Many veterans experience chronic or recurring stomach pain. Sometimes, the cause of this pain can qualify you for VA disability benefits. If you have chronic stomach pain caused by ulcerative colitis, you may be eligible for benefits. That’s why it’s important to understand the ulcerative colitis VA rating.
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You experience frequent issues with your stomach. It hurts constantly and there’s blood in your stool. It’s a frightening situation, especially when you learn your ulcerative colitis may be the result of your military service. This post explains the ulcerative colitis VA rating and the ratings for similar or related conditions.
In this article about the ulcerative colitis VA rating:
Ulcerative colitis in veterans
Ulcerative colitis is a chronic bowel disease that causes inflammation in the digestive tract. Research found veterans are two to three times more likely to have ulcerative colitis than the general population. This increased risk is the result of toxic exposures and extreme stress during military service.
Symptoms of ulcerative colitis include abdominal cramps and pain, rectal bleeding, and bloody diarrhea.
Doctors treat the condition with medication and, sometimes, surgery. If it remains untreated, the inflammation can spread, leading to infections, kidney failure, or a colon rupture. Ulcerative colitis can be life-threatening.
Ulcerative colitis VA rating
The VA rates ulcerative colitis using diagnostic code 7323 in the Schedule of Ratings based on the severity of symptoms. The rating is as follows:
|Monthly payment (vet only)
|Pronounced; resulting in marked malnutrition, anemia, and general debility, or with serious complication as liver abscess
|Severe; with numerous attacks a year and malnutrition, the health only fair during remissions
|Moderately severe; with frequent exacerbations
|Moderate; with infrequent exacerbations
DBQ for ulcerative colitis
Disability Benefits Questionnaires (DBQs) are questionnaires provided by the VA that allow a veteran’s medical provider to document evidence about their health condition. Questions and selections on the DBQ are designed to make sure the information provided about your health condition will be helpful and relevant when the VA reviews your claim.
For ulcerative colitis, the VA uses the intestinal conditions DBQ. It’s a six-page document that includes sections such as:
- Your medical history
- Your symptoms and their severity
- Frequency of episodes of bowel disturbance or abdominal distress
- Amount of weight you’ve lost as a result of your intestinal condition
- Presence and severity of malnutrition
- Presence of tumors or neoplasms associated with your condition, as well as any treatment you’ve received for them
- Results of diagnostic tests such as blood work
- How your ulcerative colitis impacts your ability to work
- Any additional notes from the examiner about your condition
Conditions related to ulcerative colitis
Ulcerative colitis is known to lead to other potentially disabling conditions, and in some cases, it may be secondary to other service-related conditions such as PTSD.
Below we highlight a few of the conditions that are most commonly linked to ulcerative colitis.
Because of severe inflammation, people with ulcerative colitis or other types of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are at a higher risk of bone loss than the general population.
Chronic inflammation reduces bone mineral density, which leads to osteopenia, or weakened bones, and osteoporosis, which is a bone disease that causes bones to become weak and brittle.
If you develop osteoporosis as a result of your service-connected ulcerative colitis, you may be eligible for a osteoporosis VA rating secondary to ulcerative colitis.
Veterans diagnosed with ulcerative colitis are six times more likely to develop colorectal cancer than those without the condition.
Chronic inflammation from ulcerative colitis increases the level of molecules that promote cancerous tumor growth in the colon, increasing your risk for colorectal cancer. Inflammation caused by ulcerative colitis can also make you more susceptible to infections, which aid in the growth and multiplication of cancer cells.
Veterans with ulcerative colitis should receive regular colorectal cancer screenings. If caught early, colorectal cancer can be highly curable.
PTSD and ulcerative colitis
Veterans are considered a population prone to PTSD, making a greater connection between them and the development of gastric disorders. About 7% of veterans experience PTSD, which is higher than the civilian average. In fact, PTSD is the fourth most commonly service-connected condition for VA disability benefits. More than 1.3 million veterans receive compensation from the VA for PTSD.
Veterans can receive a PTSD VA rating if their PTSD was caused or worsened by military service. A veteran may be able to file a claim for secondary service connection for ulcerative colitis if they suspect their service-connected PTSD was the cause.
TDIU for ulcerative colitis
A veteran can be awarded total disability based on individual unemployability (TDIU) benefits if they can’t maintain “substantially gainful employment” due to their service-connected conditions.
TDIU pays at the same level as a 100% disability rating, even when the veteran’s combined rating is below 100%.
Veterans will typically be eligible for TDIU if they have:
- At least one service-connected disability rated at 60% or more disabling OR
- Two or more service-connected disabilities with at least one rated at 40% or more disabling and a combined rating of 70% or more
Based on this formula, you may be in a position to decide whether TDIU or a 100% VA rating is better for you, based on your gastrointestinal diagnosis.
“They did good by me. I am sick, and the VA was stalling. They got me 100% permanent and total.“
How our VA-accredited attorneys can help
If you have a condition that affects your ability to live and work, you deserve VA disability compensation. Contact Woods and Woods today for a free consultation to see how we can help. You only pay us if we win.
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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Yes, you can get a VA disability rating for ulcerative colitis. The rating is 10%, 30%, 60%, or 100%, depending on the severity and frequency of symptoms.
Ulcerative colitis is an inflammation of the large intestine or colon. Peptic ulcers affect the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine. Therefore, despite their similar names, they do not occur in the same organs and are not related. However, you can receive a VA disability rating for ulcerative colitis or an ulcer, depending on its location.
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