Diabetes mellitus is eligible for VA benefits if your military service caused or exacerbated the condition. The VA has disability ratings for type 1 and type 2 diabetes based on the severity of symptoms.
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In this article about VA ratings for diabetes
Whether you went into the service with diabetes or developed it afterward, the VA provides benefits for diabetes mellitus that’s service connected. The VA disability rating for diabetes type 1 is based on the condition forming or worsening during your military service or within a year after. The VA disability rating for diabetes type 2 can be presumptive if you served in specific areas at certain times This post explains more.
What is diabetes mellitus?
Diabetes mellitus, commonly called “diabetes,” is when a person has too much sugar in their blood. Glucose comes from food and the liver to give cells energy. But too much glucose can cause significant health concerns that develop gradually and can be life-threatening.
There are two types of diabetes that varying factors cause. They affect your body differently, although the result of too much glucose in the blood is the same.
Two types of diabetes
- Type 1. Type 1 diabetes is when your pancreas doesn’t make insulin, which helps your body process and store glucose for your cells to use. Type 1 diabetes typically appears early in life, but it can develop in adults.
- Type 2. Type 2 is when your pancreas doesn’t make as much insulin as it used to, and your body becomes insulin resistant. Type 2 diabetes results from lifestyle choices and tends to develop gradually.
Symptoms of both types of diabetes include:
- Excessive thirst
- Frequent urination
- Feeling weak and tired
- Unexplained mood changes
- Blurry vision
- Sores don’t heal quickly
- Frequent infections
There’s no cure for diabetes. Doctors treat it through a special diet, medication, and insulin injections.
Veterans can receive VA benefits for either type of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes can be service connected if the condition was caused or aggravated by military service. These factors tend to be associated with developing the condition during service or within a year following. Type 2 diabetes is presumptive if you were exposed to certain pesticides during military service.
VA disability rating for diabetes
The VA rates diabetes with diagnostic code 7913 in the Schedule of Ratings. The VA rates diabetes at 10%, 20%, 40%, 60%, or 100%. The rating is based on what you must do to manage the condition because of the level of symptoms.
|Monthly payment (veteran only)|
|Requiring more than one daily injection of insulin, restricted diet, and regulation of activities (avoidance of strenuous occupational and recreational activities) with episodes of ketoacidosis or hypoglycemic reactions requiring at least three hospitalizations per year or weekly visits to a diabetic care provider, plus either progressive loss of weight and strength or complications that would be compensable if separately evaluated||100%||$3,737.85|
|Requiring one or more daily injection of insulin, restricted diet, and regulation of activities with episodes of ketoacidosis or hypoglycemic reactions requiring one or two hospitalizations per year or twice a month visits to a diabetic care provider, plus complications that would not be compensable if separately evaluated||60%||$1,3161.88|
|Requiring one or more daily injection of insulin, restricted diet, and regulation of activities||40%||$755.28|
|Requiring one or more daily injection of insulin and restricted diet, or; oral hypoglycemic agent and restricted diet||20%||$338.49|
|Manageable by restricted diet only||10%||$171.23|
Agent Orange and diabetes
Veterans may develop type 2 diabetes resulting from Agent Orange exposure. Agent Orange was a defoliant — a chemical used to remove leaves from trees and plants — used by the military in many locations, including on military bases, beginning in the ‘60s. The military widely used Agent Orange in the Vietnam and Korean wars. Agent Orange was also stored on U.S. soil. Soldiers were also exposed to the chemical in Navy ships and on Air Force planes.
Because of the connection between Agent Orange exposure and diabetes, there is a presumptive service connection for veterans who served during certain times, in specific locations. This connection means that veterans who meet these criteria don’t need to show any additional evidence to establish a service connection to diabetes.
Veterans who developed diabetes after exposure to chemicals also may be eligible for earlier effective dates as a result of the Nehmer stipulation, which provided a clearer picture of Agent Orange exposure.
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Common conditions secondary to diabetes mellitus
Diabetes can cause various other conditions that you may receive secondary service connections for.
Diabetes can cause:
- Heart disease
- Nerve damage that can cause loss of blood flow to the limbs (diabetic neuropathy)
- Kidney failure
- Vision issues and blindness (diabetic retinopathy)
- Skin infections
- Hearing impairment
- Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease
If you have any of these conditions along with diabetes, they may qualify as a secondary service connection. Likewise, if you have another service-connected condition that caused you to develop diabetes, like PTSD, you may qualify for a secondary service connection for your diabetes.
Individual unemployability and diabetes
Diabetes mellitus has the potential to interfere with your ability to work. If that’s the case, you could qualify for total disability based on individual unemployability (TDIU) benefits.
To qualify for TDIU, you must have a service-connected disability rated at least 60% or more or have one disability rated at 40% or more with a combined rating of 70% or more. Therefore, if you are unable to work, a diabetes rating alone or a diabetes rating with a secondary condition that meets the TDIU rating criteria could qualify you.
How our VA disability lawyers can help
Woods and Woods has helped thousands of veterans get the VA benefits they deserve. Call us for a free case evaluation to find out how we can help. If we take your case, you only pay if you win, and we never touch your future monthly checks.
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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
A medical professional uses a blood test and your symptoms to diagnose you with diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes can be service connected if the condition was caused or aggravated by military service. Type 2 diabetes is presumptive if you were exposed to certain pesticides or herbicides during military service.