VA Disability Rating for Exercise-Induced Asthma

VA Disability Rating for Exercise-Induced Asthma

Thousands of Veterans experience asthma every day. However, some Veterans may experience exercise-induced asthma, a unique version of this potentially debilitating illness and chronic condition.

In some cases, you may qualify for an exercise-induced asthma VA disability rating if your asthma is secondarily service-connected. Read on for more information, including applying for a disability rating for secondary service connection.

What Is Exercise-Induced Asthma?

Asthma is a chronic condition that causes your airways to narrow due to allergens, stress, or exercise. All types of asthma can make it difficult to breathe. If left untreated, it can even result in serious injury or death. Asthma is a serious condition that affects between 12% to 15% of all adults in the US.

Exercise-induced asthma is asthma that occurs when someone performs strenuous exercise. In an exercise-induced asthma attack, an individual might suddenly have difficulty breathing and feel stressed, panicked, or confused. Depending on the exact causes of asthma, the victim may experience inflammation and/or mucus build-up when they exercise. 

Symptoms of Exercise-Induced Asthma

Some of the most common symptoms of exercise-induced asthma include the following:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing or throat irritation
  • Wheezing
  • Chest pain and tightness
  • Excessive fatigue during exercise

The last symptom can be due to your body not absorbing enough exercise for a strenuous activity, like a workout or physical game. You may feel the symptoms of exercise-induced asthma in the middle, beginning, or end of your workout. In some cases, exercise-induced asthma symptoms can persist for up to an hour or longer.

Furthermore, your asthma may be exacerbated or triggered by ancillary causes, like dry or cold air, pollutants, allergens like pollen, and much more.

Why Might Veterans Need Benefits for Exercise-Induced Asthma?

Unfortunately, many Veterans may experience exercise-induced asthma as a direct result of one or more other service-connected conditions.

Conditions such as PTSD, anxiety, depression, or high-stress levels often require Veterans to exercise frequently to maintain and manage their mental health. 

For example, suppose you develop PTSD because of a traumatic event you witness in your military service. In that case, your therapist may recommend running and another cardiovascular exercise to work off the stress in a healthy, manageable way.

However, when you start to run frequently, you develop the symptoms of exercise-induced asthma. Because of this, your asthma only began because of your PTSD, and your PTSD began because of your military service.

In this way, Veterans may be entitled to benefits for exercise-induced asthma if the asthma:

  • Was not present before the Veteran’s military service (or the Veteran was not aware of it)
  • Triggers because of exercise that is medically mandated or necessary to treat other service-connected conditions/diseases

In theory, the Veteran would not have the asthmatic symptoms if they did not first experience or aggravate their PTSD. 

Can You Get Disability Benefits for Exercise-Induced Asthma?

If you’re a Veteran who experiences exercise-induced asthma, you may be able to receive disability benefits.

First, you must have a primary or direct service-connected disability/condition, such as PTSD, anxiety, depression, or sleep apnea. To prove any kind of secondary service connection, including one for exercise-induced asthma, you must prove that the condition in question arose directly from your primary service-connected condition.

Next, you must have a medical reason to run or perform strenuous exercise to treat your primary service-connected condition.

For instance, if you have PTSD, and your psychiatrist explicitly recommends regular cardiovascular exercise to help treat your symptoms, you may qualify for disability benefits for your exercise-induced asthma.

Lastly, in order to qualify for secondary service connection for your exercise-induced asthma, you must develop asthma symptoms for the first time after beginning your exercise as a treatment for your service-connected condition. If you already had asthma before your military service or before beginning treatment for a service-connected condition, you may not be able to get disability benefits for it.

In the case of exercise-induced asthma, you must also show that you only experience asthma as a direct result of your exercise rather than just air pollution. You must also showcase that your exercise is necessary to deal with another primary service-connected condition like PTSD.

This can be difficult, even in the best of circumstances. Therefore, you should gather as much evidence as possible before making your claim and rely on the expertise of knowledgeable Veterans law attorneys. 

How Does the VA Rate Exercise-Induced Asthma?

The VA rates all types of asthma, including exercise-induced asthma, according to diagnostic code 6602. Ratings for asthma depend on the severity and the frequency of asthma attacks and can range from a 0% rating to a 100% disabled rating.

The VA rates exercise-induced asthma based on two specific tests or metrics:

  • Forced expiratory volume (FEV-1). This measures how much air a Veteran can exhale forcefully in one second or less. For this metric, the VA compares a Veteran’s FEV-1 against how much error a normal individual should be able to breathe out based on factors like sex, size, and age. It’s measured as a percentage.
  • Forced vital capacity (FVC). The VA compares a given Veteran’s FEV-1 results to their FVC in a ratio. The ratio results tell the VA the proportion of an individual’s vital capacity to expel in the first full second of a forceful exhalation. “Vital capacity” is simply the maximum amount of air a person can inhale or exhale from their lungs.

Veterans will take both tests during a Compensation and Pension (C&P) exam. Depending on the test results, a Veteran may then receive an exercise-induced asthma rating, which Veterans can add to their primary disability rating.

Alternatively, the Veteran must require systemic oral or parenteral high-dose corticosteroids or immunosuppressive medications daily.

How Do You Apply for Disability Benefits for Exercise-Induced Asthma?

To apply for disability benefits for exercise-induced asthma, you must prove that you have a secondary service connection to the condition. This involves:

  • Gathering medical evidence that you have exercise-induced asthma. The best evidence to gather includes notes from your primary care physician or other doctors that you see regularly. They can back up your claims and write a nexus letter demonstrating that you did not have asthmatic symptoms until you developed your primary service-connected condition.
  • Gathering lay statements and other evidence from friends or family members. Lay statements can support your claim by providing stories or evidence of your asthmatic symptoms and difficulty handling strenuous exercise.
  • Applying for a disability benefits increase.

Veterans law attorneys can help you through the application process step-by-step. They can ensure you file the right paperwork, assist with gathering evidence, and ensure that you do everything correctly with your filing that can delay or derail your claim.

Contact Berry Law Today

If you have to exercise because of your health, and if that exercise results in asthmatic symptoms and reactions, you could qualify for service-connected disability benefits. The VA will compensate you for asthma medicine and other treatments if your asthma is at all related to a primary service-connected condition, so consider applying for these benefits as quickly as you can.

Of course, that’s much easier with knowledgeable Veterans law attorneys on your side. Berry Law can help you file an effective claim and help you understand the secondary service-connected claims process in more detail. Contact us today to learn more.


Asthma | CDC

Exercise-Induced Asthma: Fresh Insights and an Overview – PMC | NCBI

38 CFR § 4.97 – Schedule of ratings – respiratory system. | Cornell

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.

Related Posts

​Can the VA Take Away 100 Percent Permanent and Total Disability?
Can the VA Take Away 100 Percent Permanent and Total Disability?
VA Disability Rating for Compartment Syndrome Introduction
VA Disability Rating for Compartment Syndrome Introduction
Does the VA Cover Dental Benefits for Disabled Vets?
Does the VA Cover Dental Benefits for Disabled Vets?

Subscribe to our E-newsletter

The Service Connection

Our monthly newsletter features about important and up-to-date veterans' law news, keeping you informed about the changes that matter.

Skip to content