Veterans can get VA Disability Benefits for Service-Connected Asthma symptoms
While bronchitis is a condition where you get a buildup of mucus in your windpipe that doesn’t go away quickly, Asthma comes upon a person as a rapid buildup of mucus or swelling of your windpipe. It can be caused by pollutants in the air, stress, an allergic reaction, physical activity, or even food preservatives or acid reflux. Because service-members in all branches can be subjected to pollutants, physical exertion, and stress, it is a viable cause for VA disability claims.
The Mayo clinic shows conditions that can increase your likelihood of having asthma.
- Relatives with asthma
- Allergic conditions (hay fever counts in this)
- Being overweight
- Exposure to second-hand smoke
- Exhaust fumes, like diesel exhaust, or other air pollution
- Occupational triggers such as pesticides, farming chemicals, manufacturing, and hairdressing.
These last two points are the areas where the Veterans Administration gets involved. If you served in any of the armed forces, whether you saw combat or not, and you think you have shortness of breath because of it, call us. Iraq and Afghanistan have their burn pits, Vietnam had Agent Orange, and every unit has a number of trucks, tanks, or boats spewing out some nasty exhaust. Even marching on foot through deserted buildings can subject you to smoke, asbestos, chemicals, and smells that are warning you of toxic air. Any of these could start your asthma symptoms that will slowly worsen over time.
- Veterans can get VA Disability Benefits for Service-Connected Asthma symptoms
- Does it Matter How You Got Your Asthma in the Military?
- How to Know If You Have Asthma
- Agent Orange and Asthma
- Get Help with Your Asthma Claim Appeal
- How Bad Does Your Asthma Have to Be to Get Disability?
- Appeal Your Case for VA Asthma Disability
- VA Rating Schedule for Asthma
- TDIU Benefits for Asthma
Does it Matter How You Got Your Asthma in the Military?
Getting your asthma service-connected depends on what kinds of things you did and where you did them. Within one year of discharge from serving in the Persian Gulf or other parts of the Southwest Asia theater, you might be able to get a presumptive rating. You or your surviving spouse have to report them by December 31, 2021, for it to be listed as presumptive and have a 10% or higher rating.
You can enlist with Asthma. Depending on if it is linked to heredity or an allergy, the Army won’t deny you just because you have asthma. Over time, that diesel exhaust can aggravate and make it worse and that can be a service-connected disability. If your active duty makes a pre-existing condition worse, you can get it rated and get a check for it. Asthma is one of those tricky conditions to diagnose. It can have symptoms like bronchitis or heartburn. Asthma can also be a warning illness for COPD or emphysema depending on how those diseases progress.
How to Know If You Have Asthma
You should already get your lungs checked if you were a Persian Gulf War veteran. The Mayo Clinic reports significantly higher rates of asthma, PTSD, and conditions like fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue, etc. in Gulf War vets. Either way, you’ll want to talk to your doctor about checking your breathing. If you have shortness of breath, difficulty breathing or a heavy chest, make note of it. Even if you only have a few episodes of difficulty a year, your doctor will want to know about it. You can also list them if it happens whenever you try to run or play with your kids, or when the weather is at a certain condition, or around the time you catch a cold.
One study of an airplane mechanic found that he showed symptoms of asthma during the work week but then the symptoms subsided on 3 day weekends. When he was on leave for over 3 days, his asthma symptoms went away. That would be enough to seek a VA rating for asthma because of the long-term effects of such work. Signs like that can help you see the difference between longer lasting COPD and asthma.
Agent Orange and Asthma
Just like with the Persian Gulf War Syndrome, many Vietnam vets have developed illnesses from exposure to Agent Orange. Asthma might start with an occasional breathing episode but then increase to more than one attack per week. As the episodes of respiratory failure increase with age or other health issues, you’ll want to follow up with your doctor and your VA disability lawyer. Many veterans that had their application denied can now appeal their claim since the VA has learned more about Blue Water vets.
Even if your respiratory condition is full-blown COPD at this point, you can still get backpay to the 70s if you can show symptoms of asthma after coming home from Vietnam. VA disability for asthma is a funny thing like that. It may have been a condition for a long time, but not receive a rating more than 0%. Any records of being around Agent Orange and then a lay statement from your brother or sister that you had a terrible cough when you returned could be used as evidence to prove your case.
Get Help with Your Asthma Claim Appeal
Asthma is a common VA disability claim that gets denied. While the VA has a clear diagnostic code for Asthma, it’s hard to get into a C&P exam if you only have an asthma attack every other week. One key is getting help from a certified VA disability lawyer that can look over your case. Many veterans don’t just have asthma, so you might get your VA asthma claim denied while other conditions receive a rating. Making the case for a combined rating is often the best way to go.
Many times, sleep apnea is secondary to asthma for a VA rating. If you suffer from both, make that case with the VA. When it’s hard to breathe during the day because of asthma and hard to sleep at night because of sleep apnea, you deserve separate ratings for asthma and sleep apnea! While the VA has separate rating schedules for asthma and sleep apnea, expressing how the combination of the two affect your daily life can help them understand your troubles.
How Bad Does Your Asthma Have to Be to Get Disability?
You might not think that your asthma is so severe that the VA would grant you benefits. There is a record of at least one veteran that had what they call “dyspnea on exertion.” Dyspnea is feeling short of breath. No matter how much you try to breathe in, you still feel winded. This is the event of an asthma attack and it can vary in how strong it hits. The thing is, “dyspnea on exertion” means that it only happens when you exert yourself. That was enough to get a 10% rating approved for a vet from the Persian Gulf in the 90s. That doesn’t sound like much, but with the VA it’s a start.
Sometimes the main symptoms of asthma are wheezing and coughing. You might still be able to function in daily life, but have problems when you have to talk for extended periods, lift heavy weights, or climb stairs. Since VA disability is intended to meet the difference of things that you can no longer do, all of these symptoms would point to being viable for benefits.
Even nocturnal asthma that is treated with an inhaler counts for your claim. That type doesn’t show up when a person exerts themselves or by weather conditions. Simple fatigue and lying down can affect your windpipe. If your windpipe is damaged or has a buildup of mucus, you just stepped into some real breathing problems.
Appeal Your Case for VA Asthma Disability
Because asthma is treatable and reversible, many veterans get denied benefits. Pay attention to that denial letter! Typically the VA will spell out the exact reasons why you were denied in that letter. From the date of the letter, you have one year to appeal their decision with new evidence.
If you have been denied VA benefits for asthma, call us right away so that we can get started on your case before the appeal period closes. We can still file after that period, but we have to open a whole new case for you. You’ll need new evidence to do the appeal the right way. We’ll help you put together what you already have in the best way for the VA to review, but we’ll also interview you, your doctor, and any family or friends you can connect with us to plead your case.
The attorneys and staff at Woods and Woods are top notch in my opinion! I was treated with respect and dignity as we all dealt with the frustrating process of appeals through the VA compensation claims. Thank you for getting the results I’ve been waiting years for!T.B. From California
We always appeal to the highest level of the VA. We don’t appeal to the Regional Office because the RO can stop a claim that the national board would approve. We don’t want to waste any of your time on your claim. Especially since it often takes years to get a VA benefits appeal fully approved. We can also appeal your effective date in case you deserve more back pay.
VA Rating Schedule for Asthma
When you go to the doctor for a lung condition, they are going to have you take a spirometry test. The spirometry test will require you to take a deep breath and then blow it out as hard and fast as you can. Make sure you don’t try to cheat and blow softly to make it look like your lungs don’t work! Spirometry is not just a number, but it is interpreted by the doctor watching you take the test. Depending on how fast, how much, and the quality of the air that you blow you, you’ll receive a FEV-1/FVC score that corresponds to the following rating schedule.
|FEV-1/FVC Level||VA Disability Rating for Asthma|
|71%-80% of what is expected||10% VA Rating|
|56%-70% of what is expected||30% VA Rating|
|40%-55% or max oxygen consumption of 15-20 ml/kg/min||60% VA Rating|
|Less than 40% or a bunch of other issues listed below||100% VA Rating|
This test is used to diagnose COPD, bronchitis, asthma, and even lung cancer. You’ll get three tries and your results will be averaged out. It may not be part of your overall C&P exam since a specific spirometry tech may need to administer the test.
TDIU Benefits for Asthma
If you are trying to get 100% disability for asthma, you are probably misdiagnosed. For most claims, if your asthma is bad enough to get up to 100% disability, you should probably be rated for emphysema or COPD. The nice part is that once your lung disability is service-connected, they are all rated according to the same scale.
You don’t have to get TDIU from just one disability. Most veterans with TDIU have multiple ratings that combine to qualify for TDIU.
- You must have at least one service-connected disability rated at least at 60%, OR two or more service-connected disabilities at least one disability ratable at 40 percent or more with a combined rating of 70 percent or more.
- You must be unable to maintain substantially gainful employment as a result of service-connected disabilities (marginal employment, such as odd jobs, is not considered substantial gainful employment for VA purposes).
You can get VA disability for one of those conditions but not both. When it comes to the lungs, the VA will only rate you for one condition, but they’ll rate you for whatever is the worst so you get the highest rating.
Yes, you can get a VA rating for both of those. Since sleep apnea isn’t considered a lung condition, you can combine it with your Asthma rating. Remember, VA math is weird, so use a VA Disability Calculator for accuracy.
Yes, you can. Your rating will be reviewed every 5 years unless you are given a permanent rating. Talk to your doctor or your VA disability lawyer if you might be better rated for permanent COPD benefits.
Hay fever is a form of asthma caused by allergens and poor air quality. If your lungs were weakened or you developed an allergy during active duty, you might be entitled to service-connected disability benefits. Just because it only affects you in the fall doesn’t matter. Talk to a good lawyer about your claim.