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VA Disability Rating for Lung Nodules 2021

VA Disability Rating for Lung Nodules 2021

Lung nodules sound scary, but many people don’t know they have them until they get a chest x-ray. Because nodules count as any spot on the lungs that develops for mysterious reasons, many Veterans have lung nodules but later have difficulty acquiring disability benefits for these growths.

Let’s break down everything you need to know about lung nodules, VA disability benefits for lung nodules, and how to acquire maximum benefits with legal assistance.

Lung Nodules Explained

Lung nodules, also called coin lesions, are small and distinct spots on the lungs measuring 3 cm in diameter or less. Doctors detect lung nodules via x-ray imaging, and most lung nodules are at least 1 cm in size. However, some smaller lung nodules may be detected using CT scans.

Although lung nodules can be associated with cancer, they are not always indicative of this condition. But any spot on the lungs can be cause for concern. Lung nodules are relatively common in individuals who smoke. 

Lung nodules could be a sign of potential health complications relating to the lungs. Lung nodules result from:

  • Inflammation or infection of the lungs
  • Lung cancer or other cancers that may have metastasized. Luckily, around 60% of lung nodules are noncancerous.
  • Tumors, both malignant and benign

No matter the root cause of a person’s lung nodules, it’s important to identify lung nodules early in case serious medical intervention is necessary. Some Veterans may develop lung nodules as a direct consequence of their military services, such as exposure to harmful chemicals, the stresses of combat, and other factors.

Lung Nodules Symptoms

The symptoms of lung nodules can vary greatly depending on the root causes. Most lung nodules are asymptomatic, so those who have lung nodules may not even notice their presence or feel discomfort.

However, some Veterans and other individuals do experience mild to moderate symptoms due to their lung nodules. Depending on what the lung nodules are, symptoms can be very different from person to person. Symptoms can include:

  • Wheezing or difficulty breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • A tight feeling in the chest
  • A persistent cough
  • Coughing up blood or phlegm

A nodule located next to a major airway could indicate a respiratory infection. Given the potential for serious side effects, Veterans who suspect or know that they have lung nodules should get them checked out and treated right away. In many cases, the treatment for lung nodules requires VA disability benefits to pay for medical care.

Some types of lung nodules may fall under VA disability benefits. Receiving VA disability benefits for lung nodules requires establishing a service connection first and foremost. 

Establishing a Service Connection for Lung Nodules

As with all other disability benefits, a Veteran applying for benefits for their lung nodules must first show a direct service connection between the nodules in their lungs and their active military service. This involves three major steps:

  1. Getting written documentation from a current medical practitioner showing the presence of lung nodules
  2. Getting written documentation showing that the lung nodules are causing symptoms that require medical care or that decrease the Veteran’s quality of life
  3. Showing a “medical nexus” or documented event during the Veteran’s military service that caused the lung nodules or led to their development

Medical nexuses include air pollution – especially if the Veteran was exposed to jet fuel or fumes – combat injuries, or exposure to chemical pollutants or toxins. 

Lung Nodules and Secondary Service Connections

In addition to proving a primary service connection to lung nodules, Veterans with secondary service connections may acquire further disability benefits for this condition. When it comes to VA disability benefits, secondary service connections are related to another condition that is already proven to have been service-connected.

For example, a Veteran may have sustained lung damage and required a lung transplant due to injuries sustained in battle. After the transplant, they determine that lung nodules are present in the transplanted lung. The lung nodules have a secondary service connection because they are a direct result of the lung transplant.

All Veterans should be aware that lung nodules can directly result from other lung conditions like asthma, lung cancer, chronic bronchitis, and other issues that may have arisen from their military service. As with proving a direct service connection, Veterans must prove that a medical nexus links their current lung nodules to their military service or a service-connected condition.

Legal experts such as Berry Law can be invaluable for helping Veterans acquire maximum disability benefits for their lung nodules and related conditions.

VA Disability Ratings for Lung Nodules

The VA benefits office has strict ratings codes and schedules for different health conditions. The VA rate lung nodules under DC or Diagnostic Code 6820. This covers a wide range of malignant neoplasms or conditions in the respiratory system. Neoplasms are abnormal and new tissue growth. This often includes cancer but is not limited to that chronic disease.

Because lung nodules are relatively varied in their symptoms, they don’t have a direct rating. Instead, the VA disability rating system often evaluates lung nodules by looking at how similar they are to other respiratory conditions.

For example, the VA ranks specific conditions like bronchitis, COPD, and other vascular diseases. The symptoms described by your medical practitioner will allow the VA rating office to assign you a rating for your lung nodules close to the rating you would receive if you had one of those other respiratory conditions.

All conditions under CD 6820 range from 10% to 100%, meaning you could receive up to 100% of your total maximum disability benefits for your lung nodules if their symptoms are severe enough. To acquire the maximum benefits possible, you’ll want legal experts to look over your paperwork and help you file each of your documents on time and correctly.

Summary

Ultimately, lung nodules are vague enough and often seemingly asymptomatic that many Veterans have difficulty acquiring the benefits they deserve. That’s where we come in.

At Berry Law, we’re dedicated to helping Veterans just like you acquire the compensation they need to cover past and future medical expenses, the cost of ongoing medical treatment, and to compensate Veterans for loss of quality of life. You already served your country – it’s time your country serve you.

You can contact Berry Law today for more information and a free consultation. With our help, we can ensure that your VA disability benefits claim succeeds. Or we can help you overturn a claim denial through the appeals process.

Sources:

Lung Nodules (Pulmonary Nodules): Diagnosis, Causes & Treatment | Cleveland Clinic

Lung Nodules | Cancer.org

Chapter 2 Service-connected Disabilities | Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs

Department of Veterans Affairs § 4.97 | Govinfo.gov

38 CFR § 4.97 – Schedule of ratings – respiratory system. | CFR | US Law | LII / 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.

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