Ovarian cysts are sacs or pockets that grow on the surface of the ovaries. Most of the time, these cysts are filled with fluid and disappear without causing any problems. However, there are occasions where the opening of the cyst becomes sealed and the fluid-filled cyst remains. Similarly, cysts that contain tissue, uterine cells, or abnormal – yet benign – cells can also form. These cysts do not disappear and can stress the ovary as well as other organs nearby.
This pressure can produce symptoms that range from mild to severe. Severe ovarian cysts can require surgical removal of the cyst or even the ovary, resulting in a serious disability to the veteran.
In this article about VA disability for ovarian cysts:
- Can You Get VA Disability for Ovarian Cysts?
- How Does the VA Assign the Disability Rating for Ovarian Cyst?
- Typical Symptoms Used to Generate an Ovarian Cyst VA Disability Rating
- What is the VA Disability Rating for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome?
- What is the VA Disability Rating for Removal of Ovaries?
- How Can Ovarian Cyst Be Service Connected?
- In-Service Ovarian Cyst Service-Connection
- When Disabilities Manifest After Service
- Secondary Service-Connected Disabilities from Ovarian Cysts
- Can You Claim a Special Monthly Compensation for the Functional Loss of Ovaries?
- Submitting an Ovarian Cyst VA Disability Claim
Can You Get VA Disability for Ovarian Cysts?
Yes. Some ovarian cysts are expected. During a normal menstrual period, the ovaries develop cyst-like follicles as part of the production of hormones during ovulation. When a follicle continues to grow or fails to rupture after ovulation, it can develop into a cyst. These ovarian cysts are almost always harmless and resolve on their own. In fact, most veterans may not even know they have these ovarian cysts.
However, other ovarian cysts can cause severe health problems. Cysts that continue to grow can cause severe health problems that are not limited to a veteran’s reproductive organs. As a result of the impact of these symptoms on their quality of life and earning capacity, veterans with ovarian cysts can claim ovarian cyst VA disability benefits.
How Does the VA Assign the Disability Rating for Ovarian Cyst?
The VA’s rating table for ovarian diseases and injuries is relatively simple, particularly when compared to other VA ratings schedules. The rating table assigns a disability rating of 0% for symptoms that do not require continuous treatment, 10% for symptoms that can be controlled with continuous treatment, and 30% for symptoms that cannot be controlled.
It is important to note that these ratings schedules do not refer to whether the cysts themselves can be controlled with treatment. Rather, these ratings schedules refer to the symptoms produced by the cysts. Thus, persistent or recurring cysts could still receive a 0% rating if they produce no symptoms or symptoms that can be controlled with intermittent treatment, such as an occasional over-the-counter pain pill.
On the other hand, a single instance of an ovarian cyst can produce severe symptoms that might produce substantial impairment of a veteran’s health. Specifically, a large cyst can pull on an ovary, causing it to twist. This condition, called ovarian torsion, can result in infertility if it is not corrected with surgery.
Typical Symptoms Used to Generate an Ovarian Cyst VA Disability Rating
The typical symptoms that accompany an ovarian cyst include:
- Pain: The cyst can pull on the ovaries and the muscles that support the ovaries. The cyst can also press on other organs, nerves, and muscles causing pain in the pelvis, back, and thighs.
- Nausea and vomiting: Although the cause is not clear, some veterans with ovarian cysts experience nausea and vomiting similar to that of morning sickness.
- Painful bowel movements: A cyst can press on the bowels and strain the abdominal muscles making bowel movements painful.
- Bladder urgency: Cysts can press on the bladder creating the urge to urinate.
- Abdominal pressure, swelling, or bloating: As the cyst grows, it can displace other organs causing the abdomen to bulge.
- Pain during sex: Cysts can press on or strain the reproductive organs causing pain, particularly during sex.
With some other gynecological disorders rated by the VA’s regulations, each symptom is rated separately, and the overall VA disability rating is the aggregate of those individual ratings. However, ovarian cysts are only given a single rating based on the severity of all the symptoms together.
Thus, a veteran whose symptoms are severe will receive a higher rating than a veteran whose symptoms are moderate or mild. This is true even if the veteran with moderate or mild symptoms experiences a wider range of symptoms.
What is the VA Disability Rating for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome?
Sometimes, rather than having a single cyst, an ovary may develop multiple cysts. This condition is called polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is usually accompanied by a hormonal imbalance, but doctors are not sure whether the hormonal imbalance is a symptom or a cause of PCOS.
Because of the hormonal imbalance, the symptoms that accompany PCOS differ from the typical symptoms experienced with ovarian cysts. These symptoms include:
- Abnormal menstruation: Veterans with polycystic ovarian syndrome might experience heavy, irregular, or painful periods.
- Infertility: The multitude of cysts may prevent the ovaries from ovulating.
- Masculine traits: The hormone imbalance may cause facial and body hair growth, acne, baldness, and other signs of excess androgen.
Although the symptoms are different, the same ratings schedule is used to rate PCOS. Thus, symptoms that do not require treatment will give a rating of 0%, symptoms that can be controlled with continuous treatment will give a rating of 10%, and symptoms that cannot be controlled will give a rating of 30%.
What is the VA Disability Rating for Removal of Ovaries?
Treatment of ovarian cysts usually consists of watching the cyst to see if it resolves on its own. While hormone treatment can prevent new cysts from growing, hormone treatment is not effective to shrink existing cysts. As a result, cysts that continue to grow, persist over several menstrual cycles, or appear after menopause are usually treated with surgery.
Sometimes a cyst can be removed while leaving the ovary largely intact. However, occasionally, the entire ovary must be removed to remove the cyst.
When removal of an ovary is necessary to treat a service-connected ovarian cyst, the VA grants a 100% disability rating for three months after removal. At the end of the three-month period, the ongoing VA disability rating is based on whether both ovaries were removed (rated at 30%), one ovary was removed and the other is non-functional (rated at 30%), or only a single ovary was removed while the other ovary is untouched or partially removed (rated at 0%).
How Can Ovarian Cyst Be Service Connected?
To receive VA disability benefits for ovarian cysts, they must be connected to your service. This means that you must provide evidence that your ovarian cysts manifested during your military service or were caused or worsened by your military service.
In-Service Ovarian Cyst Service-Connection
In most cases, a service connection arises because the veteran was treated for ovarian cysts while serving. This is proven through the veteran’s service treatment records showing that the veteran complained of, or sought treatment for, ovarian cysts as a service member.
A service connection can be established even if the ovarian cysts were misdiagnosed during your service. For example, suppose you suffered from abnormal menstrual periods and abdominal pain, but received an incorrect diagnosis of ordinary premenstrual syndrome (PMS) from a military physician.
If you can show that you were correctly diagnosed with ovarian cysts later, you might be able to establish a service connection by showing that the prior diagnosis was incorrect. This argument is bolstered if your physician can provide a medical opinion that the symptoms you experienced while serving were caused by a misdiagnosed ovarian cyst rather than PMS.
When Disabilities Manifest After Service
If your ovarian cyst manifested after service, it may still be possible to establish a service connection if you can show that your service caused the ovarian cyst. While the causes of ovarian cysts can be difficult to pin down, certain conditions create a risk of developing ovarian cysts. If you experienced any of these during your service, you might be able to establish a service connection to an ovarian cyst that manifests later:
- Hormonal imbalance: A hormonal imbalance might come from environmental factors, like exposure to chemicals in water, air, or food, or medications. If you were exposed to anything during your service that resulted in a hormonal imbalance, you might be able to show that your service caused your ovarian cyst.
- Endometriosis: Endometriosis occurs when the cells inside the uterus form a growth on the outside of the uterus. Endometrial cells can also grow on the outside of an ovary, causing an ovarian cyst. If you developed endometriosis during your service, a subsequent ovarian cyst might be service connected.
- Pelvic infection: Pelvic infections can increase the risk of ovarian cysts. If you contracted a pelvic infection while you were serving, a later-occurring ovarian cyst might be connected to your service.
The VA Rating formula for mental health conditions like PTSD, depression, and others mental health disorders is explained by one of our veterans disability lawyers in this video:
Secondary Service-Connected Disabilities from Ovarian Cysts
Ovarian cysts can lead to other health problems. Under the VA’s secondary service-connected disability doctrine, any disability caused by a primary service-connected disability or treatment of that disability is also service connected.
For example, a ruptured cyst can lead to internal bleeding and infection. If the infection resulting from a ruptured cyst causes ongoing disability, those symptoms can be rated as a secondary service-connected disability.
Similarly, a physician may prescribe hormone therapy to prevent the recurrence of ovarian cysts. However, hormone therapy can cause side effects like abnormal menstruation or even infertility. The conditions caused by the treatment of service-connected ovarian cysts are entitled to a secondary service connection.
Can You Claim a Special Monthly Compensation for the Functional Loss of Ovaries?
Yes. Special monthly compensation (SMC) supplements VA disability benefits for veterans who have suffered either physical or functional loss of a body part or organ. Of relevance to ovarian cysts, if an ovarian cyst causes a functional loss of an ovary, a veteran may be entitled to claim SMC for “loss of a creative organ.” Similarly, if surgical removal of an ovarian cyst results in the physical loss of an ovary, the veteran may claim SMC.
Here one of our VA disability lawyers talks about how SMC (Special Monthly Compensation) works to help you get more money for extra expenses related to your disabling condition every month.
Submitting an Ovarian Cyst VA Disability Claim
A mistake that runs through many of the VA’s reported cases is that the veteran fails to prove that they suffer from an ovarian cyst, document the symptoms resulting from the ovarian cyst, or provide a medical opinion connecting the ovarian cyst to the symptoms.
However, these mistakes are avoidable. A VA lawyer can review a disability claim before it is submitted to the VA to make sure that the claims are supported with medical records or opinions. A VA lawyer can also make sure that the claims logically flow from one another so that the VA can review the claim without asking for additional information. If the VA rejects the claim, a VA attorney can help you formulate a response to improve your chances of receiving VA disability benefits in an appeal.
Discuss your claim for ovarian cyst VA disability benefits with a VA attorney, regardless of where you are currently located and whether you were deployed. Schedule a free consultation online or call (866)232-5777.