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VA Disability for Parkinson’s Disease
VA Disability for Service-Connected Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease is a very serious progressive brain disorder, meaning it gradually gets worse over time. According to Mayo Clinic, a nonprofit medical center, typical symptoms associated with the disease include tremors, slowed movement, rigid muscles, balance problems, loss of automatic movements, speech changes, and writing changes.
Anybody who has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s is dealing with a serious disorder that can drastically change your life. However, Veterans may be able to receive VA disability for Parkinson’s disease if they can prove it was caused by military service.
Parkinson’s and Agent Orange
Parkinson’s disease is unfortunately a very common disability among Veterans. The VA estimates that 110,000 Veterans currently have Parkinson’s disease. A large number of these are Vietnam Veterans, largely due to their exposure to Agent Orange. Many Veterans are undercompensated for their Parkinson’s because of the complicated manner the VA uses to evaluate it.
What is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s disease is an incurable nervous system disorder. The condition often starts with relatively minor symptoms and gradually worsens. Parkinson’s can cause tremors, particularly in the extremities. Alternatively, it can cause muscular stiffness that is painful and limits range of motion. Parkinson’s often impairs and slows movement which makes simple tasks difficult and time-consuming.
Parkinson’s may also cause a loss of balance and poor posture. Further, Parkinson’s may make it difficult to speak and swallow. Parkinson’s symptoms can cause severe disability and it is therefore important to make sure the VA provides an appropriate rating.
How is Parkinson’s Rated?
Parkinson’s disease is not evaluated as its own condition in the VA rating schedule. Instead it is evaluated based on its symptoms. A Veteran who has an “ascertainable residual” and is service connected for Parkinson’s is entitled to a minimum 30% evaluation based on rating code 8004 – Paralysis agitans. An ascertainable residual is a symptom that a lay person is capable of observing. Many of the symptoms of Parkinson’s fit this description, such as tremors, slowed movement, poor posture, and difficulty speaking. The VA often fails to provide even the 30% minimum evaluation and erroneously provides a lower rating.
To receive a VA disability rating for Parksinson’s higher than 30%, you must evaluate each additional ascertainable residual separately. Once each ascertainable residual is granted a separate rating, they are combined with the 30% base rating to create the overall evaluation.
There are four primary residuals of Parkinson’s that are often evaluated:
- Postural instability
These symptoms are evaluated by the rating schedule based on whether the symptoms affect your upper or lower extremities.
For upper extremities, you can receive a 20% evaluation for mild incomplete paralysis, a 30% evaluation for moderate incomplete paralysis, a 50% evaluation for severe incomplete paralysis, and 70% for complete paralysis.
Similarly, for lower extremities you can receive VA disability for Parkinson’s at a 10% evaluation for mild incomplete paralysis, a 20% evaluation for moderate incomplete paralysis, a 40% evaluation for moderately severe incomplete paralysis, a 60% evaluation for severe incomplete paralysis, and an 80% evaluation for complete paralysis.
Other ascertainable residuals that are separately rated include:
- Difficulty swallowing (also known as dysphagia)
- Speech problems (also known as dysarthria)
- Facial muscle paralysis
- Cognitive disorders
- Bladder incontinence
- Bowel problems
Each of these residuals is entitled to a separate evaluation.
Veterans Disability Lawyers
Berry Law is America’s Veterans law firm, and your fire support team to fight the VA. If you applied for VA disability for Parkinson’s and were denied or under-evaluated, we can help you appeal. With a team full of Veterans, we have the experience you need to get your claim approved. Contact Berry Law today to schedule a free case evaluation with a member of our team and fight for the benefits you deserve.
Established in 1965 by Vietnam War veteran and attorney John Stevens Berry Sr., Berry Law Firm is a team of veterans dedicated to defending, safeguarding, and fighting to protect the rights of veterans. Over the decades, thousands of veterans from across the country and all branches of the military have trusted our firm with their cases and, more importantly, their futures.