Painful or difficulty going pee can be a symptom of growing old, or it can be an enlarged prostate caused by your time in the service.
Enlarged prostate or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is a genitourinary condition that makes it hard to urinate. It can increase your urgency to urinate and also prevent you from urinating even when the urge is present. Although many male veterans suffer from this condition, it is difficult for them to validate their eligibility for a disability rating.
Generally, the VA presents many hurdles that can block a veteran’s access to benefits for any condition. However, seeking VA BPH benefits is particularly difficult because this condition is extremely common in older men and because it is difficult to show a service connection between your current disability and an injury or disease suffered during military service.
However, securing compensation is still possible. The VA assigns disability ratings from 0% to 60% for an enlarged prostate, depending on the severity of this disorder. Therefore, if a veteran can successfully prove their entitlement to these ratings and also prove a military service connection exists, they can access these benefits.
Unsure where to start? This article is a great first step. We also recommend consulting with an VA disability lawyer for guidance throughout this complicated process.
What We Cover in this Article on Enlarged Prostate VA Disability
- What is Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia?
- What Causes an Enlarged Prostate?
- Effects of an Enlarged Prostate
- How Does the VA Compensate for an Enlarged Prostate?
- What is the Disability Rating for Voiding Dysfunction?
- What is the Disability Rating for Urinary Tract Infection?
- Service Connections
- Conditions Similar to BPH
- Let Us Help You File a Claim for VA Disability Benefits
What is Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia?
Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is a condition that enlarges your prostate, causing issues with urination. As the prostate enlarges, it goes inward, placing pressure on your urethra and causing symptoms such as:
- The increased frequent urge to urinate.
- Weakened urination.
- Urinary hesitancy and intermittency.
- Frequent urination at night.
- The feeling that your bladder is not empty after passing urine.
These symptoms occur because the pressure on your urethra causes your bladder to work harder to release urine. This weakens your bladder muscles over time causing these symptoms.
What Causes an Enlarged Prostate?
Specific causes are unclear. This disorder has been attributed to natural hormone shifts in the body as you age, but doctors have not been able to pinpoint the root cause. However, this condition is extremely common. In fact, about 50% of all men will have an enlarged prostate by the time they turn 60. This likelihood increases by the time they get to 85 when about 90% of all men will experience BPH.
Effects of an Enlarged Prostate
While some men who experience BPH have no symptoms or very few symptoms at all. If you are symptomatic, an enlarged prostate can deeply affect your quality of life. At a minimum, it can cause you to frequently use the restroom which can interrupt the flow of your day and interrupt your sleep at night. However, at its worst, it could infect your bladder causing it to be damaged, it could cause you to pass blood in your urine and damage your kidneys, or it could block your ability to pass urine at all.
Veterans who have an enlarged prostate usually experience this condition alongside other disorders they develop either during or after their military service. These combined experiences can be crippling. Therefore, they can obtain VA disability benefits to support them.
How Does the VA Compensate for an Enlarged Prostate?
The VA compensates veterans for an enlarged prostate if they can prove their eligibility for a disability rating and show that there is either a primary or secondary service connection between their BPH and military service. If a veteran can successfully prove these factors, then the VA will send the veteran a monthly, tax-free check in an amount based on the disability rating they approve.
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VA Disability Rating for Enlarged Prostate
A disability rating is a percentage that the VA uses to score the severity of a condition and determine the amount of compensation that a veteran should receive for living with the effects of this disability.
The VA determines which rating system they will use based on the diagnostic code assigned to that disability. VA diagnostic code 7527 is the code assigned to prostate gland injuries, infections, etc. This code provides that these types of injuries should be rated under the voiding dysfunction or urinary tract infection (UTI) rating system, based on whichever symptoms are predominant.
BPH is categorized under diagnostic code 7527. Therefore, the VA disability rating applied to this condition would be either under the voiding dysfunction or UTI rating system.
What is the Disability Rating for Voiding Dysfunction?
Voiding dysfunction is when your pelvic floor muscles are overactive, causing your bladder and urethra to be uncoordinated in releasing urine. This rating system is further broken into subcategories based on whether the patient is experiencing urine leakage, obstructed voiding, or urinary frequency.
- Urine Leakage is rated between 20% to 60%. An individual would receive a rating based on whether they need to wear absorbent materials and change them. Their rating would increase based on how frequently they need to change this material and increase even higher if they need to use an appliance to help with leakage.
- Obstructed Voiding is rated between 0% to 30%. This condition which is marked by intermittent or slowed urination can cause stricture disease which causes the urethra walls to narrow. An individual would receive a 0% rating even if they have symptoms if they only need to do dilatation to expand their urethra walls once or twice a year. However, they could receive a 10% rating if they need to complete dilatation every 2 to 3 months, or a 30% rating if they need to use a catheter.
- Urinary Frequency is rated between 10% to 40%. The VA rating for urinary frequency increases based on how frequently you need to urinate in the daytime or need to wake up to urinate at night.
What is the Disability Rating for Urinary Tract Infection?
A UTI is an infection that can affect any part of your urinary system. This occurs when your urine is contaminated by bacteria that enter your bladder. This condition can lead to pain in your pelvic area and the frequent urge to urinate, etc.
The disability rating for a UTI is:
- 10% if you need long term drug therapy, if you are hospitalized once or twice per year and/or receive occasional intensive management of your symptoms.
- 30% if you have recurrent infections leading to more than two hospital visits yearly and/or receive constant intensive management of your symptoms.
The VA will decide which rating system is predominant and should apply to the veteran’s condition based on the medical evidence the veteran submits with their claim or a VA examination.
In one public VA disability case, a veteran had a medical history of having one UTI, but recurring complaints of symptoms under the voiding dysfunction system. The VA ranked voiding dysfunction as the veteran’s predominant condition and calculated their disability rating based on that system.
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.
When a veteran files a disability claim for an enlarged prostate, he must establish that a service connection exists between his disability and an injury or disease he suffered during military service. This connection can either be a primary service connection or a secondary service connection.
What is a Primary Service Connection?
A veteran can establish primary service connection if they can show that their current condition is either a direct result of an injury or disease they suffered during military service. Even if a veteran develops a disorder after their service is completed, they can still prove that a primary service connection exists if their medical evidence shows that it was sustained during service.
What is a Secondary Service Connection?
A veteran can also claim disability benefits for a secondary service-connected condition. A veteran can establish secondary service connection by proving that their current disorder is directly related, proximately related, or aggravated by an established primary service-connected condition.
How to Establish a Service Connection for an Enlarged Prostate
Establishing a service connection for an enlarged prostate is extremely difficult because the root cause of this condition is unclear, making it difficult to directly or proximately link this disability to an injury or disease in service.
For example, the VA denied a disability claim where a veteran tried to prove a secondary service connection for their BPH, arguing that this disability is a result of his primary service-connected diabetes. The VA found that there is no medical correlation between BPH and diabetes and denied the claim.
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.
Therefore, a veteran needs to submit strong medical evidence with their disability claim to prove that their BPH is either a direct result or secondary result of their military service.
A veteran can submit:
- Medical records showing that they have been diagnosed with BPH.
- Service treatment records (STR) showing that they were treated for BPH or a prostate-related injury during service.
- Lay evidence that confirms the veteran developed BPH or a prostate-related injury in service. This can include statements from your co-workers, spouses, family members, etc.
- Doctor reports validating that a connection exists between their enlarged prostate and an injury or disease they suffered during service.
Strong evidence substantiating a service connection improves your chances of receiving disability.
Conditions Similar to BPH
There are other conditions that are similar to BPH and can often be confused for this condition. Before applying for disability benefits for an enlarged prostate, veterans should be sure to obtain a diagnosis for this condition. You want to know what diagnosis you are working with before establishing a service connection.
Conditions such as prostatitis and prostate cancer are very similar to BPH and even rated under the same disability rating system.
What is Prostatitis?
Prostatitis is similar to BPH because it also enlarges the prostate. However, prostatitis can be caused by a bacterial infection or a nonbacterial trigger such as an injury, stress, neurological damage, or a UTI.
The prostatitis VA disability rating is also scored under the voiding dysfunction or UTI system depending on which symptoms are most severe. Therefore, a veteran could receive a rating between 0% to 60% for their symptoms.
What is Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer is a malignant enlargement of the prostate. Many people often assume that an enlarged prostate is due to prostate cancer. However, this is not always accurate.
BPH is a benign enlargement of the prostate. Therefore, this growth is rarely life-threatening, cannot spread throughout the body, and can be removed but rarely grows back. Prostate cancer can spread throughout the body, can be life-threatening, and although it can be removed, it may grow back.
A veteran needs to obtain a proper diagnosis for their prostate enlargement as this can determine how the VA will assess their service connection.
If a veteran is exposed to Agent Orange during military service, it would be easier to establish a service connection between this exposure and prostate cancer. However, it is much more difficult to establish a service connection for BPH to Agent Orange as no presumptive service connection exists for this claim (38 CFR § 3.309).
Therefore, ensure you are submitting an accurate disability claim to the VA.
Let Us Help You File a Claim for VA Disability Benefits
Filing a claim requires you to gather adequate evidence, submit your application online, in-person, or by mail with the VA, and then wait to receive a disability rating decision.
Our team can help you by:
- Gathering the most persuasive evidence needed to prove your BPH diagnosis and/or establish a service connection.
- Calculating your prospective disability rating.
- Advocating on your behalf on appeal.
- Submitting all needed documentation to the VA in a timely manner
If you need help to prove your eligibility for disability benefits, our experienced team can help you through this process free of charge. We only charge a fee after we win your disability claim.
Yes, this is one of the symptoms of prostate cancer or enlarged prostate (BPH). If you can prove service-connection or secondary service-connection, the VA can award you a rating for your condition.
If you can prove that you qualify for Agent Orange presumptives, then definitely prostate cancer. If you have to prove service-connection another way, then it depends on the extent of your other symptoms.