Hepatitis C is a severe and potentially dangerous disease that affects millions of people each year. Many Veterans develop hepatitis C because of their military service. If this is the case for you or a loved one, you may be entitled to VA disability benefits to pay for medical services and more.
Not sure where to start? Read on to discover everything you need to know about the Department of Veterans Affairs’ hep C compensation and benefits limits for 2022 and beyond.
Hepatitis C is a kind of viral infection that leads to liver information. If left unchecked, hepatitis C can cause severe liver damage and negative health effects.
Before recent medical developments, hepatitis C treatment required patients to receive oral antiviral medications and weekly injections. Unfortunately, many hepatitis C-infected individuals cannot take these medications because of health problems or side effects.
Now, hepatitis C research has led to the development of many oral medications that can help to treat chronic HCV side effects in a matter of months, even for those who could not previously get treatment.
That said, hepatitis C can take decades to appear. Because of this, many victims of hepatitis C infection in the general population aren’t aware they have the disease until they are in their 40s, 50s, or 60s. Veterans can become infected with hepatitis C but not know it until many years down the road and long after they are honorably discharged.
The symptoms of chronic hepatitis C can vary but often include:
Various root incidents can cause or aggravate hepatitis C. Generally, the hepatitis C virus spreads from person to person when infected blood gets into open wounds or is consumed.
Veterans are at a higher risk of developing this infectious disease because they interact with bodily fluids like blood in combat and other scenarios. They share this fact with individuals in the medical industry, such as nurses and emergency room personnel.
Currently, it’s estimated that approximately 230,000 Veterans are infected with hepatitis C, both knowing and unknowing. Furthermore, another 50,000 may carry the hepatitis C virus infection without being aware of it, increasing the prevalence of the disease and making it a serious public health issue.
Veterans born between the years of 1945 and 1962 are more likely to have hepatitis C than other Veterans because of medical practices and because of combat incidents. A high number of Veterans who served in high combat wars, like the Vietnam War, may have been exposed to the hepatitis C virus when treating injured service members or when being injured themselves.
Veterans may be exposed to the hepatitis C virus or be at an increased risk when they:
Not every Veteran has hepatitis C. But if you believe you have developed this virus during or because of your military service or that your military service aggravated your help C, you may be entitled to VA hep C compensation.
The VA rates hepatitis C under Diagnostic Code 7354, categorized alongside other digestive system disorders and internal organs. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, you may receive a rating of between 0% and 100%.
Here’s a breakdown of the disability ratings you can expect:
The incapacitating episodes must have symptoms like fatigue, nausea, vomiting, malaise, anorexia, pain in the right upper quadrant of your body, or arthralgia to qualify.
Generally, you’ll know that you have hepatitis C if you experience these conditions and get diagnosed by a licensed medical professional. Then you can go about securing compensation from the VA.
According to the compensation rates for Veterans throughout 2023, if you receive a 100% disability rating, you can receive up to $4148.03 per month if you don’t have children or up to $4295.92 if you do have children. Check out the VA’s Veterans disability compensation chart for more information.
In any case, getting a positive hepatitis C diagnosis and proving that your hepatitis C development is connected to your military service should result in you receiving a disability rating and associated compensation.
The rating you receive is contingent on the following:
Furthermore, you may qualify for total disability individual unemployability (TDIU) if you have a disability rating of 60% or higher. If you qualify for this benefit, you could receive compensation at the 100% disability rate without having a 100% rating if you can’t maintain substantially gainful employment because of your condition.
Because hepatitis C can affect the liver, it may also lead to developing other negative conditions or disabilities. HCV may cause symptoms including but not limited to:
If you are disabled or experience a significant loss of quality of life because of any of these conditions were disabilities, you may be able to acquire a residual rating/get additional benefits from the VA for those conditions.
The VA treats your hepatitis C as the primary condition acquired during your service. Still, because you developed hepatitis C during your military service, any subsidiary injuries or disabilities caused or aggravated by HCV may qualify for VA compensation.
When the VA calculates residual ratings, every symptom is rated separately. The VA then uses a disability calculator to aggregate all the ratings. It does not just add up the ratings.
It can be difficult to determine what your full VA disability rating will be when accounting for all of your injuries or conditions. Knowledgeable Veterans law attorneys can help you not just apply for hepatitis C compensation and benefits but ensure that all related injuries and disabilities are accounted for and that you get the full range of benefits you deserve.
To recover VA hep C compensation and benefits, you must receive a service connection from the VA by proving the following:
This may require gathering military documents and records to prove where you served and what happened during your service. You may also need to gather lay statements from people who know you and can testify about your symptoms.
Medical evidence, such as diagnosing documents proving you have hepatitis C and documenting your earliest manifestation of symptoms, may also be required to show that you developed hepatitis C because of your time in the military and not because of an unrelated incident.
With the right benefits application, you can get thousands of dollars per month to help pay for your medical bills and other costs related to hepatitis C. Hepatitis C can be debilitating and devastating. Still, you don’t have to face this challenge alone.
Berry Law can help you file your application, appeal a denied VA disability claim, and more when you contact our knowledgeable Veterans law attorneys. Contact us today for a free consultation and more information.
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