Veterans can get injured while in combat, or years later due to a service-connected illness. Hyperparathyroidism is a condition that can pop up years later due to chemical exposure, physical injury, or kidney failure caused by other disabilities.
Veterans may need a thyroidectomy long after their service also. While it is unrelated to your hyperparathyroidism, an in-service injury or disease can affect your thyroid decades later in the same way.
If you think your glands and hormones are imbalanced due to your time in the military, give us a call and talk to your doctor. Many veterans get VA disability for hyperparathyroidism and other gland problems.
In this article about Hyperparathyroidism and veterans getting their thyroids removed:
- What is Hyperparathyroidism?
- How Hyperparathyroidism Affects Your Daily Life
- Can I Get VA Benefits for Hyperparathyroidism?
- Can I Work with Hyperparathyroidism?
- Symptoms of Hyperparathyroidism
- Causes of Hyperparathyroidism
- VA Disability Rating for Thyroid Removal
- After the Procedure
- How to File a VA Disability Claim
- Related Conditions
- How a VA Attorney Can Help You Get Hyperparathyroidism VA Benefits
What is Hyperparathyroidism?
Hyperparathyroidism is caused when your parathyroid glands create an excess of the parathyroid hormone. It is not to be confused with hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. The parathyroid glands are about the size of a grain of rice and are located behind the thyroid gland lobes at the bottom of your neck. The parathyroid hormone creates parathyroid hormones (PTH). This hormone regulates calcium levels and other minerals in your blood and tissues.
There are two types of hyperparathyroidism: primary and secondary. Primary hyperparathyroidism is when one or more of the parathyroid glands are enlarged and overproduces the hormone. When the hormone overproduces, it causes high levels of calcium in the blood. High levels of calcium can cause many health problems like kidney stones, weak bones, as well as heart and brain issues. Secondary hyperparathyroidism occurs when another disease has caused low levels of calcium in the blood. Increased levels of parathyroid hormone occur gradually, causing secondary hyperparathyroidism.
Veterans seeking VA disability benefits for hyperparathyroidism need to find a way to prove a service connection. This means being able to pinpoint an incident or time in service that caused your current condition. We will later discuss how to prove a service connection to your hyperparathyroidism and/or thyroid removal (thyroidectomy).
How Hyperparathyroidism Affects Your Daily Life
Having high levels of calcium in your blood is rarely normal. One way hyperparathyroidism is diagnosed is by testing for high levels of calcium in your blood. This is because when the parathyroid is overactive, it makes an excess of the parathyroid hormone (PTH), which causes calcium levels to rise. Chances are if you have high blood calcium levels and high PTH levels, you have hyperparathyroidism. Even if you do not have any noticeable symptoms but have been told you have high calcium levels, address the problem as soon as you can. People with hyperparathyroidism are at a higher risk for:
- Heart failure
- Heart attack
- Renal failure
- kidney stones
- Atrial fibrillation
- Bone pain
- Serious bone fractures
- High blood pressure
- Need for hip replacement
- Chronic fatigue
- Memory loss
- MGUS (Agent Orange caused condition that comes before myeloma)
- Hair loss (mostly women)
- Cancers of the kidney, breast, colon, and prostate
- Early death
Can I Get VA Benefits for Hyperparathyroidism?
Yes, you are eligible for VA benefits if you suffer from hyperparathyroidism as long as you can service-connect it. The VA rates hyperparathyroidism under 38 C.F.R. 4.119 Diagnostic Code 7904.
The VA gives a 10 percent rating where continuous medication is required for control. Then a 60 percent rating when there is gastrointestinal weakness and symptoms. A 100 percent rating is warranted when there is generalized decalcification of bones, gastrointestinal symptoms (vomiting, nausea, constipation, weight loss, anorexia, or peptic ulcer), weakness, and kidney stones. This decision also indicates that following treatment or surgery, hyperparathyroidism is evaluated as cardiovascular, renal, digestive, or skeletal residuals or as endocrine dysfunction.
|Rating for Hyperparathyroidism||Symptoms of Your Disability|
|10 percent||When continuous medication is required for control of hyperparathyroidism|
|60 percent||Gastrointestinal weaknesses and symptoms are present|
|100 percent||Generalized decalcification of bones, gastrointestinal symptoms (vomiting, nausea, constipation, weight loss, anorexia, or peptic ulcer), weakness, and kidney stones|
Can I Work with Hyperparathyroidism?
Most people are unable to work due to the nature of the symptoms caused by hyperparathyroidism. Symptoms can become severe if left untreated, so maintaining a full-time job is difficult. If you are a veteran who can no longer work due to hyperparathyroidism, you may be entitled to receiving VA disability benefits.
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.
In this video, on of our VA compensation lawyers explains the difference between a 100% VA Rating and TDIU.
Symptoms of Hyperparathyroidism
Hyperparathyroidism is usually diagnosed before any symptoms appear. Symptoms can either be so mild that they don’t seem to be related to the parathyroid, or they can be severe. It depends on how long the condition goes undetected. The longer it is unknown, the more damage it can do to your organs and tissues. A range of symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain
- Excessive urination
- Kidney stones
- Joint and bone pain
- Depression or forgetfulness
- Fatigue and weakness
- Nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite
- Frequent complaints of illness with no clear cause
Causes of Hyperparathyroidism
If you have problems with your parathyroid or have another condition that affects the gland’s function, that can cause hyperparathyroidism. However, hyperparathyroidism is most commonly caused by a noncancerous growth on the gland or enlargement of two or more of the glands. In rare cases, a cancerous tumor can also cause hyperparathyroidism. All of these cause primary hyperparathyroidism. Secondary hyperparathyroidism can be caused by chronic kidney failure, severe vitamin D deficiency, and severe calcium deficiency.
The average veteran that got disability in 2020 had over 5 different VA-rated conditions, according to the 2020 VA annual report. That means that hyperparathyroidism is probably not going to be your only disability. Diabetes, kidney problems, and even tinnitus need to be considered while you apply for hyperparathyroidism benefits.
Studies have shown that exposure to certain chemicals may cause hyperparathyroidism. The chemical Cadmium has been linked to hyperparathyroidism. If you were exposed to cadmium during your time in the service, you may be able to prove a service connection and receive VA disability benefits.
VA Disability Rating for Thyroid Removal
You are eligible for VA benefits if you can prove your thyroid removal was service-connected. The VA has rated a total thyroidectomy as 60%. A thyroidectomy is when all or part of your thyroid gland is removed. Note that the thyroid gland is different from the parathyroid glands. You have four parathyroid glands and only one thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is located at the base of your neck and is butterfly-shaped. Its main function is to produce hormones that regulate your metabolic rate-controlling muscle and digestive function, heart function, as well as brain development and bone maintenance.
If you get your entire thyroid removed, you can no longer make the thyroid hormone. For the remainder of your life, you will need to take a medicine that contains the synthetic thyroid hormone levothyroxine. Without this replacement, you will develop symptoms of an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism).
Unlike a thyroidectomy, a parathyroidectomy is the removal of one or more of the parathyroid glands. The VA has stated that for six months after a parathyroidectomy, it is evaluated at 100 percent. After those six months, it is evaluated based on the residuals of hyperparathyroidism. This means a residual rating is determined for each symptom you have and an aggregate disability rating is calculated from those residual ratings using VA calculations.
If you get a partial or total parathyroidectomy, there are risks. Side effects of this procedure include bleeding and blot clots, sore throat, voice hoarseness, persistent low calcium blood levels, adhesions and scar tissue requiring further surgery, and injury to the esophagus.
When do you need a thyroidectomy? The most common reasons for this procedure are thyroid cancer, a noncancerous enlargement of the thyroid (called goiter), indeterminate or suspicious thyroid nodules, or overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism).
After the Procedure
After the surgery, you will be moved to a recovery room and may have to have a drain on the incision. Depending on how much of your thyroid is removed, you may be able to go home the day of the procedure or could be required to stay overnight. Some people have side effects after the thyroidectomy such as a weak voice, neck pain, difficulty swallowing, and a temporary sore throat. You should also wait for at least ten to two weeks before doing any strenuous activities. As for the scar, it could take up to a year until it starts to fade.
Temporary 100% VA Rating After Surgery
Some surgery, like a thyroidectomy, qualifies you for 100% VA disability while you recover. See if your upcoming surgery qualifies.
How to File a VA Disability Claim
You can file a VA disability claim either online, by mail, or a legal professional can help you fill it out. Here at Woods and Woods, The Veterans Firm, we will help you file an initial claim at no charge. You pay nothing unless we win your case. Here is a step-by-step guide to filing an initial VA disability claim.
The VA has a special category of service-connected disabilities that result from exposure to contaminants like Agent Orange. If a disability falls within this category and veterans can show where and when they served, a service connection is presumed. You can see a complete list of all Agent Orange presumptive areas here at the VA website.
For those with thyroid and parathyroid disorders, the VA has been slow to add hyperparathyroidism to its presumptive disabilities list. The VA studied adding thyroid conditions to its list of presumed disabilities for Agent Orange for nearly five years without concluding anything.
This does not mean you cannot establish a service connection. It just means you must submit evidence supporting the connection between your disability and your time in service. The disability, in this case, hyperparathyroidism, is not presumed to have a service connection. This is when speaking to a VA disability lawyer would be helpful.
Here is a video explaining how the VA combined ratings table works from one of our Veterans Disability Lawyers.
There are related conditions of hyperparathyroidism that you should be aware of: familial hypocalciuric hypercalcemia (FHH), familial isolated hyperparathyroidism, or parathyroid carcinoma.
Familial Hypocalciuric Hypercalcemia
Familial hypocalciuric hypercalcemia (FHH) is a genetic condition where there is a variation in the calcium-sensing receptor gene. FHH is differentiated from hyperparathyroidism by family history, low urine calcium, and genetic testing in some cases. FHH is similar to hyperparathyroidism because both conditions cause elevated blood calcium levels. It is easily diagnosed as hyperparathyroidism because both conditions can manifest as hypercalcemia. The two conditions differ in the renal processing of calcium. However, there are still many overlaps between these two conditions that it is difficult to differentiate the two.
Familial Isolated Hyperparathyroidism
Familial isolated hyperparathyroidism (FIHP) is a rare genetic disorder caused by the overactivity of the parathyroid gland(s). FIHP is an inherited form of primary hyperparathyroidism. It is easy for doctors to misdiagnose this if there is no genetic testing done. This condition could also be caused by a variation in a gene such as the CASR, CDC73, and MENI genes. It is diagnosed when there are no other related endocrine gland disorders besides primary hyperparathyroidism. Sometimes the cause is unknown and no variation can be found in the listed genes, suggesting that other genes can cause FIHP.
Parathyroid carcinoma is a rare form of cancer that affects the parathyroid glands. However, parathyroid carcinoma is often misdiagnosed preoperatively as primary hyperparathyroidism. The difference being that blood calcium levels are extreme with parathyroid carcinoma; above 3.5 millimoles per liter (mmol/L). Hyperparathyroidism blood calcium levels are around 0.25 to 0.5 above the normal range of 2.2 to 2.7mmol/L. One percent or less of people with hyperparathyroidism have this type of cancer. People suffering from parathyroid carcinoma have a variation in the CDC73 gene. This cancer can occur by itself or can be a part of a larger genetic disorder.
These other conditions are similar to hyperparathyroidism because they all cause high levels of calcium in the blood. However, FHH and familial isolated hyperparathyroidism are usually caused by genetics and family history. While parathyroid carcinoma is rare among people with hyperparathyroidism, it can still happen.
You’ll want to work with a doctor that is familiar with VA disabilities and VA nexus letters if you have any of these conditions. Since these are not typical service-connected disabilities, you won’t have a very good chance of getting a VA Rating for hyperparathyroidism if you are diagnosed in this way. Let us help you review your C-File and medical records to find the best nexus for your service-connected disability.
A behind-the-scenes look at who works for you at Woods and Woods, The Veteran’s Firm.
How a VA Attorney Can Help You Get Hyperparathyroidism VA Benefits
Filing a VA disability claim for hyperparathyroidism may require more evidence than in a typical case. For physical injuries and disabilities, it would be enough to submit medical records and service records proving the cause of your injury. It is a little different for hyperparathyroidism.
To service-connect your hyperparathyroidism and/or thyroidectomy, you most likely need to submit evidence with your disability claim. If you believe your hyperparathyroidism was caused by exposure to the chemical Cadmium, we will need to find scientific evidence to support that claim. This is why it is crucial to work with a doctor familiar with VA disabilities and VA nexus letters. We will help you review your C-File and medical records to find the best nexus for your service-connected disability.
A VA benefits lawyer can help you discover information and previous cases that will help persuade the VA that a service connection exists. Medical and service records showing where and when you served are a great starting place.
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:
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, but only temporarily. There are several different types of surgery that qualify for 100% VA disability for a few months. When that set time is over, you’ll have a re-assessment to see what your new rating should be once you recover. Some of these last as long as a year, some are as short as a few months.
Yes, but let’s take a look at your case. For many veterans, other service-connected disabilities cause other systems to fail. If your parathyroid is having a problem because of other service-connected problems, you should see if you get can it rated as a secondary connection. Give us a call and we’ll go over your case with you for free.