the Veteran’s claim is not strong enough to qualify the Veteran for benefits. Sometimes, a Veteran is denied benefits because their disability, although diagnosable, does not appear to affect them enough to make them eligible for monthly disability support.
  • The VA sometimes denies a Veteran’s claim if the Veteran has failed to undergo a required examination called a compensation and pension (C&P) exam. The C&P exam is the VA’s way of assessing a Veteran’s condition and plays a vital role in the application process for receiving disability benefits. Without a C&P exam, a claim will be denied by default.
  • If the VA does not conclude that there is a verifiable connection between a Veteran’s disability and an injury or event from their military service, they will typically deny a Veteran’s claim. In some cases, the VA will not look for a direct link between a Veteran’s disability and their military service, but when it comes to asthma, the connection is a necessary aspect of getting a claim approved.

Is the VA Always Right?

As you can imagine, the VA’s decision on a Veteran’s claim is not always 100% accurate. In fact, Berry Law has helped thousands of Veterans who received inaccurate ratings from the VA appeal their decision, increasing their rating to get the benefits they deserve. Sometimes, the VA may deny a claim that should be approved or give a Veteran a disability rating that is lower than their condition warrants. If you find yourself in one of these positions, it does not mean that you are stuck with the VA’s decision or that they have ruled accurately.

If you think that the VA’s decision regarding your disability claim is unfair or inaccurate, you can request a decision review from the VA. A decision review is more than just the VA looking over your claim again – it can involve presenting statements, testimonials, additional evidence, and more to support your claim. Decision reviews sometimes also involve passing your claim up to higher levels of VA jurisdiction. 

In a VA decision review, there are multiple steps you can take to potentially change the VA’s ruling on your claim. One route that you can take that can greatly impact your ruling is getting an independent medical examination (IME). An IME looks similar to the C&P exam that you’d get from the VA, but this type of examination is done by a private doctor instead of one affiliated with the VA. 

An independent medical exam gets you a professional second opinion that can be formally presented to the VA as part of a decision review. An IME can also involve careful consideration of your military medical records to confirm the connection between your military service and your disability. If you have asthma and the VA determines that there is no sufficient connection between your condition and your service, an IME can give you further evidence to present to the VA.

The Power of “Buddy Statements” 

A VA decision review can also involve presenting testimonials from fellow soldiers who have witnessed the impact that your asthma has had on your life and its connection to an injury or event from your time in the military. These testimonials are often called “buddy statements” – accounts from people close to you who can verify that your asthma is severe and that it stems from something that happened to you in the military.

During a decision review, you may present further evidence to support your claim. This additional evidence can include buddy statements from the men and women who served with you in the military. If you developed asthma due to an injury while you were serving in the military, any eyewitness accounts of this event could help support your claim.

Making an Appeal to the VA to Get Your Rating Raised 

If you are suffering from asthma and still cannot get the disability rating you deserve from the VA, it’s time to team up with an attorney and make an appeal. A VA appeal can go a variety of different directions, depending on the details of your claim. The VA appeals process can move to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, based in Washington D.C. Some appeals end up going to even higher courts. You can dispute any VA decision that you disagree with by filing an appeal, whether it be a denial of benefits or a disability rating that is lower than you deserve.

Strong legal representation in the appeals process can be the key to making a successful appeal. To make an appeal to the VA, you could use the support of an attorney who understands how the VA works and what factors they consider when making decisions. The appeals process can easily become discouraging and overwhelming if you feel like you are on your own. But with the help of an attorney who understands your situation and knows how to deal with the VA, you can rest easy knowing that your case is in good hands.

When you need an attorney to represent you in a VA appeal, look no further than the Berry Law team, which is made up of Veterans who have committed to helping fellow Veterans get the compensation they deserve. Berry Law Firm has a team of attorneys with a wide range of specialties, including asthma. If you need help making an appeal to the VA, we’ve got you covered. Call Berry Law today to schedule a free case evaluation.

 

Sources:

http://www.warrelatedillness.va.gov/warrelatedillness/education/factsheets/support/2010-SzemaAM-new-onset-asthma-among-soldiers-serving-in-Iraq-and-Afghanistan.pdf

https://www.jacionline.org/article/S0091-6749(96)80185-0/abstract

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/009167499190408G