VA Disability for Gout

Veterans are entitled to disability compensation for any injury or disability that is related to their military service. One of the more common disabilities impacting both Veterans and civilians alike is arthritis. Gout is a form of arthritis that can be very painful and severe. You can receive VA disability for gout if its origin can be linked to your military service.

What is Gout?

As mentioned above, Gout is a form of arthritis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Gout is a common form of inflammatory arthritis that is very painful.” Gout most commonly affects the big toe joint.

Gout is caused by hyperuricemia, which happens when the body is overwhelmed with uric acid. When there is an abundance of uric acid in the body, the acid forms crystals that can build up in joints, fluids, and tissues throughout your body.

What are the Symptoms of Gout?

Gout is characterized by flare ups that can start suddenly and last anywhere from a couple days to multiple weeks. Typically, a flare up will be followed by long periods where you experience no symptoms.

Gout usually impacts one joint at a time. The CDC notes that the most common joints affected are the big toe joint, lesser toe joints, the ankle, and the knee, with symptoms including:

  • Intense pain
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Heat

What Causes Gout among Veterans?

Some individuals are more prone to gout than others. According to the CDC, certain aspects of your health can increase your chances of developing gout, including:

  • Being Male
  • Being Overweight
  • Heart Failure
  • High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
  • Diabetes
  • Metabolic Syndrome
  • Kidney disease
  • Taking Diuretics
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Consuming fructose
  • Having a diet high in purines

It is important for Veterans to know that you can receive VA disability for gout on a secondary basis as well. For example, if your time in service led to kidney disease which, in turn, caused your gout, you can receive service connection for gout on a secondary basis.

Gout VA Disability Rating

Gout is a form of arthritis and is therefore rated under 38 CFR § 4.71a, diagnostic code 5002. The maximum VA disability rating a Veteran can receive for gout is 100% in the most severe cases. However, it is common for Veterans to receive a lower rating.  The VA will determine your VA compensation for gout based on the severity and number of flare ups you have per year.

Typically, a Veteran can expect to receive a rating of:

  • 20% – If your flare ups occur once or twice a year.
  • 40% – If you experience three or more flare ups per year.
  • 60% – Incapacitating flare ups occurring four or more times per year or documented weight loss and anemia.

Because the VA rates gout according to the number and severity of flare ups you are subject to, it is important that you document all flare ups, their severity, and the number of days they last.

Getting Service Connection for Gout

Veterans who wish to receive disability compensation for their gout must first prove service connection. Basically, this means that a Veteran needs to provide the VA with sufficient evidence proving the disability was caused by military service. A Veteran can receive service connection for gout on a primary and secondary basis. To receive service connection for gout on a primary basis, just like all disabilities, a Veteran must:

  • Have a current medical diagnosis of the condition
  • Have been subject to an in-service event or traumatic experience that caused the disability
  • Get a medical nexus connecting the in-service event to the current disability

Since there are so many different risk factors associated with gout, it is sometimes difficult to prove service connection. That is why it is so important to provide the VA with the correct documentation when you file your claim.

Often, a Veteran will receive VA compensation for gout based on secondary service connection.

Secondary Service Connection for Gout

Secondary service connection occurs when a primary service-connected disability causes another disability. Since the new disability was caused by a service-connected condition, you are entitled to disability benefits on a secondary basis.

For example, let’s say your military service caused hypertension (high blood pressure). So, you get your hypertension service connected. Later, you develop gout due to your hypertension. You can then file a claim to receive disability benefits for gout secondary to your service-connected hypertension.

Veterans Helping Veterans

Veterans who developed arthritis or gout in the military can receive disability benefits if the condition was caused by military service. If you filed a VA claim for gout but were denied or given a low rating, you have the right to appeal.

Berry Law helps fellow Veterans appeal unfavorable VA decisions. Founded by a Vietnam Veteran in 1965, Berry Law has helped Veterans with their legal needs for over 50 years. If you need assistance appealing your VA decision and getting VA disability for gout, contact a Veteran attorney at Berry Law today to get a free case evaluation.