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VA Disability for Hysterectomy for Beginners

VA Disability for Hysterectomy for Beginners

VA disability benefits aren’t only available for chronic conditions or specific surgeries. Many female Veterans are surprised to discover that VA disability benefits are available for hysterectomies, which are surgeries that remove some or all of their reproductive systems.

However, VA disability ratings for hysterectomies are a little more complex than the rating systems for other benefits claims. Benefits are dependent on how much of the reproductive system was removed and other circumstances surrounding the claim.

Today, let’s break down VA disability for hysterectomy in detail. This guide will be beneficial if you’re a beginner to the VA benefits system overall.

What’s a Hysterectomy?

A hysterectomy is a surgery that removes a woman’s entire or partial reproductive system, including the cervix, uterus, or ovaries. There are three types of hysterectomies:

  • A total hysterectomy involves removing the reproductive system as a whole from the patient.
  • A partial hysterectomy involves removing the upper part of the uterus and leaving the cervix.
  • A radical hysterectomy involves removing several structures around the uterus.

Different types of hysterectomies may be necessary depending on doctor recommendations, the presence of cancer, or other chronic symptoms. Regardless, hysterectomies are difficult on the body and often require long recovery periods. 

Why Might Some Women Need a Hysterectomy?

Many women, including Veterans, could need a hysterectomy for a wide variety of reasons, including:

  • Uterine fibroids, which are the most common reasons for hysterectomies
  • Pelvic support issues, such as uterine prolapse
  • Endometriosis, in which the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterus
  • Abnormal uterine bleeding
  • Cancer, either gynecologic or other cancer that may have metastasized
  • Chronic pelvic pain
  • Injuries sustained in combat

Women now comprise about 14.5% of all active-duty military members, so the number of military Veterans who require hysterectomies has increased.

Because of this, the VA has recently extended VA disability benefits to hysterectomy surgeries and related conditions to make benefits fair and equal for both sexes.

VA Service Connections to Hysterectomies

To receive VA disability benefits for any condition, service connection must be established. This is no different for hysterectomies, though it can be more complex or challenging to prove a service connection given the nature of the surgery. Legal experts at Berry Law may help or assist female Veterans attempting to overturn a denied claim through the appeals process.

To establish a service connection for their hysterectomy, female Veterans must demonstrate that:

  • They had a completed hysterectomy
  • They had an inservice event connected to their hysterectomy
    There is a  medical nexus between their in-service event, illness, or injury, that led to the hysterectomy.

The in service event doesn’t necessarily have to affect the uterus directly. It can affect the rest of the body but eventually leads to a medically necessary hysterectomy over time.

Some examples of in service events include:

  • A gunshot wound to the abdomen that severely damaged the uterus.
  • A Veteran sustained an injury that caused a buildup of scar tissue, leading to a medical condition that required a hysterectomy.
  • A Veteran was exposed to Agent Orange or similar toxic chemicals, leading to cancer or other side effects that gradually required a medically necessary hysterectomy.

While this may seem complex, hysterectomy claims are among the most common service-connected conditions that women Veterans claim today. Veterans who are entitled to VA disability benefits should enlist the help of attorneys like Berry Law. An experienced VA attorney may be able to help you determine the medical nexus leading to your hysterectomy and present the most effective claims case possible to the VA.

Secondary Service Connections

In addition, female Veterans may establish a secondary service connection to receive VA disability benefits for their hysterectomies. A secondary service connection is a medical condition caused by a primary medical condition for which the Veteran is already receiving disability benefits.

For example, a Veteran undergoes a partial hysterectomy to save her life after a gunshot wound to the abdomen. Later, she must undergo a complete hysterectomy due to the buildup of scar tissue or an infection. The complete hysterectomy may qualify for additional benefits and compensation as it is probably related to her military service.

In many cases, secondary service connections can increase your total disability benefits rating – possibly even up to 100%.

VA Disability Ratings for Hysterectomies

As of September 2017, the VA has updated its Schedule for Rating Disabilities. VA disability ratings for hysterectomies are broken down into two codes:

  • Diagnostic Code 7617 is for female Veterans who have had both the ovaries and uterus removed during hysterectomy surgery. Disability benefits are automatically rated at a percentage of 100% for the first three months after the removal of the reproductive organs. Then they drop to 50%.
  • Diagnostic Code 7618 is for female Veterans who only have the uterus removed during hysterectomy surgery. Disability benefits are automatically rated at a percentage of 100% for the first three months after surgery, then drop to 30% thereafter.

In both cases, the 50% and 30% disability benefits floors are only minimums. They may be increased depending on the symptoms or side effects that a female Veteran experiences after or as she recovers from her surgery.

Furthermore, any other gynecological conditions or breast disorders are rated under the same diagnostic codes above, usually for full or partial surgeries, respectively.

Additional Monthly Compensation

If a female Veteran receives a disability rating above 30% for her hysterectomy surgery, the VA will also consider whether others in her family rely on her for financial support. For example, if you underwent a hysterectomy surgery and have a disability rating of 40% after recovery, but you have two children who are dependents, you may receive additional monthly compensation.

This special monthly compensation only lasts until the dependents are no longer under your care, however. After this point, your disability rating will return to its normal state and the additional monthly compensation will cease.

Summary

Navigating the intricacies of VA disability ratings for hysterectomies, both full and partial, can be tough to do alone. That’s why Berry Law Veterans Law Attorneys is here to help.

We have many years of experience supporting Veterans just like you and helping them to acquire the maximum benefits possible for their hysterectomies or other service-related conditions. On top of that, we can help you overturn a denied claim through the appeals process. You’ve already done your part for your country; let us do our part for you and make sure you can pay for your medical bills and live comfortably.

Contact Berry Law for a free consultation and more information to see how we can help with your VA benefits claim today. 

Sources:

Hysterectomy: Purpose, Procedure, Benefits, Risks & Recovery | Cleveland Clinic

Should You Have a Hysterectomy? How to Decide | NY Department of Health

By the numbers: Women in the US military | CNN

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

Diagnostic Code 7618 | VA.gov

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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