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 chance of developing harmful health conditions — including everything from diabetes and heart disease to various kinds of cancer.  

One specific condition a Veteran may develop after exposure is ischemic heart disease. Understanding ischemic heart disease and the associated VA disability rating is key to ensuring you receive the disability benefits you deserve. Read on for a detailed breakdown of the VA rating for ischemic heart disease due to 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, the condition can cause 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 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. An 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 havinging to prove the connection between military service and the claimed condition. For example, many conditions are classified as “presumptive” due to Agent Orange exposure and are service connected because of the correlation.  

Veterans who may have been exposed to Agent Orange during 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. 

Therefore, all Veterans who served in the following locations during the times specified — and who have developed ischemic heart disease — 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 any of these locations during these times, you might be eligible for VA disability benefits on a presumptive basis. 

Linking Ischemic Heart Disease to Your Military Service

However, even if you are not eligible for benefits on a presumptive basis, you may still be entitled to VA disability compensation. You will need to establish a direct link between your ischemic heart disease and your military service. 

For example, you may need to demonstrate the association by documenting the work you performed and the location it occurred. You can further support your disability claim by providing the following: 

  • Medical records from during and after your military service. 
  • “Lay evidence,” such as recorded symptoms and/or a narrative account of your experience(s). 
  • A medical nexus letter from a licensed medical professional. This is an official medical opinion stating that the provider believes your condition to have been caused by, or a result of, your military service. 

Presumptive Service Connection

If you served in any of the above locations during the times specified, you do not have to gather additional evidence to establish a connection between your condition and Agent Orange exposure. The VA presumes you have been exposed and the resulting condition is directly related to that exposure. With your medical diagnosis you will automatically qualify for a presumptive service connection. 

If you qualify for presumptive service connection, you, your spouse, any dependent children, and/or dependent parents may be eligible for VA survivors’ benefits. 

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, the section for cardiovascular system diseases and conditions. Depending on your symptoms, you may be assigned a disability rating between 10% and 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, and additionally, evidence of cardiac hypertrophy/dye location on electrocardiogram, x-ray, or echocardiogram. 
  • 60% rating: Assigned to Veterans with a heart workload of more than 3 METs but less than 6 METs; and/or Veterans who experienced more than one episode of acute congestive heart failure in the last year. Associated all above symptoms, and additionally left ventricular dysfunction 
  • 100% rating: Assigned to Veterans with a heart workload of 3 METs or less; and/or Veterans with chronic congestive heart failure. Associated with above symptoms. 

Temporary 100% Disability Rating

Depending on a Veteran’s condition, s/he may need heart surgery to alleviate or minimize their ischemic heart disease symptoms. After heart surgery, a Veteran may receive a temporary 100% disability rating during recovery. 

The below surgeries qualify for a 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 the temporary 100% disability benefit be reduced to the previous rating.

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. 

To qualify, the Veteran must be unable to obtain or maintain substantially gainful employment. For example, if a Veteran cannot work because of their ischemic heart disease or associated symptoms, s/he could qualify for Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU). 

The following requirements must be met: 

  • 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. 

If the Veteran does not meet the above criteria, there is still a possibility of obtaining the benefit. In that case, a Veteran must show that their ischemic heart disease prevents them from obtaining or maintaining substantially gainful employment. This is easier with a medical nexus letter from a licensed healthcare professional. 

If you believe you qualify for TDIU due to your ischemic heart disease, 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 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 have experienced negative health symptoms because of Agent Orange exposure, you do not have to file your benefits claim alone. 

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

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

Contact us today for a free case evaluation.


Ischemic Heart Disease — Cardiovascular Disability | National Library of Medicine

Veterans’ Diseases Associated With Agent Orange |

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 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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