If you feel like your constant sore throat is caused by your time in the service, you might want to look into VA disability for chronic strep throat.
When most of us hear “strep throat,” we think of elementary school and visiting the school nurse. But did you know that you can get strep throat at any age? And did you know that if you served in the military, you could get a VA disability rating for strep throat?
Strep throat can be a painful and frustrating condition, and if you’re fighting with it, you could be entitled to disability compensation from the VA. Read on to learn more about this disease and how you could file for VA disability for a sore throat.
In this article about veterans disability for strep throat:
- What Is Strep Throat?
- Symptoms of Chronic Strep Throat
- What Causes Strep?
- Risk Factors of Getting Strep
- Complications from Strep Infections
- When to See a Doctor
- Preparing for Your Appointment
- How to Qualify for VA Disability Compensation
- Proving a Service Connection
- Getting a Medical Nexus
- How VA Disability Ratings Work
- VA Disability Rating for Strep Throat
- Disability Compensation Rates
- If Your Claim Is Denied
- Get the Compensation You Deserve
What Is Strep Throat?
You may have had strep throat as a kid or known someone who did, but what is this disease anyway? Strep throat is a bacterial infection that makes your throat feel sore, scratchy, or itchy. Not every sore throat is strep throat, but it can be a common cause.
On its own, strep throat is not an especially dangerous condition, even if it is uncomfortable. But some of the complications it can cause can wreak havoc on your health and your life. And although strep throat is something we associate most with school children, it can impact people of any age.
Symptoms of Chronic Strep Throat
The most common and recognizable symptom of strep throat is a painful throat. Usually, the pain comes on quickly, and you may notice it more when you swallow. Your lymph nodes in your neck may feel sore or swollen, especially under your ears at the back of your jaw.
If someone looks into your mouth, they may notice that your tonsils (if you still have them) are red or swollen. You may have white patches or streaks of pus on your tonsils or red spots on the roof of your mouth towards the back of your throat. More severe cases can cause a fever, headache, rash, body aches, or even nausea and vomiting.
What Causes Strep?
Any case of strep, in your throat or not, is caused by bacteria in the streptococcus group. The specific bacteria that causes strep is called Streptococcus pyogenes, and it makes up Group A of the streptococcal bacteria. Unfortunately for us, streptococcal bacteria are very contagious.
Strep throat is passed through respiratory droplets; if that sounds familiar, it’s because we’ve all been hearing a lot about them since the Covid-19 pandemic hit the US last March. These droplets are tiny drops of water you expel from your mouth and nose when you breathe, sneeze, talk, cough, or sing. They can land on nearby surfaces, where other people around you may touch them and transfer the bacteria to their own mouth.
You can see how fast strep bacteria could spread in a sub or in some barracks. Since a typical strep throat infection can be treated and cured, it’s not likely that you’d get VA disability for one instance of strep throat. It is the recurring strep throat and long-term effect on your immune system that can cause disabilities.
Risk Factors of Getting Strep
One of the biggest risk factors for strep throat is young age. Many school-age children get strep throat, and it’s less common in adults. But as we mentioned, strep throat can impact people of any age, especially during the winter and early spring, when these infections are more common.
The other major risk for strep throat is spending time in crowded conditions. Part of the reason so many school children get the disease is because they’re spending most of their time in a classroom with thirty-odd other children. But it can also go around in barracks, dorms, and other close living conditions.
Complications from Strep Infections
As we mentioned, in and of itself, strep throat isn’t a very dangerous condition. However, it can cause some serious complications, the most common of which is the bacteria spreading. Strep throat can cause infections in your tonsils, sinuses, skin, blood, or even in your middle ear.
Strep throat can also put you at higher risk for a number of inflammatory conditions. You could contract scarlet fever, your kidneys could become inflamed, you could develop rheumatic fever, or you could even get post-streptococcal reactive arthritis. This last side-effect is a painful condition that causes your joints to swell up as the cartilage cushioning them becomes inflamed.
When to See a Doctor
Oftentimes, when we have a sore throat, we tend to treat it by drinking lots of fluids and eating soup (and if you grew up in the 80s, watching the Price is Right until the soap operas came on). But if you think you may have strep throat, you need to make an appointment with your family doctor. The main sign that it’s time to make an appointment is if your sore throat has lasted longer than 48 hours without improvement.
You may also need to see your doctor if you have tender, swollen lymph nodes in your neck, as well as a sore throat. If you have a rash or a fever, it’s also time to call for an appointment. And if you have trouble breathing or swallowing, you may need to seek medical help immediately.
As of Fall, 2020, these are also symptoms of COVID-19, so the VA clinic and your local doctor will want you to call ahead and describe your symptoms before coming in. They may direct you to get a Coronavirus test before they see you for strep throat.
Diagnosing strep throat is a fairly straightforward process; your doctor will need to confirm if the Streptococcus pyogenes bacteria are present in your throat. In most cases, they’ll do this by performing a rapid antigen test. Your doctor will take a swab sample of the back of your throat and run a test that can tell you in as little as a few minutes whether you have strep.
If your rapid antigen test comes back negative, but your doctor still thinks you may have strep throat, they may order a throat culture. In order to do this test, your doctor will rub a sterile swab over the back of your throat and tonsils. This test isn’t painful, but it may make you gag, and the test can take up to two days to return results.
If you remember having this swab test while you were enlisted, you’ll want to highlight the report of it in your C-file or medical records. Showing that you had the test and tested positive for it will be critical to making a nexus link to your current chronic condition.
The Nexus Letter is like the missing link to a successful VA disability compensation claim. In this video, one of our veteran’s disability lawyers explains the importance of the Nexus Letter.
Preparing for Your Appointment
The best thing you can do to prepare for your doctor’s appointment is to keep detailed notes of your symptoms. Make sure to note times at which various symptoms appear. This can help your doctor see the progress of the disease and determine if you do, in fact, have chronic strep. It can also help them determine the best way to treat you.
Before your appointment, it’s also a good idea to gather up some medical history to bring with you. This may include a previous history of strep throat, as well as whether or not you’ve had your tonsils and adenoids removed. If you plan to file for VA disability compensation, you may want to get your military service record before you go to your appointment.
How to Qualify for VA Disability Compensation
There are three things you’ll need in order to qualify for VA disability compensation. First and foremost, you’ll need a diagnosis from a VA-approved medical provider. In most cases, your family doctor will meet the requirements the VA has for this medical provider.
You’ll also need to be able to point to a specific incident or set of circumstances in your service history that caused your condition. And finally, you’ll need to be able to provide a medical nexus connecting your condition to your military service. Your doctor will be able to provide this nexus at your diagnosing appointment if you have your military records with you at the time.
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.
Proving a Service Connection
In order to prove a service connection for your strep throat, you’ll need to point to a specific incident or set of circumstances in your military record that could have caused your condition. This proof could come from your military service record or your military medical record. If your chronic tonsillitis started in the military, your military medical records will show the history of your treatment.
Proving a service connection for strep throat can be a little tricky. If you were in especially crowded conditions, that could provide a service connection for a case of chronic tonsillitis. Veterans of the Gulf War may have an easier time proving a service connection for a bacterial infection since a number of veterans have returned from that conflict with undiagnosed illnesses.
Getting a Medical Nexus
Once you’ve proven a connection in your military service, your diagnosing doctor will need to provide a medical nexus for you. This is essentially a statement saying that your strep throat is at least as likely as not caused by the incident in your service record. A written statement from your doctor should serve fine for the VA’s purposes.
A medical nexus is designed to keep veterans from claiming disability compensation for injuries and conditions unrelated to their service. For instance, let’s say you have a car wreck ten years after you leave the service and sustain a concussion. You can’t claim VA disability compensation for traumatic brain injury unless you had head injuries while you were in the military.
How VA Disability Ratings Work
Once your VA disability claim is approved, the VA will assign you a disability rating. These ratings take the form of percentages and range from 10 percent to 100 percent. Your rating will be rounded to the nearest 10 percent for the purposes of determining how much compensation you’ll receive from the VA each month.
Your disability rating is designed to reflect how much your condition impacts your ability to lead a normal, healthy life. The VA will use this rating as the primary factor in determining your compensation amount. For ratings over 30 percent, they will also take a look at how many people depend on you financially.
Here is a video explaining how the VA combined ratings table works from one of our Veterans Disability Lawyers.
VA Disability Rating for Strep Throat
The VA does not have a specific rating system designated for strep throat, but they do look at bacterial infectious diseases, which fall under the VA diagnostic code 6599. They will consider how severe your symptoms are, as well as how often you’re getting strep throat. They’ll want to take a look at how much this impacts your ability to work or carry on normal, healthy relationships.
In general, you should expect to get a 10 percent rating from the VA for strep throat or chronic tonsillitis. If you have severe symptoms or complications, you may be able to get a higher rating for a secondary condition. But if a 10 percent rating seems low to you, it could be worth more than you might imagine.
Disability Compensation Rates
Once you have your disability rating, the VA will use it, among other factors, to determine how much you’re owed in compensation. A 10 percent rating will get you $152.64 per month tax-free from the VA. If you get a rating of 20 percent, you’ll get $301.74 per month according to the rates published for 2020.
For ratings of 30 percent and above, the VA will consider how many people depend on you when determining your compensation amount.
Talk to Us About Your Claim:
If Your Claim Is Denied
If your VA disability claim gets denied, don’t worry. You can always appeal your claim all the way up to the BVA in Washington, D.C., if necessary. You can also appeal a claim that has been given a rating lower than what you believe you deserve.
If you plan to file an appeal for your VA disability compensation case, it’s a good idea to hire a lawyer specializing in veteran affairs. For one thing, we can help you navigate the confusing world of deadlines, paperwork, and evidence submissions. But we can also give you insider tips and tricks to make your claim more successful.
Here, one of our VA disability lawyers talks about what we do when we appeal your case to the Veteran’s Administration.
Get the Compensation You Deserve
Strep throat may not seem like a very serious condition, but if you get it often enough, you may be able to get disability compensation for it. VA ratings for this condition typically range around 10 percent, but you could get a rating as high as 30 percent or more. If you believe you have strep throat, talk to your doctor and start the first step in getting disability compensation.
If you’d like help getting a VA disability rating for strep throat, get in touch with us at Woods and Woods, The Veteran’s Firm. We fight for veterans every day, and you don’t pay unless we win. Contact us today and start getting the compensation you deserve.
Many of the veterans that call us find out that more of their symptoms deserve VA compensation than they expected. It’s worth making the free phone call and going over your case with us. If we don’t have a case for you, at least you’ll have peace of mind knowing you asked.
You’ll need a diagnosis and a medical nexus to show that your permanent diagnosis was caused by something that happened to you in the military. Your cold could be caused by a bigger condition that is easier to get rated by the VA. Let’s go over your records.