Thrombophlebitis is a condition that causes inflammation in the leg, eventually leading to a blood clot. The condition can be painful, and swelling is common around the clots caused by thrombophlebitis. Thrombophlebitis can be caused by an injury, by long periods of time without moving, or chronic inflammation.
Many people who sustain leg injuries develop thrombophlebitis after being immobilized for a long period. Because immobility and lack of circulation can lead to blood clotting in the legs, thrombophlebitis can be a painful side effect of other injuries. The condition is common in Veterans who have leg injuries or are immobile due to prior injuries.
The symptoms of thrombophlebitis can vary in severity, especially depending on where clotting forms. Some cases of thrombophlebitis cause clotting nearer to the surface of the skin – these cases are known as superficial thrombophlebitis. Cases in which clotting forms deeper in a vein are known as deep vein thrombosis.
Many disabled Veterans may develop thrombophlebitis as a result of service-connected disabilities. If a soldier sustains a leg injury in combat, they may require intensive treatment and, in some cases, even surgery. Complications during surgery can increase the chances of the development of leg inflammation, as can the time a soldier spends immobilized due to a leg injury. These factors can increase the chances of a soldier dealing with chronic leg inflammation and swelling long after they have retired from the service.
Thrombophlebitis As A Secondary Condition
Because thrombophlebitis can develop as a result of other service-connected injuries, the condition can be listed as a secondary disability on a Veteran’s application for disability compensation. A secondary condition is any form of disability that is caused or worsened by a service-connected disability.
A secondary condition can impact a Veteran’s disability rating significantly. If a Veteran is already receiving disability benefits for another service-connected disability, thrombophlebitis can potentially qualify them for additional compensation.
If the VA can verify that a Veteran’s thrombophlebitis has been caused or worsened by a service-connected disability, the Veteran can receive a higher disability rating as compensation for both their primary and secondary disabilities.
Because thrombophlebitis is a form of inflammation, it can often persist for years and even decades. The pain and swelling caused by thrombophlebitis leave many Veterans severely impaired in their ability to walk. Many Veterans may need to take time off from work due to inflammation caused by thrombophlebitis, and many others may have to quit their jobs completely due to physical impairment.
Thrombophlebitis can be treated with medications designed to treat blood clotting. However, treatment for the condition is often ongoing and can continue for the rest of a Veteran’s life in more severe cases. If you are dealing with thrombophlebitis and continue to seek treatment for your symptoms, you may be able to receive long-term disability benefits.
While thrombophlebitis may not qualify a Veteran for disability benefits in some cases, it is often easier to obtain benefits if you can establish that your thrombophlebitis is chronic and linked to a service-connected disability. If your thrombophlebitis causes you to be consistently in need of treatment, you can most likely maintain a high disability rating for the condition.
If you are receiving disability benefits for thrombophlebitis as a secondary condition, your disability benefits for the condition may be lower. A secondary condition can lead to an increase in your disability score, but this increase may not be as significant as you would get from a primary disability. This is because the VA math is a little weird. See how the VA calculates combined VA disability ratings.
Thrombophlebitis can qualify a Veteran for a disability rating that is as high as 100 percent in some cases, but the condition needs to be severely disabling to qualify for such a high rating. Thrombophlebitis that the VA views as warranting a 100 percent disability rating will cause severe and nearly constant swelling and pain. If these symptoms significantly impair a Veteran’s movement and make it difficult for them to work and function in everyday life, their chances will be much higher of obtaining a 100 percent disability rating for thrombophlebitis.
In many cases, a disabled Veteran can qualify for a 100 percent disability rating if they suffer from thrombophlebitis and another service-connected disability. Since thrombophlebitis is often linked with leg injuries, many Veterans can qualify for benefits based on a cumulative disability score. This disability rating is based on ratings for a combination of service-connected disabilities.
If you are approved to receive disability benefits from the VA, these benefits are yours indefinitely. However, in some cases, the VA may find grounds to either increase or decrease your disability rating over time. The VA periodically re-evaluates a Veteran’s condition(s) to determine whether their disability status should be changed.
Many Veterans suffering from thrombophlebitis may find their disability scores decreasing over time by default. This decrease in a Veteran’s score may occur if the VA is under the impression that the Veteran’s symptoms will improve over time. Since thrombophlebitis can be a chronic condition, the VA is highly unlikely to find grounds for decreasing a Veteran’s rating for the condition, even after several years.
If the VA defaults to lowering your disability rating for thrombophlebitis, you can request a reevaluation of your condition to maintain your score. In some cases, a reevaluation can even lead to an increase in a Veteran’s rating. Make sure to keep the VA updated on any changes in your condition — if your symptoms get worse, you may be eligible for higher benefits than you are currently receiving.
In most cases, the VA will allow you to maintain the same level of disability compensation for thrombophlebitis if your symptoms remain the same. However, many Veterans symptoms get worse over time, but they do not realize that they may be able to qualify for higher disability benefits.
If you are starting to notice your thrombophlebitis symptoms worsening, contact the VA and ask for your condition to be re-evaluated. You may be able to get your disability rating increased based on the changes in your condition. A higher disability rating can help you get the financial support that you need – and if you are dealing with more severe symptoms, you deserve a higher disability rating.
If you are dealing with service-connected thrombophlebitis and are already receiving VA disability benefits, you may still be eligible for higher levels of monthly compensation. Sometimes, the VA assesses a Veteran’s condition inaccurately and determines that they should only qualify for a certain level of monthly benefits. If you feel that the VA has given you a disability rating for thrombophlebitis that is too low, you can appeal the VA’s decision with the help of an attorney.
During a VA appeal, you can submit additional medical evidence to the VA to support your claim. If you are trying to make a case that your thrombophlebitis is more severe than the VA assessed, getting an Independent Medical Examination (IME) may help. An IME is an exam administered by a private doctor who is not affiliated with the VA. Once your doctor has assessed your condition and reviewed your military medical records, you can present a statement to the VA that can have an impact on their final decision regarding your claim. If a doctor concludes that your symptoms are more severe than the VA initially thought, you should be able to qualify for a higher disability rating for thrombophlebitis.
In addition, acknowledging the presence of other service-connected disabilities and secondary conditions can also affect your disability rating. If your current rating is lower than you think you deserve, a non-VA-affiliated doctor can potentially diagnose you with other service-connected disabilities or secondary conditions through an IME. By performing a medical examination and reviewing your military medical records, your doctor may be able to conclude and verify that you are dealing with more service-connected disabilities than the VA initially thought. If your doctor diagnoses you with another service-connected disability or a secondary condition, you should be able to qualify for a higher disability rating.
If you are struggling to navigate the VA appeals process and get the benefits you deserve, we can help. Berry Law’s team of dedicated attorneys comprises Veterans of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps, and all of our lawyers are fully equipped to help you make an appeal to the VA. Appealing a VA decision with the help of a skilled attorney could be vital to getting a better outcome for your VA disability claim.
Contact us today to get a free consultation and start the process of getting the benefits that you deserve.
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