Suffering from kidney stones can negatively impact your ability to hold employment, leaving you in financially challenging situations. If you are a military veteran suffering from this condition, you could recover tax-free VA disability benefits.
However, the VA may deny or underrate your disability rating for kidney stones. Such a decision can lead to zero or a lower amount of compensation than those to which you are entitled. If this happens, you can always appeal your claim and ask a VA disability benefits lawyer to help you build your case.
In this article about kidney stone VA disability:
- What are Kidney Stones?
- Causes of Kidney Stones
- Different Types of Kidney Stones
- Kidney Stones Symptoms and Complications
- Can You Get VA Disability for Kidney Stones?
- Are You Eligible for Kidney Stones VA Disability Benefits?
- How Kidney Stones May Cause Missed Work
- How Pain Medication May Disqualify You from Work
- How Frequent Urination May Impact Your Ability to Work
- VA Disability Rating When Another Condition Causes Kidney Stones
- How to Claim Kidney Stones VA Disability Benefits
- How is VA Disability Calculated for Multiple Conditions?
- Appealing a VA Disability Benefits Denial or an Undervalued Rating
- VA Disability Attorneys Can Help
What are Kidney Stones?
Kidney stones form out of minerals and salts that create hard stone-like deposits in your urinary tract. Other names for kidney stones include renal calculi, urolithiasis, and nephrolithiasis.
Kidney stones can develop in your bladder or any part of the urinary tract. When your urine becomes particularly concentrated, the minerals in it can form crystals. Many people will pass kidney stones without long-term impacts, although the process is often extremely painful. However, if a stone becomes stuck, it can lead to severe infections, and your physician may decide that you require surgery to remove the blockage.
About 13 percent of men and seven percent of women will develop kidney stones in their lifetimes[^1]. The numbers also show that once you have kidney stones, you have around a 50 percent chance of having them again in the next five years and an 80 percent chance of developing stones over the next decade. Researchers found that kidney stones impact more Americans every year but are unsure about the cause of this increased prevalence.
Causes of Kidney Stones
If you have any of the following conditions, you can develop kidney stones:
- Obesity: Studies indicate that individuals with a high body mass index are more prone to kidney stones.
- Dehydration: If you do not drink enough water or live in a dry, hot climate, your urine can become concentrated. This causes the chemicals that dissolve in your urine to crystallize.
- Genetics: You can also develop kidney stones if you have a family history of this condition or previously suffered from it.
- Poor Diets: If you eat too much salt, your kidneys will have to filter more calcium from your body. The increase in calcium may lead to stones. Diets high in sugar and protein can also lead to greater risk.
- Previous Gastric Bypass Surgery: This procedure can change your ability to absorb water and calcium, thereby creating a greater likelihood of kidney stone formations.
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease: If you have inflammatory bowel disease or suffer from chronic diarrhea, you can develop kidney stones.
- Certain Diseases: This includes cystinuria, renal tubular acidosis, and hyperparathyroidism.
- Medications: This includes antacids that contain calcium, laxatives, some antidepressants, and migraine medications.
- Taking Supplements: Taking too much vitamin C and some other supplements can make you more likely to develop kidney stones.
If you previously suffered from kidney stones, it is important to learn what led to that condition so that you can avoid suffering from them again.
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.
Different Types of Kidney Stones
There are several different categories of kidney stones.
- Calcium stones: The causes could be dietary, metabolic disorders, or medications.
- Struvite stones: These form when you have a urinary tract infection (UTI). These stones grow rapidly and tend to strike suddenly.
- Cystine stones: You may have a condition called cystinuria, leading to the overproduction of cystine, a crystalline, sulfur-containing amino acid.
- Uric acid stones: These may form in people who suffer from chronic diarrhea, eat too much protein, have diabetes, or suffer from other metabolic conditions.
If you know the type of kidney stone you have or had, that information will help you determine the cause of your condition.
Here are some tips on your C&P exam from one of our VA disability lawyers.
Kidney Stones Symptoms and Complications
If you have kidney stones, you may not notice them until they move into your ureters. The ureters are tubes that run between your kidney and bladder. Once the stone is in your ureter, you might experience pain and have difficulty urinating.
Symptoms associated with kidney stones include:
- Pain in the side, back, under your ribs, and radiating from the abdomen to your groin
- Burning sensation while urinating
- Pain that fluctuates
- Foul-smelling cloudy, pink, brown, or red urine
- Frequent need to urinate
Can You Get VA Disability for Kidney Stones?
Yes, service-connected kidney stones qualify for VA benefits. The amount of compensation will depend on the severity of the symptoms. If the VA rates a disability at a higher percentage, the veteran will recover more compensation. The ratings run from a low of ten percent to a maximum of 100 percent.
If you have the term “nephrolithiasis,” which is the technical term for kidney stones in your medical records, you may qualify for VA benefits under 38 CFR Section 4.115b. This section provides that individuals with nephrolithiasis that require any one of the below treatments will receive a 30 percent disability rating:
- Drug therapy
- Diet therapy
- Any procedure, invasive or non-invasive, at least twice a year
If the above factors do not apply, then depending on your specific case and diagnosis, the VA may rate your condition at a lower percentage.
Are You Eligible for Kidney Stones VA Disability Benefits?
For a disability to qualify for benefits, it must seriously impact your life and ability to work.
If you had kidney stones at one time and fully recovered, you probably cannot collect kidney stone-related benefits.
However, VA disability ratings for kidney stones can be high if you cannot maintain steady employment because you are frequently suffering symptoms.
How Kidney Stones May Cause Missed Work
If you pass kidney stones multiple days a month, the pain will likely cause you to miss a great deal of work. If you miss four days a month, that works out to 48 days a year. Many employers will not be able to accommodate this much missed time. Therefore, you might be unable to hold a regular job.
How Pain Medication May Disqualify You from Work
You may be able to avoid severe complications and possible surgeries, but will still require powerful pain medication to endure the symptoms of kidney stones. If you drive a car for a living or operate heavy machinery, you might not be able to work because of the pain medications. Operating a car or forklift while taking prescription opioids is not only illegal but incredibly dangerous. For this reason, maintaining your regular work might not be feasible.
How Frequent Urination May Impact Your Ability to Work
Also, one symptom commonly associated with kidney stones is urinary frequency. Some people may find that they must urinate hourly and multiple times during the night. Such symptoms can negatively impact a person’s ability to perform their job. If you are in this situation, you may be able to get a VA disability rating for urinary frequency in connection with your condition.
You need to understand the full value of your claim. Only veterans who know their disability level will avoid having the VA underrate their claims and provide benefits below those to which they are entitled.
VA Disability Rating When Another Condition Causes Kidney Stones
You can qualify for a higher rating if you have kidney stones because of another condition, like hyperparathyroidism, a condition where the thyroid produces excessive hormones.
Hyperparathyroidism can cause the following symptoms:
- Kidney stones
- Declassification of bones
- Peptic ulcers
- Weight loss
Your VA disability rating will vary depending on the classification of your condition. For instance, if you suffer from all of the above symptoms of hyperparathyroidism, the VA may rate you at 100 percent disabled. If you suffer from weakness combined with gastrointestinal symptoms, the VA might rate you at 60 percent disabled. If your symptoms are minor but require constant medication, the VA might rate your disability at 10 percent.
It may be difficult to get 100% TDIU from one disability, but here one of our VA disability lawyers talks about common disabilities that add up to a 100% combined rating.
How to Claim Kidney Stones VA Disability Benefits
To file a successful claim for benefits, you will need to have a doctor provide a proper diagnosis that includes the language that the VA will be looking for when making their decision. If your doctor fails to indicate that your condition is serious and connected to your service, you might face a denial of benefits.
Your claim will be more likely to succeed if you provide documentation such as:
- Disability-related records from a VA doctor or hospital
- Records from your private doctor or non-VA hospitals that discuss your injury, illness, and disability
- Supporting statements from people close to you who witnessed how your condition impacts your life
VA benefits only apply in cases where your disability is related to your time in the service. If you developed kidney stones long after leaving the service and the condition appears unrelated, the VA will not award you benefits. However, if you have a diagnosis during service or had the condition before service and it became worse while you were in the military, you should qualify.
Sometimes you might need to get another opinion or find a doctor who understands how to speak the VA’s language. Once you have the necessary documentation, you can file your claim online or by mail. When you work with Woods and Woods, we do all of that work for you. You’ll know your VA disability lawyers have put forth the best case we can when your application goes to the VA.
A behind the scenes look at who works for you at Woods and Woods, The Veteran’s Firm.
How is VA Disability Calculated for Multiple Conditions?
The VA will combine ratings for various medical ailments, but not in the way that you might think they would. If you have a 60 percent rating for kidney stones and have a back injury worth a 20 percent rating, you might think your overall rating should be 80 percent. However, this is not how VA math works for multiple conditions.
For the above example, you would subtract the 60 percent kidney stone rating from the 100 percent abled version of yourself without severe kidney stones. The first disability subtracted from the 100 percent will always be the highest rated disability, so you would start with the rating for the kidney stones and then add the rating for a back injury.
Rather than taking 20 percent from 100, you will take 20 percent from 40, which is your total ability after subtracting a 60 percent kidney stone VA disability rating. Twenty percent of 40 is eight. Therefore, you add eight to 60 for a 68 percent disability rating.
Remember that the VA rounds disabilities to the nearest ten. Instead of a 68 percent disability rating, the VA will give you 70 percent.
The VA system is even more complicated because there are certain exceptions to this rule. If you have dependent family members, you will receive more money than someone with the same rating but does not have children or parents who rely on them for support.
Educating yourself on your claim’s value will help you ensure that the VA provides a fair rating of your disability. Your rating is important because any variances may mean differences of hundreds of dollars a month. Our firm keeps a VA disability benefits calculator that can help you calculate the amount of compensation the VA should provide based on your individual health and family circumstances.
Here is a video of one of our Veterans Disability Lawyers teaching you how to use our VA Disability Combined Ratings Calculator.
Appealing a VA Disability Benefits Denial or an Undervalued Rating
Unfortunately, the VA will undervalue many claims and deny benefits to individuals who should qualify for them. The rating process is not always perfect.
There are many reasons for potential denials, such as:
- Lack of evidence to support the claim
- Lack of evidence linking the disability to your time in the service
- The VA believes the condition is pre-existing and not exacerbated by time in the service
- The VA believes the disability is related to your own misconduct
Never forget that you have the right to collect disability benefits as a veteran, and you can appeal the VA’s decision regarding your claim. A VA disability benefits lawyer can help you file an appeal.
Here, one of our VA disability lawyers talks about what we do when we appeal your case to the Veteran’s Administration.
VA Disability Attorneys Can Help
If you are a disabled veteran, you owe it to yourself and your family to take the time to ensure that you are getting the compensation that the VA owes you.
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: (866) 232-5777
While many VA ratings depend on the frequency of symptoms, for kidney stones you have to show the full impact on your daily life. That means you should keep a journal of when you have kidney stones and what you missed out on because of that pain. Showing a clear history like that to the nexus doctor will help your case.
We’ll try. Since most people that have kidney stones will have them again, we’ll try to make sure that you don’t lose your VA disability rating and then be forced to go through the application process all over again a few years later.