1 out of 3 veterans develop some form of arthritis, like Gout. Call us to see if you can get VA disability for Gout.
One out of every five Americans suffers from arthritis. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States, with the majority of those affected being working adults. Veterans are disproportionately impacted as well, with one in every three vets developing an arthritic condition, such as gout, at some point in their lives.
Gout is a painful disease that can be crippling. More than half of veterans who develop gout say it prevents them from doing at least some of their daily activities. While the term arthritis refers to joint inflammation, it describes a wide range of rheumatic diseases and conditions that affect joints, surrounding tissues, and other connective tissue. Gout is among the most painful, and one that can often be traced back to military service. Gout is classified as a form of arthritis by the VA, but it will be noted in your records if you have gout. If your gout is connected to your military service, the VA may offer you disability compensation.
In This Article About VA Disability for Gout:
- What Is Gout?
- Some common symptoms of gout include:
- How Is Gout Treated?
- What Risk Factors Are Associated With Gout?
- How Do You Prove Service-Connected Gout to the VA?
- What Happens After I File A Claim For VA Disability Benefits For My Gout?
- What Are The VA Ratings For Gout?
- You’ll Need a Certified VA Disability Lawyer to Fight Your Fight
- FAQs About VA Disability for Gout:
What Is Gout?
Gout is an inflammatory condition caused by uric acid buildup in the joints. Uric acid dissolves in your blood and flows through your kidneys into your urine under normal circumstances. However, your body can produce too much or too little uric acid. Uric acid is needed by the body to break down purines contained in certain types of seafood, meat, and vegetables (cauliflower, steak, and tuna are a few examples). Higher levels of uric acid are also promoted by alcoholic beverages, especially beer, and drinks sweetened with fruit sugar (fructose).
If too much acid builds up in the body, it will not dissolve properly and instead form urate crystals in your joints. While gout is most commonly associated with the big toes and ankles, the acid may build up in any large weight-bearing joints, including toes, wrists, knees, and elbows.
Some common symptoms of gout include:
- Intense joint pain that can occur in any joint (knees, wrists, elbows, fingers, ankles), but typically affects the big toe.
- Swollen, tender, and inflamed joints
- Elevated uric acid levels
- Burning sensations
- Limited range of motion for affected joints
Gout attacks can strike without warning, waking you up in the middle of the night feeling as if your big toe is on fire. Even the weight of a light blanket or bed sheet on the swollen, hot, and tender joint can seem unbearable. Gout flare-ups are marked by a sudden onset and can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks. Gout affects just one joint at a time and a flare-up is usually accompanied by lengthy stretches without symptoms.
It’s worth noting that gout doesn’t necessarily manifest in the form of symptoms. Although asymptomatic gout isn’t painful, it’s crucial to know whether you have too much uric acid in your joints, as this may eventually cause pain or discomfort. You should also know that other related conditions are often mistaken for gout. Pseudogout, for instance, looks and feels very similar to gout, but is a condition that develops because of calcium pyrophosphate dihydrate (CPPD) buildup as opposed to the buildup of uric acid crystals.
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 Is Gout Treated?
Most people with gout can manage their symptoms with proper care. The most popular treatments are high doses of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and corticosteroid injections into the affected joint(s). Patients typically feel better within a few hours of receiving care, and the attack subsides within a few days. If NSAIDs fail to control symptoms, colchicine can be used, but there is a higher risk of side effects.
According to research, patients who participate in their own treatment experience less discomfort, fewer medical visits, and a higher quality of life. While self-management skills are required to successfully cope with any arthritis pain and disability, patients with gout need to learn about their illness and participate in their own treatment. Working cooperatively with health care professionals gives an individual a sense of control and participation in decision-making.
To relieve tension on specific joints, assistive devices may be used. Braces or canes, for example, may help reduce stress on the knees. Jar grippers and other devices may help relieve tension in the small joints of the hands.
It is also important to note that, despite the pain and difficulties that gout brings, 95 percent of gout patients believe there are things they can do to improve their symptoms (Arthritis Foundation 2016 Nielsen Consumer Needs Survey). Gout symptoms may improve by implementing certain lifestyle choices including getting enough rest and sleep, exercising frequently, reducing stress, limiting alcohol consumption, and adding certain herbs and supplements to your diet. Turmeric, for example, may help to minimize inflammation, and bromelain, which is found in pineapple stems, may help prevent gout.
Here one of our VA disability lawyers talks about sleep apnea VA disability ratings.
What Risk Factors Are Associated With Gout?
Your body produces more uric acid when you’re overweight, and your kidneys have a more challenging time removing it. Obesity can be service-connected by an injury, depression, or other medical condition. This would cause gout to be a secondary condition, but that still counts for the VA.
Consuming a diet high in red meat and shellfish, as well as drinks sweetened with fruit sugar (fructose), raises uric acid levels, putting you at risk for gout. Gout is also exacerbated by alcohol consumption, especially beer.
History Of Gout In The Family
You’re more likely to experience gout if other members of your family have also had it. This could be linked to genetics or an inherited lifestyle. When proving a service connection, you only have to prove that your condition was as least as likely as not caused by your service. That means if there is a 50/50 chance that you got it from the service, you should win your case.
A number of diseases and conditions cause gout. Untreated high blood pressure and chronic illnesses like kidney disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, kidney disease, and obesity are among them. If you can prove service connection, you might get VA compensation for gout secondary to hypertension. Vietnam veterans are likely to get a VA rating for high blood pressure because of Agent Orange presumptive conditions.
One of our VA disability lawyers goes over the Agent Orange Presumptive Conditions list in this video:
Some Medications Trigger Gout
Low-dose aspirin and certain hypertension drugs, such as angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, beta-blockers, and thiazide diuretics, can raise uric acid levels. Anti-rejection medications prescribed for people who have had an organ transplant can also cause problems.
Surgery Or Trauma Can Cause Gout
A gout attack may be triggered by recent surgery or trauma. Being vaccinated can also cause gout flare-ups in some people.
Gender and Age Have an Affect on Gout
Gout is more common in men than in women, owing to women’s lower uric acid levels. Women’s uric acid levels, on the other hand, approach those of men during menopause. Men are often more likely than women to experience gout symptoms earlier in life, usually between the ages of 30 and 50, while women typically develop symptoms after menopause.
How Do You Prove Service-Connected Gout to the VA?
Many people inaccurately believe that gout is solely due to poor diet, but the causes of gout are much more complex. Medical research has proven that gout can also be caused by trauma.
Understanding how disability benefits work is crucial if you want to show that your gout was triggered by something that happened when you were serving in the military. For example, if you experienced a traumatic incident while serving, your gout attacks might have a direct link, something you should know if you’re completing a disability claim.
Because there are so many other risk factors that can contribute to gout, it is not always easy to make a connection to military service. Discussing the details with your doctor is imperative. They will provide you with the best sense of any potential link between your gout and your service.
You can call us before you talk to your doctor, if you want, at (866)232-5777. We can help you figure out if your conditions are connected.
The VA understands that service members can suffer from multiple conditions as a result of a service-connected disability. These claims are typically easier to prove in the case of gout, as gout can be caused by a variety of factors. Certain types of hypertension medications, for example, can cause uric acid to accumulate. You would be able to file for a secondary service link for gout, for instance, if you had a direct service connection for high blood pressure.
Developing obesity as a result of depression brought on by long-term military stress is another example of how you may be able to connect gout to your military service. Depression would be the primary service link in this situation, with obesity and gout as secondary links. If you’re applying for medical insurance through either the Veterans Administration or Social Security Administration, you will need to demonstrate how your gout impacts your ability to function in your everyday routine.
Not all service connections need to have occurred when you were officially on active duty. For example, if you were stationed overseas but officially off duty when a connecting incident occurred, you can still apply for compensation. Also, if you had gout before entering the military, particularly asymptomatic gout, you can still apply for disability compensation if you can prove that your condition worsened while serving. For example, if you had a family history of gout but later found that your gout attacks became more severe after significant lifestyle changes or a traumatic experience while serving in the military.
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What Happens After I File A Claim For VA Disability Benefits For My Gout?
A recent diagnosis by your doctor, a summary of the incidents that triggered both the primary and secondary connections, and a confirmation letter from the doctor stating that the primary condition caused the secondary condition are all required to file a claim for chronic gout. The VA will usually recommend that you arrange a Compensation & Pension (C&P) exam with a VA doctor after you’ve sent your paperwork to the VA Regional Office. The VA doctor will not treat your gout, but they will review your medical history as well as your joints to ascertain the seriousness of the disease. They will also inquire about the relationship between the affected joint and your time in the military.
After the VA doctor has recorded their findings on your condition, they will forward their opinion to the regional office, who will make a decision. If your claim is rejected, we’ll use the Appeals Modernization Act to file an appeal (AMA). The AMA makes it possible for veterans to appeal cases based on a desire to gather and submit additional evidence, request a different person from the regional office to review the case, or request someone with greater authority at the regional office to review the case.
VA disability claim appeals are common, you should be prepared to offer additional documentation, such as X-rays and blood tests, to confirm the severity of your condition. You may not necessarily be asked to provide further information if someone else reviews your case and determines the claim is warranted.
What Are The VA Ratings For Gout?
As a form of arthritis, gout is classified under 38 CFR § 4.71a using the VA diagnostic code 5002 for the Musculoskeletal System. The condition is graded by the VA based on the severity of your pain and whether your debilitating conditions prohibit you from working. Those who are completely disabled by the condition can receive a rating of 100%, which entitles them to full benefits.
Ratings are given as follows:
20 percent – one or two flare-ups per year with a well-established diagnosis.
40 percent – symptom combinations productive of definite impairment of health objectively supported by examination findings or incapacitating exacerbations occurring three or more times a year.
60 percent – less than criteria for 100 percent but with weight loss and anemia productive of severe impairment or healthy or severely incapacitating exacerbations occurring 4 or more times a year or a lesser number over prolonged periods of time.
100 percent – with constitutional manifestations associated with active joint involvement, totally incapacitating.
To help those who cannot work due to their service-connected conditions, some veterans with gout may also qualify for what is known as Total Disability Based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU). This disability level provides a 100 percent VA disability rating, even if their other combined disability ratings do not total 100. Any veteran whose gout contributes to their inability to work should apply for TDIU. To do so, you will need to complete and submit VA Form 21-8940, Veteran’s Application for Increased Compensation Based on Unemployability.
The VA doesn’t usually give 100% TDIU for just a single disability. They typically add up disabilities and veterans meet the criteria like this:
1. You have at least 1 service-connected disability rated at 60% or more disabling, or 2 or more service-connected disabilities—with at least 1 rated at 40% or more disabling and a combined rating of 70% or more—andTaken from https://www.va.gov/disability/eligibility/special-claims/unemployability/
2. You can’t hold down a steady job that supports you financially (known as substantially gainful employment) because of your service-connected disability. Odd jobs (marginal employment), don’t count.
Here is a video of one of our Veterans Disability Lawyers teaching you how to use our VA Disability Combined Ratings Calculator.
You’ll Need a Certified VA Disability Lawyer to Fight Your Fight
All veterans are entitled to disability benefits if they suffer an injury or develop
a disability as a result of their service in the military. Arthritis is one of the most
common diseases that affect both Veterans and civilians, and gout is an
arthritic condition that can be very painful and debilitating. If the cause of your
gout can be traced back to your military service, you are eligible for VA
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 better serve disabled veterans 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: (866) 232-5777
FAQs About VA Disability for Gout:
You’ll have to have a diagnosis, details of what you experienced in the service, and a medical nexus linking the two. It might be easier to prove other injuries as service-connected and then show that your gout was caused by that condition. This is a secondary service-connection, and pays out as much as a primary service condition.
Yes, it is considered a VA disability in the same category as arthritis. If it affects your ability to work and you can prove that Agent Orange or some other service-connected event caused it, you quality for disability. Talk to our VA disability team if you can’t work and we’ll see how fast we can help you.