A deviated septum can entitle you to VA disability benefits.
This extremely common condition causes the nasal septum to be crooked and is present in about 80% of the U.S. population. This disability also commonly occurs in veterans who have suffered trauma to their faces during military service. However, obtaining VA benefits for this disorder is difficult.
The VA Schedule for Rating Disabilities does provide a rating for this disorder, but the rating is very low, limiting the compensation for this disability. Furthermore, proving your eligibility for these benefits is an arduous task because you would need to prove the disorder began during service and that you weren’t born with the condition.
In this article about VA ratings for a deviated septum:
- What is a Deviated Septum?
- What is the VA Disability Rating for a Deviated Septum?
- How to Get Increased Compensation for a Deviated Septum?
- How to Receive a Combined Rating and Get Increased Compensation
- Is the VA Rating for Deviated Septum Permanent?
- Similar Conditions
- We Can Help You
Receiving fruitful compensation for this disorder would require you to combine this condition with another disability and prove that both disabilities are service-connected. If successful, you can receive combined benefits for both conditions. Brown.
So how exactly is this done?
Below is a walkthrough of the process. However, if you want to improve your chances of collecting VA disability compensation for your deviated septum, we recommend that you seek counsel from an expert VA disability lawyer.
What is a Deviated Septum?
A deviated septum is a disorder that dislocates your nasal septum. Your nasal septum is the thin lining between your left and right nostril. When your septum shifts, it moves toward your left or right nasal cavity and reduces air passage through this nostril, leading to difficulty breathing and many other issues.
What Causes a Deviated Septum?
A deviated septum can be caused by:
- Prenatal Development: During pregnancy, a baby can suffer nasal injury from “compressional and rotational forces” within the womb. They can also suffer trauma to their nose during childbirth. As a result, many infants are born with a deviated septum. This condition is present in about 20% of newborns.
- Nasal Injury: You can also develop this condition if you suffer a blow to your face that dislocates your nasal septum. Many veterans develop a deviated septum after suffering a traumatic hit to their face during military service.
What are the Worst Symptoms of a Deviated Septum?
If you have a deviated septum, you may have no symptoms whatsoever. However, you can only receive a disability rating if you experience symptoms of this condition. Below are some signs to look out for to assess whether you have this condition.
- Blocked Nasal Cavity: a deviated septum can block the airways of your nasal cavity. If you experience difficulty breathing, especially when you’re experiencing allergies or a cold, you may have a blocked nasal cavity caused by a deviated septum.
- Pressure and Congestion: If you experience facial pressure or nasal congestion even without a cold or sinus issues, this discomfort may be caused by a deviated septum.
- Snoring: If you experience snoring or loud breathing when you sleep, you might have an obstructed nasal cavity, and this may also be a sign of a deviated septum.
- Recurring Nosebleeds: Obstructed breathing can cause you to apply more effort in drawing deeper breaths to normalize your breathing. As a result, the skin around your nostrils may dry and crack, leading to recurring nosebleeds. If you suffer frequent nosebleeds, this may be a symptom of a deviated septum.
If you experience any of these symptoms, then you may be eligible for disability benefits. However, you must first prove that you are entitled to a VA disability rating.
The Nexus Letter is like the missing link to a successful VA disability compensation claim. In this video, one of our veteran’s disability lawyers explains the importance of the Nexus Letter.
What is the VA Disability Rating for a Deviated Septum?
A VA disability rating is a figure that the VA issues to a disabled veteran based on the severity of their condition. The VA outlines their various ratings within their Disability Schedule, and a veteran would then need to prove that they are entitled to a compensable rating before receiving the VA’s benefit approval.
The VA rates a deviated septum within their schedule of ratings for the respiratory system. Under this schedule, a deviated septum rates under diagnostic code 6502.
Unfortunately, there is only one rating available for a deviated septum. A disabled veteran can receive a 10% rating if their deviated septum is traumatic, which means:
- at least 50% of their nasal cavity blocked on both sides; or
- 100% of their nasal cavity obstructed on one side.
If the VA approves you for a 10% disability rating, this means that you will receive a monthly tax-free payment to compensate you for your disorder. However, a 10% rating severely limits your compensation amount.
For example, the VA’s current compensation schedule only allocates a monthly payment of $165.92 for a 10% disability rating. Therefore, if your disability obstructs your potential to earn an income, it is unlikely that the payment for a 10% rating would supplement your monthly expenses.
Therefore, if you are looking to receive higher compensation for your deviated septum, you must prove that this condition has triggered a secondary service-connected disorder and that you are eligible to receive combined benefits for both disabilities.
How to Get Increased Compensation for a Deviated Septum?
A veteran can seek increased compensation benefits for their deviated septum if they can prove that:
- Their condition is service-connected.
- Their condition has triggered a secondary service-connected disability.
- They are eligible for a combined disability rating.
A service connection is either a direct or secondary nexus between a veteran’s disability and their military service. A direct service connection means that the disability was directly caused by or worsened during military service. Whereas a secondary service connection means a direct service-connected condition triggered the disability.
How to Prove a Direct Service Connection?
A traumatic deviated septum can be a direct service-connected condition. A veteran can only receive disability benefits if they prove that they suffered an injury during military service that caused this condition. For example, the veteran received a blow to the face during combat that dislocated their nasal septum.
However, the veteran’s condition would need to be traumatic before they can receive compensation, according to the VA’s disability rating system. Therefore, the veteran would need to show either 50% or 100% nasal passage obstruction before the VA can assign a 10% disability rating.
If you were born with a deviated septum, you can only prove that your time in the service made your problem worse. That still qualifies for VA disability. A problem made worse or discovered as a problem while you are enlisted also qualifies for a VA rating.
You can prove that your deviated septum is direct service-connected by providing the below evidence to the VA.
- Claims File (C-File): A C-File is record that the VA keeps in a database and utilizes to track your claims. This database includes all of your treatment records from military service. Therefore, if you suffered an injury that caused your deviated septum, this should be documented within these records. Before filing a disability claim, request your C-File from the VA and be sure to include the documentation of this condition with your application.
- Doctor Reports: You can provide a report from your doctor that confirms that you have a deviated septum caused by a blow to the face during your military service.
- Buddy Statements: A buddy statement is a testimonial from a fellow service-member who served with you in the military. If this service-member witnessed the injury or was made aware of the injury during service, they can provide a statement validating that the injury happened. Veterans have even proved their case when the buddy had an old picture that revealed the applicant’s condition.
Keep in mind that you cannot receive disability benefits for a deviated septum if you were born with this condition. Therefore, you must prove that this injury directly connects to your service. Providing strong evidence is an essential step towards receiving VA approval.
Here one of our VA disability lawyers goes over the questions Woods and Woods, The Veteran’s Firm, is often asked about veterans’ disability claims and appeals.
How to Prove a Secondary Service Connection?
A veteran can only prove a secondary service-connected disability by first establishing that they have a direct service-connected condition and that they have developed a secondary condition as a result of it.
For example, you may be able to claim disability for sinusitis as a secondary service-connected condition if you establish that you have a deviated septum as a direct service-connected condition, and you later develop sinusitis.
Proving a secondary service connection will require you to submit strong evidence to the VA. Consider submitting:
- Medical Records: Submit medical records from your doctor that confirms you have a deviated septum and that you now have a secondary condition (i.e. sinusitis, sleep apnea, etc.) as a result of your deviated septum.
- Doctor Reports: Submit a report from an expert doctor that shows exactly how your secondary condition connects to your direct service deviated septum.
How to Receive a Combined Rating and Get Increased Compensation
If you have both a direct and secondary service-connected disability, you may be eligible for a combined disability rating. If you successfully establish a service connection, the VA will then assign a disability rating to your direct service and secondary connected condition. The VA will then reference their Combined Rating Table to issue a higher combined rating, which will then lead to increased compensation.
For example, if you receive a 10% rating for your deviated septum and a 50% rating for your secondary connected sinusitis, your combined rating would be 60% based on the VA’s combined rating table. Therefore, you would now be able to receive increased compensation from the VA based on a 60% rating.
If you believe that you have a secondary condition that has been triggered by your deviated septum, speak with a VA disability expert who can help you to prove your service connection, calculate your disability rating, and collect compensation from the VA.
Talk to Us About Your Claim:
Is the VA Rating for Deviated Septum Permanent?
Since you can have surgery for a deviated septum, it may not be considered a permanent disability. At the same time, if your symptoms aren’t bad enough, your doctor will probably not seek surgery to fix your condition.
You can ask your doctor if the VA will cover your surgery for your deviated septum. It will depend on how much trouble it causes you and your other health conditions. You may have a better chance of your septum being fixed if you are having complete nose or sinus surgery, though.
Since your septum won’t naturally move around, any periodic future examinations to increase or reduce your VA rating will center around your symptoms. If your breathing is worse or your sinus problems increase, make notes of that before you go in for your exam. These are all factors that won’t increase your rating (it’s capped at 10%, right?) but they may add on other combined disability ratings.
If you have a deviated septum, two similar conditions to keep in mind are: chronic sinusitis and sleep apnea. These conditions are often related to a deviated septum, and if you have either of them, you may be eligible for a combined disability rating.
Chronic sinusitis is a condition that causes your sinus cavity to swell or become inflamed due to the obstruction of your nasal passage over three months.
Some symptoms of this condition are:
- Difficulty breathing
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Pain around your sinus cavity
The VA disability ratings for chronic sinusitis are as follows:
- 0% rating: this non-compensable rating applies if your condition can only be detected by X-ray.
- 10% rating: this rating applies if you have up to two incapacitating or up to six non-incapacitating episodes of sinusitis per year.
- 30% rating: this rating applies if you have three or more incapacitating or more than six non-incapacitating episodes of sinusitis per year.
- 50% rating: this rating applies if you have had radical surgery with chronic osteomyelitis or close to continuous sinusitis.
If you have a deviated septum, this condition can lead to you developing chronic sinusitis. If you believe you have any sinusitis symptoms, be sure to verify this with your doctor so that you can apply for combined disability benefits for deviated septum and secondary chronic sinusitis.
Sleep apnea is a dangerous condition that causes your breathing to start and stop intermittently during sleep.
The VA disability ratings for sleep apnea are as follows:
- 0% rating: this non-compensable rating applies if your condition is asymptomatic.
- 30% rating: this rating applies if you consistently have the urge to sleep during the daytime.
- 50% rating: this rating applies if you need to use a breathing device such as a CPAP machine to mitigate your symptoms.
- 100% rating: this rating applies if you have chronic respiratory failure or require a tracheostomy.
If you have a deviated septum and you also believe that you have sleep apnea, it may be difficult to prove that your sleep apnea is a secondary condition to your deviated septum. However, you can still combine your disability rating for your deviated septum and sleep apnea to receive higher VA compensation.
We Can Help You
Woods and Woods is a family-owned law firm dedicated to Veterans’ rights since 1985. We have a large staff of expert legal professionals who would love to help you get disability benefits for your deviated septum.
We can help you:
- Determine your eligibility for a VA disability rating
- Assess whether you are eligible for a combined rating.
- Apply for your VA benefits.
At Woods and Woods, the Veteran’s Firm, we’ve helped thousands of veterans with their VA disability applications and appeals. We’ve been adding staff and lawyers during the Covid pandemic to serve disabled veterans better in difficult times.
Call us today to discuss your VA disability appeal or your first application. The call is free and we won’t charge you a single fee until we win your case. We even pay for the postage for all of the documentation you send to our office. You can look for a VA disability attorney near you or call us and join the thousands of veterans living off of VA disability thanks to Woods and Woods.
Talk to Us About Your Claim:
The VA doesn’t judge the right or wrong of how you got your disability. If it happened while you were on active duty, it’s service-connected. However you got busted up, we’ll list it in detail on your VA application to get the maximun check you have coming to you.
Yes! Most veterans that call us have more service-connected injuries than they realized when they called. You might have more service-connected and secondary conditions than you think. Give us a call and let’s go over your medical record. Even 10% is a start towards SMC and Aid and Attendence funds.