Infertility can be an emotionally traumatizing experience for couples. In many cases, underlying medical conditions may prevent individuals from becoming pregnant. Both men and women experience conditions that may cause or increase the chances of infertility.
If you have a condition related to your time in the military that led to your infertility, you may qualify for VA disability benefits. These are tax-free payments that veterans receive monthly to help them support themselves if they experienced a service-related injury or disease. VA benefits may provide help for you and your family during a challenging time in your life.
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In this article about veteran’s disability for infertility:
- Defining Infertility as a Medical Condition
- VA Service Connected Infertility for Female Service Members
- Conditions that Cause Infertility in Women
- VA Services for Infertility in Women
- Service Connected Conditions Causing Infertility in Women
- Infertility in Male Service Members
- Conditions that Cause Infertility for Men
- VA Services for Infertility in Men
- VA Disability Benefits for Service Connected Conditions that Result in Infertility in Men
- Understanding VA Disability Benefits Ratings and Percentages
- Filing for VA Disability Benefits
- We’ve Won Cases for Thousands of Veterans
Defining Infertility as a Medical Condition
Researchers indicate that about ten to fifteen percent of couples experience infertility. The definition of infertility is the inability to get pregnant despite frequent unprotected sex for a period of at least twelve months. It is not always apparent whether the woman or the man in the relationship is suffering from symptoms leading to the inability to conceive. There may be some issues that indicate the cause of the potential problem, but in many cases, the only symptom will be the lack of conception.
Military couples may struggle with infertility issues in ways that other individuals may not. For instance, if a couple is trying to conceive and undergoing infertility treatment, the timing of deployments and frequent relocations can negatively impact their efforts. Fortunately, some treatments can help to overcome the issues leading to infertility. For military couples, VA benefits may help pay for necessary services.
VA Service Connected Infertility for Female Service Members
Infertility is far more common among female service members than it is for civilians. In fact, one study indicated that the rate of infertility among military women is 30 percent, compared to the average for civilian women of just 12 percent. The fact that the rate of infertility is nearly three times as high for female service members is alarming to many researchers.
In some cases, infertility itself is related to injuries or exposures that a woman experiences during her time in the service. For example, chemical exposure can lead to infertility. Some service members face these exposures as part of their regular duties.
Conditions that Cause Infertility in Women
Although exposure to toxins and chemicals may lead to infertility in some cases, there are other conditions that can also cause the inability to become pregnant. Some common conditions include the following:
- Damage to fallopian tubes
- Ovulation disorders
- Uterine or cervical abnormalities
In some of these situations, the VA may offer financial assistance. Infertility treatment can be costly. If you are a military woman struggling with infertility, it’s important to learn whether you qualify for any VA benefits.
VA Services for Infertility in Women
Female veterans may qualify for treatments, including in-vitro fertilization, for other assisted reproductive technologies. However, to meet the VA requirements, you must:
- Be married
- Be experiencing a service-related condition that is impacting your fertility
- Have a functioning uterus, a functioning ovary, or frozen eggs
- Have a spouse who can produce sperm, or who has frozen sperm
The benefits do not apply to other situations, such as when you would need donor eggs or sperm, or require a surrogate to carry the infant.
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Service Connected Conditions Causing Infertility in Women
VA disability benefits provide financial assistance to veterans who suffer injuries or conditions related to their time in service. Many female reproductive system conditions will qualify for benefits. Diseases and injuries impacting the following female reproductive parts can lead to benefits:
- Fallopian Tubes
If you lose the use of your uterus or ovaries or need them removed, you could also qualify for benefits. Displacement of pelvic organs, endometriosis, abnormal passageways, and female sexual arousal disorder will also qualify in some instances.
Cancer and tumors of the female reproductive system can also qualify. If you are a Gulf War or post-9/11 era veteran who was exposed to toxins from burn pits during your service, cancers of reproductive organs are considered presumptive conditions. This means you would not need to prove your reproductive cancer is directly tied to your service if you qualify.
Other conditions may not include a specific listing but will qualify under a related code.
Infertility in Male Service Members
Male infertility contributes to around one in three overall cases of infertility. One study indicated that veterans suffer from a higher prevalence of infertility than the general population. Researchers did not specifically link military service with the condition that causes male infertility. However, some research suggests that PTSD and depression, which are common among service members, increase the risk of infertility in men.
Conditions that Cause Infertility for Men
Male infertility is sometimes the result of behavioral choices such as drinking, smoking, and drug use. Chronic health conditions, injuries, and illnesses can also lead to difficulty conceiving a child. Low or abnormal sperm production and function can impact infertility, as can blockages that limit sperm delivery.
Both medical and environmental causes can lead to infertility in men. Some of the medical causes include:
- Undescended testicles
- Certain infections that cause scarring
- Swelling in the veins that drain the testicles
- Celiac Disease
Cancer and tumors of the male reproductive system can also qualify you for VA benefits. If you are a Gulf War or post-9/11 era veteran who was exposed to toxins from burn pits during your service, cancers of reproductive organs are considered presumptive conditions. This means you would not need to prove your reproductive cancer is directly tied to your service if you qualify under the PACT Act.
Exposure to toxins, heat, and chemicals can also lower sperm production. Such exposures can also cause issues with proper sperm functioning. Some military members may face exposure to heavy metals, chemicals, radiation, or X-rays that can impact their fertility. As mentioned, there is also a possible connection between PTSD and infertility. You can check VA guidelines to determine the VA disability rating for low sperm count and other infertility-causing conditions.
VA Services for Infertility in Men
The VA offers certain infertility treatments for members of the military. If you are a male service member or veteran, you must meet the following requirements:
- Be married
- Experience a service-related condition causing your infertility
- Your spouse must have a functioning uterus, functioning ovary, or frozen eggs
- Be able to produce sperm or have frozen sperm
The VA does not offer benefits in cases where couples need donations of embryos, sperm, or eggs, or where a surrogate is required to carry the baby. However, qualifying individuals can receive VA health care. These services are essential because infertility treatment can be costly without such coverage.
VA Disability Benefits for Service Connected Conditions that Result in Infertility in Men
Azoospermia, which means that a man does not ejaculate sperm, is a cause of infertility. If you have this condition, you might qualify for azoospermia VA disability benefits. Erectile dysfunction is also a disability that can qualify for benefits if it is service-related.
Many conditions and medications can lead to infertility as a secondary condition. Medication that treats PTSD and depression can sometimes lead to erectile dysfunction or other complications that may impact fertility. You can, in some cases, recover VA disabilities because of a secondary condition. Suppose your primary condition, such as PTSD, is related to your time in the service, and that condition requires medication that leads to infertility. In that case, you might be able to receive compensation for that secondary condition.
Injuries and illnesses that are service-related and which impact any male reproductive organs may also qualify for VA disability benefits. If you believe you might qualify, you should consider pursuing VA disability for male infertility.
Understanding VA Disability Benefits Ratings and Percentages
The VA rates disabilities by assigning each ailment a percentage. You can recover compensation as long as you are at least ten percent disabled, based on the VA’s standards. The higher the disability percentage, the more the VA will pay as a benefit each month.
The current compensation rate for veterans who are 10 percent disabled is $152.64 a month. That number increases to $301.74 for individuals with a 20 percent disability rating. After a veteran hits a 30 percent disability rating, the calculations become more complex. Veterans with ratings that fall between 30 and 100 percent can include spouses, children, and parents as dependents, and recover an additional amount of compensation.
The numbers can become more complicated if further factors are impacting your disability benefits. If you suffer from multiple conditions, you will also have to calculate your total disability payments for those combined ailments. Unfortunately, combining disability readings is not as simple as adding up two or more ratings to reach a total percentage.
If you are 50 percent disabled based on the VA’s guidelines and qualify as 20 percent disabled based on a second condition, the VA does not consider you 70 percent disabled. Instead, the VA will view you as 50 percent abled, and then take twenty percent away from that number to represent the additional disability. In other words, you will now be 40 percent abled and 60 percent disabled. You will therefore recover benefits at a 60 percent rate, rather than a 70 percent rate.
If you have questions about your VA disability rating, try using our free VA disability benefits calculator. This tool can help you get a better sense of the value of your disability claim.
Filing for VA Disability Benefits
Filing for VA disability benefits can be a difficult technical process. Sometimes, the VA will deny your claim. If you believe that the VA denied your claim in error, fill out a NOD and file an appeal.
The VA may deny claims based on a lack of information, or because your doctor did not use the proper language to show a nexus that qualifies you for disability benefits. Appealing your claim may allow you to receive the compensation to which you are entitled.
If the VA denies your disability claim, you will have one year to file an appeal. The year begins on the date listed on your denial letter – not the day you received the letter.
The form you will file is a notice of disagreement (NOD). You can then ask for a decision review officer appeal, or you can take your claim to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (the Board). When filing for an appeal through the decision review officer, you can request a hearing or appeal without making any request for a formal hearing.
The decision review officer will review the files in your appeal and decide on your benefits. In cases where you requested a hearing, you will provide the VA with the relevant information, and then the VA will schedule the hearing.
If the decision review officer denies your appeal, you still have the option of filing with the Board. If you went directly to the Board, the VA must prepare a statement of the case and send you the information, which will include a summary of their reasons for denying your benefits. This process can take longer as the VA may not send that document to you for several months.
Once you receive a statement of the case detailing the reason for your denial, you must file an appeal with the Board within 60 days or less. The forms you need to fill out as part of your appeal can be complicated and highly technical. Fortunately, you have the right to hire an attorney who can provide you with assistance throughout the appellate process.
Call us for free to discuss VA service-connected fertility claims. You do not want your VA disability benefits denied simply because of a technical oversight, or because you did not provide all the necessary information that the VA requested. A VA disability benefits lawyer is familiar with the appeal process and can serve as your guide and advocate.
The VA is going to use a lawyer against you, so it’s only smart to get a lawyer to fight on your side too.
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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. Call us and join the thousands of veterans living off of VA disability thanks to Woods and Woods.
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Frequently Asked Questions
The VA will handle your claims individually, not as a couple, so you both want to make a good case for your own infertility. It is possible, but one of the stipulations for an infertility rating is that your spouse has a functioning reproductive system. You’d better give us a call so we can make a claim representing the full picture of your life with a service-connected disability.
Yes. There are many injuries that can result in what the VA calls the “loss of a creative organ.” That includes conditions resulting from paralysis, diabetes, nerve damage, chronic pain, and other disabilities.