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VA Rating for Ischemic Heart Disease From Agent Orange

VA Rating for Ischemic Heart Disease From Agent Orange

Agent Orange exposure can increase a Veteran’s chances of developing harmful health conditions — including everything from diabetes and heart disease to various kinds of cancer. 

One specific health condition that Veterans may develop after Agent Orange exposure is ischemic heart disease. This condition is common enough that there is a specific VA disability rating for it.

Understanding ischemic heart disease and the VA disability rating associated with it is key to ensuring you receive the disability benefits you deserve for your service. Read on for a detailed breakdown of the VA rating for ischemic heart disease from Agent Orange.

What Is Ischemic Heart Disease?

Ischemic heart disease describes a range of heart problems related to narrowed heart arteries. Also called coronary artery disease, ischemic heart disease causes less blood and oxygen to reach the heart.

Over time, these narrowed arteries can cause negative complications and symptoms, including but not limited to:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Intense chest pain
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness 
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Indigestion
  • Heartburn
  • Fatigue
  • Cold sweats

In most non-military cases, ischemic heart disease is typically caused by cholesterol plaque buildup in the arteries.

Although ischemic heart disease can be quite severe if left unaddressed, there are many treatment options available. For example, lifestyle changes like eating a healthier diet, increasing exercise, and taking medication are all options for people with ischemic heart disease. In the most severe cases, surgery may be required.

Agent Orange and VA Disability Benefits

Agent Orange was a combination of two herbicides used by the US military in Vietnam and in surrounding theaters/military operations. A herbicidal warfare agent, it was also used for industrial agriculture before its health effects were fully understood.

Today, exposure to Agent Orange has been linked to a wide range of severe health conditions in Veterans. In many cases, even short-term exposure to the chemical can lead to the development of cancer, lung issues, and much more.

Because of this, Agent Orange exposure often qualifies many Veterans for VA disability benefits without needing the disability to be service-connected. For example, many conditions are classified as presumptive conditions after Agent Orange exposure.

Veterans who may have been exposed to Agent Orange during their tours of service should contact a knowledgeable Veterans law attorney for more information.

Connection Between Ischemic Heart Disease and Agent Orange

As of the 2008 Veterans and Agent Orange update report written by the Health and Medicine Division of the National Academies, Agent Orange has been associated with a higher-than-average chance of developing ischemic heart disease.

In other words, exposure to Agent Orange could cause a Veteran to develop this condition even if they were not previously at risk of it.

Therefore, all Veterans who served in the below locations during the below timeframes — and who developed ischemic heart disease after this service — may be entitled to a service connection for disability benefits.

  • Any Veterans who served “boots on the ground” in Vietnam or who served on inland waterways, as well as “blue water” Navy Veterans who served in the same area, between the dates of January 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975.
  • Any Veterans who flew or worked in and around C-123 aircraft during the Vietnam War.
  • Any Veterans who served in or around the Korean Demilitarized Zone between the dates of September 1, 1967, and August 31, 1971.

If you served in these areas and between these timeframes, you might be eligible for VA disability benefits right now on a presumptive basis.

Linking Ischemic Heart Disease to Your Military Service

However, even if you aren’t eligible for benefits on a presumptive basis, you might still be entitled to VA disability compensation. You just have to establish a direct link between your ischemic heart disease and your time in the military.

For example, you may need to demonstrate that your heart disease symptoms are due to your military service by documenting the kind of work you carried out and the location where your work took place. You can support your disability claim by gathering:

  • Medical treatment records from during and after your time in the military.
  • “Lay evidence,” such as recorded symptoms of your everyday life experiences.
  • A medical nexus letter can be provided by a licensed medical professional. A medical nexus letter is essentially an official opinion stating that the medical professional believes your ischemic heart disease or other conditions to be caused by your military service.

Presumptive Service Connection

If you served in any of the above locations in the above time periods, you don’t have to gather additional evidence to establish a connection between your ischemic heart disease and Agent Orange exposure. Rather, with your medical diagnosis of ischemic heart disease, you will automatically qualify for a presumptive service connection.

Should you qualify for this presumptive service connection, you, your spouse, any dependent children, and any dependent parents may be eligible for VA survivors’ benefits, as well.

VA Disability Ratings for Ischemic Heart Disease From Agent Orange

According to the VA’s Schedule of Ratings, ischemic heart disease is rated under Diagnostic Code 7005 in the same section as other cardiovascular system diseases and conditions. Depending on the symptoms you experience, you may be assigned a disability rating anywhere from 10% to 100%.

  • 10% rating: Assigned to Veterans with a heart workload of more than 7 METs but less than 11 METs. Associated with symptoms like fatigue, angina, dizziness, syncope, dyspnea, etc.
  • 30% rating: Assigned to Veterans with a heart workload of more than 5 METs but less than 8 METs. Associated with the above symptoms as well as evidence of cardiac hypertrophy/dye location on electrocardiogram, x-ray, or echocardiogram.
  • 60% rating: Assigned to Veterans who experienced more than one episode of acute congestive heart failure in the last year. Also assigned to Veterans with a heart workload of more than 3 METs but less than 6 METs. Associated with the above symptoms, in addition to left ventricular dysfunction
  • 100% rating: Assigned to Veterans with chronic congestive heart failure. Also assigned to Veterans with a heart workload of 3 METs or less. Associated with the above symptoms.

Temporary 100% Disability Rating

Depending on the symptoms a Veteran experiences, they may need to undergo heart surgery to alleviate or minimize their ischemic heart disease symptoms. In the aftermath of heart surgery, a Veteran may receive a temporary 100% disability rating during recovery.

The below surgeries qualify for the temporary 100% disability rating:

  • Heart transplants
  • Heart valve repair or replacement surgery
  • Pacemaker insertion
  • Coronary artery bypass grafting

Approximately one year after surgery, a Veteran may be considered “recovered,” and their temporary 100% disability benefits may return to their previous lower level.

Total Disability Rating for Ischemic Heart Disease

Some Veterans may qualify for a 100% total disability rating for their ischemic heart disease. This disability benefit compensates Veterans as if they had a 100% disability rating level — even if they don’t technically meet the criteria for it.

In this case, the Veteran must be unable to get or maintain substantially gainful employment. For example, if a Veteran can’t work because of their ischemic heart disease or associated symptoms, they could qualify for Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU).

To qualify, a Veteran must have:

  • A single disability condition rated at 60% minimum OR
  • Two disability conditions that, combined, reach 70%. One of the two conditions must have a disability rating of 40% minimum.

Alternatively, a Veteran must prove that their ischemic heart disease condition uniquely prevents them from getting gainful employment. This is easier with a medical note or medical nexus letter from a licensed healthcare professional.

If you believe you qualify for TDIU due to your ischemic heart disease symptoms, you should contact Veterans law attorneys right away. The right legal team can support you in gathering the right evidence, filing your disability benefits claim, and even going through the appeals process if your claim is initially denied.

Contact Veterans Law Attorneys Today

Even in the best of circumstances, it can be challenging to get the disability benefits you deserve for your ischemic heart disease. If you’ve experienced negative health symptoms because of Agent Orange exposure, you don’t have to file your benefits claim alone.

Instead, contact Berry Law. As experienced Veterans law attorneys, we’re ready to assist you in any way possible. 

We can help you file a disability benefits claim for your ischemic heart disease symptoms, help prove a service-related connection between your condition and Agent Orange exposure, or help you show that your ischemic heart disease counts as a presumptive condition.

Contact us today for a free case evaluation.

Sources:

Ischemic Heart Disease — Cardiovascular Disability | National Library of Medicine

Veterans’ Diseases Associated With Agent Orange | VA.gov

Veterans and Agent Orange: Update 2008 | National Academies

38 CFR § 4.104 — Schedule of Ratings — Cardiovascular System | Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute

Berry Law

The attorneys at Berry Law Firm are dedicated to helping injured Veterans. With extensive experience working with VA disability claims, Berry Law can help you with your disability appeals.

This material is for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship between the Firm and the reader, and does not constitute legal advice. Legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and the contents of this blog are not a substitute for legal counsel.

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