Thyroid conditions can occur when your thyroid produces too much or not enough hormones. If left untreated, these conditions can result in heart problems, blindness, and even death. How does the VA rate thyroid conditions? It depends on which condition you’re diagnosed with, but it can be up to 100%.
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In this article about thyroid conditions
A two-inch butterfly-shaped organ sounds harmless. But if you’re talking about your thyroid, it’s only helpful if it functions properly. Your military service may have left you with one of the various common thyroid diseases. How does the VA rate thyroid conditions? It depends on the condition and whether you can connect it to your service. This post explains.
What is thyroid disease?
Thyroid disease is any condition related to your thyroid gland, an organ located at the front base of your neck. Because the hormones the thyroid creates control many of your body’s functions, it can cause serious health issues impacting your entire body when it doesn’t work correctly.
People at risk for thyroid disease can include:
- Those with a genetic history of the disease
- Those who have another medical condition, like diabetes, that causes it
- Women, specifically over the age of 60
- People who take medications high in iodine
- Veterans exposed to certain chemicals in service, including Agent Orange
Many factors can affect the thyroid’s ability to produce its hormone properly. Depending on the cause and symptoms, a doctor may diagnose you with one of the common types of thyroid disease explained below.
Hyperthyroidism VA rating
Hyperthyroidism, otherwise known as “overactive thyroid,” is when your thyroid gland produces too much hormone. Signs of hyperthyroidism include unexpected weight loss, irregular heartbeat, difficulty tolerating heat, and fatigue. Hyperthyroidism also may cause people 60 or older to socially withdraw. Too much of the hormone results in various health conditions, from minor to severe.
Doctors can treat hyperthyroidism with medication, iodine therapy, or surgery, depending on the case. If left untreated, hyperthyroidism can cause health problems including heart issues and Graves’ ophthalmopathy, an eye disease that can cause double vision, light sensitivity, eye pain, and even vision loss.
Many conditions can cause hyperthyroidism, including Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disease. Growths on the thyroid can result in hyperthyroidism. Also, medications used to treat depression or trauma disorders, like post-traumatic stress disorder, can affect the thyroid.
Veterans may develop hyperthyroidism from the chemicals they were exposed to during their military service. Studies show that exposure to certain flame retardants, like Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers, and pesticides that include organochlorines can result in hyperthyroidism. Agent Orange may also cause thyroid disorders.
The VA rates hyperthyroidism with diagnostic code 7900 in the Schedule for Rating Disabilities. The hyperthyroidism rating is 30% for six months after diagnosis, paying $467.39 a month. After six months, the VA would rate the symptoms caused by hyperthyroidism. For example, heart disease, Graves’ Disease, or toxic or nontoxic thyroid enlargement.
You may be able to service connect hyperthyroidism if you were exposed to Agent Orange, flame retardants, like Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers, and pesticides that include organochlorines while in service. You may also be able to connect it from toxic exposure to burn pits or missile or rocket fuel. Essentially, any chemical exposure should be considered when attempting to connect hyperthyroidism.
Hypothyroidism VA rating
Hypothyroidism, otherwise known as “underactive thyroid,” is when your thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormone. Signs of hypothyroidism include fatigue, slow heart rate, sensitivity to cold, depression, and unexplained weight gain. Too little of the hormone results in various health concerns including an altered heart rate, body temperature, and metabolism.
Myxedema is when your thyroid levels are extremely low resulting in cold intolerance, muscular weakness, and cardiovascular issues. It can also include facial swelling and thickened skin, especially in the lower legs. A severe form of hypothyroidism is called a Myxedema crisis, which is a life-threatening condition that can cause heart failure and result in a coma.
The most common cause of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto’s disease, an autoimmune condition. The hereditary condition occurs when the immune system damages the thyroid, causing it to stop making and releasing enough hormone.
Veterans may develop hypothyroidism from exposure to Agent Orange. In fact, hypothyroidism is on the VA’s Agent Orange presumptive list as of 2021. Presumptive conditions are those the VA automatically assumes relate to veterans’ military service if they meet the eligibility requirements.
The VA rates hypothyroidism with diagnostic code 7903 in the Schedule for Rating Disabilities. The hypothyroidism at the myxedema level rates at 100% for six months after diagnosis, which would pay $3,332.06 a month. After six months, the VA would rate the symptoms caused by hypothyroidism. For example, digestive concerns, mental health disorders, etc.
Hypothyroidism without myxedema rates at 30% for six months after diagnosis which would pay $467.39 a month. After six months, the VA would rate the symptoms caused by hypothyroidism.
Because hypothyroidism is a presumptive condition, you can service connect it if you can prove that you were in an area prone to Agent Orange exposure.
Thyroid enlargement VA rating
Thyroid enlargement is an abnormal enlargement in the thyroid gland. It’s usually called a “goiter” and develops because of an iodine deficiency, gland inflammation, or another medical condition. Symptoms may include swelling and cough. In rare circumstances, a goiter may make breathing difficult.
Doctors treat goiters with medication or surgery. Sometimes, if a goiter is small, it doesn’t require treatment.
The VA rates thyroid enlargement as toxic (diagnostic code 7901) or nontoxic (diagnostic code 7902) in the Schedule for Rating Disabilities. The VA rates thyroid enlargement at 30% for six months after diagnosis, paying $467.39 a month. After six months, the VA would rate the symptoms caused by thyroid enlargement.
You may be able to service connect toxic thyroid enlargement in the same way as hyperthyroidism, which it falls under in the diagnostic code manual. Any chemical exposure should be considered when attempting to connect thyroid enlargement.
Thyroiditis VA rating
Thyroiditis is inflammation of the thyroid. It initially causes hormones to leak into the bloodstream and can lead to hyperthyroidism. Then, the inflammation keeps the thyroid from producing hormones, resulting in hypothyroidism. You may not have symptoms of thyroiditis until the advanced stages. Doctors treat it by focusing on the inflammation and restoring the thyroid to proper functioning.
The VA rates thyroiditis (7906) at 0% with normal thyroid function. Otherwise, it rates the over- or under-active thyroid conditions it may result in.
Thyroid cancer VA rating
The cause of cancer in the thyroid gland may be genetic or environmental. Some people with thyroid cancer don’t have symptoms, while others have a lump on their neck. Depending on the situation, doctors treat thyroid cancer with surgery, hormone therapy, iodine treatment, radiation, and chemotherapy.
The VA rates service-connected thyroid cancer with diagnostic code 7914 at 100% during treatment, which would pay $3,332.06 a month. Six months after treatment, the VA determines a new disability rating, depending on your residuals.
How to get VA disability benefits for thyroid conditions
For the VA to consider disability benefits for any thyroid condition, you must file a claim. The VA will usually request a Compensation and Pension exam. The examining physician will draw blood and review your hormone levels to diagnose the specific condition. They also will ask you questions about your symptoms and service. If the VA schedules an exam, you should attend it to avoid denial of your claim.
You also can use a Disability Benefits Questionnaire to help your claim. The questionnaire allows your physician to address symptoms, severity, possible causes, and how the condition may be related to other health concerns. While a private physician can complete the form for you, VA may still require you to attend a VA-issued examination.
Once the VA processes your claim for benefits, you will usually receive a rating decision containing either a grant or a denial. If the VA denies your benefits, you can file an appeal. and you receive a rating of more than 10% If you win your appeal, you can receive monthly compensation plus compensation back to your effective date, which is the date you filed your claim.
Woods & Woods can help
If you experience a thyroid condition that you think connects to your military service, you deserve VA disability compensation. Contact Woods and Woods to file an initial claim or appeal a rating decision. You only pay us if we win.
Talk to Us About Your Claim: (866) 232-5777
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Yes, the VA does rate various thyroid conditions. The extent of that rating depends on the condition you’re diagnosed with and whether VA service connects it.
Yes! Hypothyroidism is also a presumptive condition for those exposed to Agent Orange. That means you may qualify for benefits if you can prove you served in certain locations during the Vietnam War.