Veterans who are dealing with thyroid issues that are related to service are entitled to disability compensation. Thyroid conditions occur when the thyroid fails to produce the correct level of certain hormones. The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland in the neck that is part of the endocrine system and helps regulate body functions by releasing a steady amount of thyroid hormones into the bloodstream. The two types of thyroid conditions covered in this article are hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.
Hypothyroidism, classified by the VA as diagnostic code 7903, is a condition that occurs when an individuals’ thyroid gland fails to keep hormone levels as high as they should be. Conversely, hyperthyroidism, classified by the VA as diagnostic code 7900, occurs when a person’s thyroid gland overproduces certain hormones.
While both of these conditions involve the thyroid gland, the symptoms associated with each are quite different. According to Mayo Clinic, a nonprofit academic medical center, some common symptoms for hypothyroidism include:
Hyperthyroidism, on the other hand, is typically accompanied by:
While the symptoms are quite different, each of these conditions may be caused by certain autoimmune disorders, certain medications, or even environmental triggers. Additionally, further complications can arise if these conditions are left untreated, possibly affecting a person’s heart, nerves, bones, eyes, and mental health. This makes thyroid-related issues serious disabilities that can leave many Veterans compromised in the realms of work, relationships, and everyday life.
If you are suffering from a thyroid condition, you should contact your medical provider as soon as possible. Once you have a diagnosis and a treatment plan, you can begin filing a claim with the VA. If the VA approves your claim, that means you qualify for disability benefits and can receive tax-free monthly compensation for your condition.
What does this mean for our Veteran clients? Military service often exposes service members to a wide range of chemicals and other hazardous materials, which can trigger hyper- or hypothyroidism. Additionally, military service may cause separate conditions which can cause complications or further aggravate a thyroid condition. In this case, hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism may be seen by the VA as secondary conditions.
A secondary condition is a medical or psychological problem that is caused or worsened by a service-related disability. While a secondary condition is not directly linked to a Veteran’s military service, it can still increase a Veteran’s disability rating. The VA considers secondary conditions, including hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, to be grounds for a higher disability rating in some cases. If the VA approves you for a higher disability score based on a secondary condition, this means your monthly benefits will increase.
Getting the right disability rating from the VA is crucial for any disabled Veteran. If you have thyroid problems due to a service-related disability, your thyroid issues can be considered a secondary condition by the VA. This secondary condition should make you eligible to receive disability benefits for the condition.
However, if the VA does not grant you the rating your condition warrants, you can appeal their decision to get a better outcome. You can dispute any VA decision, even if your claim is not denied but rated too low.
While the connection between thyroid problems and a service-related disability is not always present, it does provide a basis for talking to your doctor about the possibility that a connection is present. You can get an opinion from your doctor or another medical professional to determine whether your thyroid condition may have been caused by military service or aggravated by a service-connected condition. Each person’s situation is different, and your doctor or medical professional is best suited to determine whether your condition is related to your time in the military.
Veterans who are suffering from illnesses related to service are entitled to disability compensation. If you are a Veteran and have thyroid problems caused or exacerbated by your time in the military, you deserve the proper compensation. If the VA does not recognize the connection between your thyroid problems and your military service, we can help.
Berry Law helps fellow Veterans get the disability benefits they deserve. Founded by Vietnam Veteran John S. Berry, Sr., the firm has been committed to helping Veterans in their fight for disability benefits for over 20 years. The firm now includes attorneys from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps dedicated to getting their brothers and sisters in service the correct disability rating.
If you were denied disability benefits for your thyroid condition or were given a lower than expected rating, Berry Law can help you appeal. The appeals process can be complicated when you go through it on your own, but with a skilled attorney at your side, making a strong case to the VA is much simpler.
The VA appeals process typically involves a review of the VA’s decision regarding your claim. During the decision review process, the VA may accept additional evidence that can change their decision, leaving you with a claim that is approved or a higher disability rating as a result.
During a decision review, the VA may also accept testimonials from trusted friends, family members, and fellow soldiers who can verify the connection between your thyroid problems and your military service. These testimonials are known as “buddy statements,” and they can play a key role in getting a better disability rating from the VA.
In addition to buddy statements, you can also present the VA with a professional medical second opinion in the form of an Independent Medical Examination (IME) results. An IME is administered by a private doctor, who can assess your condition and verify that your thyroid problems are connected to a service-related disability. The results of this examination can then be presented to the VA as evidence supporting your claim.
When navigating the appeals process on your own, it can be tough to know where to start. Fortunately, Berry Law is here to help you throughout the appeals process. Contact Berry Law today to schedule a free case evaluation and take the next steps in getting the disability benefits you deserve.
Our monthly newsletter features about important and up-to-date veterans' law news, keeping you informed about the changes that matter.